When I think of Corpse Party, my mind immediately goes to Corpse Party on the PSP, and especially my experience playing through the English version in an era where I still had yet to learn much of the Japanese language. Even with a premise as simple as several teenagers falling afoul of a curse, and now must try to find their way back home from a freakish alternate dimension, the game succeeded in scaring despite its RPG and visual novel hybrid trappings, through the intense descriptions of the possible gruesome ends to the playable characters, and the use of sound in order to instill fear into your hearts.
Sadly, personally I feel that liberties were taken in the storytelling, especially in the games after the original, but this is where Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient comes in. This first chapter of a larger sequel released in 2013 in Japan, but no follow-up was released, although the game did get an improved version in 2017, which is what this localized version by Xseed is based on.
In Corpse Party 2, players take control of amnesiac schoolgirl Ayame, who wakes up strapped to an operating table with no memory of what happened, and the hospital seemingly abandoned, roaming with zombie-like patients who have undoubtedly gone mad. Scared and alone, Ayame ventures off into the unknown hospital in order to find other survivors, and a way out.
With a fresh new premise, I was immediately intrigued by the new story that the team wanted to tell with Corpse Party 2. While Corpse Party’s Heavenly Host Elementary was a stifling, crumbling alternate dimension full of horrors, the Amare Patriarcha Crucis hospital that Ayame explores partially in this game is a modern setting without any dimensional shenanigans. The fear of this environment comes not from crumbling buildings, but rather the profound sense of unease that comes from a defilement of a place of aid and human virtue, coupled with the fear of walking down empty, echoing halls after dark.
Unlike horror games such as Ao Oni, Ayame doesn’t travel alone much. There are other survivors in the hospital, including a bunch of Ayame’s school friends who have come to visit her, as well as fiery reporter Satomi Ritsuko who is well-meaning, but also very stubborn. One of the charms of the Corpse Party series has always been seeing these character interactions and having people actually travel in these small groups in a horror setting, and this game does pay off in this respect. The Extra Chapter even reveals a familiar face that is sure to give series loyalists a smile.
Gameplay-wise, Ayame and the others will have to go through several hoops in order to achieve their current objective, such as taking different paths, solving puzzles, and avoiding the enemies that appear along the path. There are also two bosses to take out, although figuring out what to do can be obtuse. I felt that the top-down action elements can feel a bit scaled-down coming from Corpse Party: Blood Drive, although this is because this game was released first, and it feels adequate for the short amount of playtime you get in this chapter.
Speaking of playtime, this is most definitely the biggest flaw of the current Chapter, as it’s an introductory segment that is the start of something bigger. My overall playtime of the main story, including getting both possible endings, ended up being 1.5 hours in total, which matches up with the original Corpse Party’s Chapter 1, but feels awfully short when the Chapters are released individually like this.
Personally, I also liked the music of the first game more, as in this game the music is less foreboding and more of a low hum that ramps up the tension. It also feels like more text could be added, as there were several instances where I expected Ayame to comment on something, but it never ended up happening.
I’m very happy that Xseed has seen it fit to release Corpse Party 2 in 2019 in English, long after the first release, but when you get such a pleasing appetizer of a story like Chapter 1, it’s a shame to realize that the other chapters might never come out at all. We might have to resort to black magic once more. Happy Halloween!
Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient is available on PC via Steam and GOG.