Note from OG: In this latest yuri video game review post we have a very special guest post by a yuri icon, The Yuri Canon who will educate the yuri nation on why Corpse Party is a video game series worth checking out. Grab some popcorn and enjoy the read.
Hello there everyone…The Yuri Canon here, AKA Shinigami Shimai.
Since it is Halloween month and with the recent release of Corpse Party Blood Drive I figured I would write about the first two games, Corpse Party and Book of Shadows. OG-Man asked me if I’d be willing to post it here so I guess here we go…
Warning this review will contain some bloody images and there are some spoilers regarding the main yuri coupling that many already know about. It only spoils chapter one of the first game and I’ll warn you again when I get to that part.
Over the recent years I keep getting asked how I could enjoy a game like Corpse Party, more so from the yuri community itself when they discover that most of the characters die, including the lesbians. I’ll go into the whole yuri angle in a moment but first I want people to understand something. I’m a huge horror fan and have been an avid writer/artist of yuri horror for a long time. Mind you, I’m not interested in the typical slasher and gore-fests of Western culture. I like ghost stories and psychological thrillers that really make you think. I grew up reading Stephen King and John Saul novels, devouring one book after another. Really clinging to ghost stories more than anything else. Years ago I discovered the wonders of Asian horror and I was forever lost in the worlds they created. Now most western horror stories have little effect on me and my search for something that is actually scary has become all the harder.
(Note from OG: Fatal Frame is one of my all time favorite video game series)
When it comes to gaming The Fatal Frame series on PS2 were some of my favorite games, along with Rule of Rose. The atmosphere and storytelling kept bringing me back to these games to play them time and time again. Although I found Fatal Frame to be a lot scarier than Corpse Party, Corpse party itself has its own way of scaring players, which I’ll go into.
In my opinion, it has been a long while since there has been a really good scary game. Jump scares do very little for me so this new wave of horror games I find boring, and Zombies are getting so tiresome. While I might enjoy some of these newer horror games I don’t find them actually scary. I mean I really loved the Dead Space Trilogy, but never found them really scary. It’s the story that I’m after. I want to get lost in a psychological tale that warps the minds and gives you chills. I’m also a huge bookworm who enjoys curling up to read a really long story, the scarier the better so Visual novels tend to draw my interest.
So What exactly is Corpse Party and why does it draw me in? It is hard to describe really, it isn’t exactly scary. To me it’s really, really creepy… Okay. I admit after playing the first game in the dark with headphones on I was a little jumpy afterwards but more than anything I just wanted more of the story. Corpse Party is more of a Visual Novel than anything else but with a lot of running around, picking up items and solving puzzles along the way.
When I first started hearing about Corpse Party it was through people who played the original version, which was made back in 1996 for PC. Hearing them talk about how creepy it was really interested me and made me want to play it but my Japanese reading skills are rather lacking so I never got a chance. One day my wife called me over to her computer to point out a game she discovered was being released on PSP. It was the re-release of Corpse Party with updated graphics, storyline and was fully voiced. She knows me so well. The moment she looked at this game she knew it would be something I’d want, and she was right. I remember waiting with PSP in hand, checking the PSN page over and over on the day of its release and nervously waiting while it downloaded. I didn’t know if it would really be any good, but I quickly discovered it was better than I expected. I liked it so much I bought Corpse Party Book of Shadows the moment it was released as well and Pre-ordered Corpse Party: Blood Drive – Ever After edition.
- Corpse Party Blood Covered – Repeatable Fear (just called Corpse Party out West on PSP. Also on PC, IOS and soon 3DS)
- Corpse Party: Book of Shadows (PSP & IOS, Only PSP out west)
- Corpse Party -THE ANTHOLOGY- Sachiko’s Game of Love ♥ Hysteric Birthday 2U (PSP but never released out West, mostly silly AU but has a few characters introduced who appearing in the next game.)
- Corpse Party: Blood Drive (PS Vita)
- and finally Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient (PC).
There are also several manga and an OVA… Hysteric Birthday 2u was sold with a short animated version of the beginning of the first Corpse Party game while the OVA tried to redo the full story… Don’t trust the OVA over playing the game because they cut out a lot of the game and changed who died so you’ll be confused if you don’t play the games. There is also a live action movie coming out sometime in the future.
Now many would say that Book of Shadows isn’t Canon and can be skipped but that isn’t necessarily true. While some of the chapters are retelling of “Wrong turn” endings there are in fact 3 chapters that are prequels and 1 chapter that is an epilogue leading into the next game. It is all Canon, just some is Canon AU. The Chapters from Book of Shadows that connect to the main ending of Corpse party and the beginning of Blood drive are the opening sequence before the title song as well as Prequel Chapters 3, 4 and Midquel Chapter 7 (which actually takes part in the middle of Corpse Party), and the Final chapter “Prologue: Blood Drive” which takes place only a couple of months before the beginning of the Blood Drive game,
Replaying the first game again just before the release of Corpse Party Blood Drive I realized just what it was that made this game unique and interesting. The game uses a good mix of music and ambient sound that really build the tension. Little things like the thunder, creaky floor boards and the sounds of footsteps really do a good job of setting the atmosphere for the game. The music switches from cute and upbeat to sinister or complete silence. I think the silence was the most unnerving as I sat there waiting for a door to suddenly open or something to come crashing down on me only to have the music start up again. The binaural 3D surround sound audio is very effective. When I have headphones on it really feels like someone is coming up behind you or whispering in your ear. Really creepy when ghosts start taunting the characters from all directions.
The artwork for the stills are very will done. They never really show anything too graphic, it is actually the descriptions that tend to be over the top. This game doesn’t rely on gory imagery for the most part. Sure there are a few dead bodies and blood here and there but nothing extreme.
When someone dies you are usually presented with a black screen that will flicker red every now and then with a description of what is going on along with some rather nasty sound effects. I’ll never forget when my character got their eye removed with scissors. The sounds of laughter and the scissors slicing while my character screamed were just haunting. Some of the moments were downright frightening as I frantically pressed buttons trying to see if I could escape only to be buried alive in a shallow grave or some other nasty fate.
Finally there is the story. This is what really drew me into the game. I was expecting something simple when it came to the story but what I got was filled with so many twists and turns it was hard to tell who the real villain was at the end. I mean Sachiko is really messed up and does some nasty things but can I really blame her in the end? I really don’t know. So much happened throughout the story it’s not simple to explain in one go. No single event can be blamed. It is a multitude of situations that caused everything to happen. I had so much fun trying to figure out all the clues and put things together. It was such that when I got to the ending I felt satisfied and had to return to Heavenly Host to find more Wrong Turns and other clues that I might have missed. There are a lot of Wrong turns to make and so many ways to die. It is part of the fun, just trying to find each death and you can even collect the name tags off the dead to learn how they died.
The writers also gave real depth to the characters making you feel for them. Many games just glance over character deaths, mostly in horror games, but this one takes a lot of time letting you get to know them and really feel for them. Knowing very well that many will die became a real struggle. I’ve heard of people begging online for a way to save one character or another. Which brings us back time and time again. The thought that maybe, just maybe we can save these poor souls in the next game. Most people have a character or two that they love and wish to save while running around this hellish place, searching for a way out. Even after a character dies you end up learning more and more about them through their ghosts and flashbacks.
Very few games take this much time to fully flesh-out so many characters as this series did. By the end of the first game I found myself wanting to learn more about the characters and I got to do just that in Book of Shadows and now Blood Drive. Each game has flashbacks and extra story chapters that give more depth to the characters involved. In Book of Shadows we even got interviews with the Voice Actors that were amusing to listen to. The one thing about the games that might bother some is that each game expects you to have played the previous one. It just throws you into the story without recapping or explaining anything that was already told in the other games. This can frustrate some but I didn’t mind. I tend to have a memory for these things… although I did scratch my head over that one thing that was mentioned in Book of Shadows so was a tad confused in Blood drive, but it got cleared up very quickly. So if you want to know what is going on and not just, “Oh she’s dead.” you need to play through each game in order.
That is another thing. The voice acting is wonderful. You can really feel the emotions in their voices. The panic, confusion and sadness as they stumble around this horrible school, one by one their friends disappearing or turning up dead. It is heart wrenching at times. Mostly Naomi… Rina Sato does a beautiful job showing the level of emotion Naomi goes through to a point that is actually kind of scary. I never forget the opening of Book of Shadows, the way she screamed and the amount of anguish in her voice over what is going on. You can really feel her pain and the torment she endures throughout the game. Imai Asami also does a beautiful job singing the opening as well as playing Ayumi throughout the series. Probably two of my fav characters from the game. The amount of feeling these voice actors put into their characters actually brought me to tears on more than one occasion… That Kiss scene for instance. Even people who don’t know the game and brought to tears just watching that scene on its own.
Now I found Book of Shadows wasn’t as good as the first but it did fill in a lot of holes here and there as well as give alternate versions of some of the character’s deaths. It changed everything with a first-person view where you wander the school as apposed to the top down view. I enjoyed this change because I got to look around at things a lot more but it was that last chapter that I enjoyed the most. It was a direct lead into Blood Drive and left me with a bloody “To Be Continued…” on the screen that would haunt me for 2 years before finally getting Blood Drive this week.
While I am against the tired old trope of gay characters dying off just because they are gay, I find Corpse Party doesn’t fall under that category. The gay characters aren’t just thrown in randomly and killed off. In fact the gay couples get equal treatment as the straight ones. This IS Corpse Party after all and everyone is fair game no matter who they are. However, it is interesting because two of the main Yuri couplings becomes the focus of a major part of the story, probably more so than any other coupling. While both their stories are very tragic it is one of the major drives I have to continue playing thorough each game one after another.
Spoilers: skip next two paragraphs if you don’t want to know who dies right away.
Naomi and Seiko’s story is beautiful and tragic. The sadness and pain was so well written. When I discovered the infamous kiss scene the whole thing made my heart hurt all the more, but it gave so much weight to their relationship. Book of Shadows only confirmed this with another chance at the same scene, but this time with a full confession. The lengths the writers have gone to continue their story with each game is something else. It is actually well thought out and emotional. I love the attention to how all of what happens would effect ones mind and soul.
The second coupling, Naho and Sakaya, is not as obvious at first and doesn’t really go into detail until Book of Shadows and more on Blood Drive. One of the two has a huge role in the story to a point that I can’t even discuss who she is without ruining things a lot. While their relationship is a bit more subtle it is confirmed in the Blood Drive art book. I figured there was something during Book of Shadows but thought it was just my Yuri goggles on high again.
So that brings me to Corpse Party Blood Drive. I’m only about half way through at the time of this review and loving the story so far. So many new characters and twists. My only disappointment is I won’t get to play Corpse Party -THE ANTHOLOGY- Sachiko’s Game of Love ♥ Hysteric Birthday 2U. This game is an AU that takes place after Book of Shadows and there are a few references to characters that first appear in this story. Xseed has declared they won’t be bringing this game out so I’ll have to really work on my Japanese or something if I really want this story. Hopefully, we’ll get to see Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient some time in the future…
Well that’s enough out of me. I hope that helped some understand my interest in this series and maybe a few of you will consider buying the games. We really need to support more games like this one, more so for the PS Vita because there are a lot of games on that system that are actually good but far too many people don’t realize it. Well, hope you enjoyed my little run through the games. I’ll write more when I finish with Corpse Party Blood Drive.