Return to the Nightmare of Heavenly Host Elementary School

If you have been following Horror Game Icon since the beginning, you may have noticed that I mostly look back on titles that were inspired or followed Resident Evil’s formula (with some exceptions). However, my love of horror games is not limited to this style or setup. Case in point being how much I’ve enjoyed the Corpse Party series and it all started with the first entry.

Corpse Party is a horror game that started as a student project that grew to become a major franchise with an established fan base. The first game follows a group of friends who have been transported to a school in an alternate reality. However; terror lurks at every corner and the wrong actions could result in a grim ending.  

As the season of fear continues, Horror Game Icons looks back at the story and influence of Corpse Party

From Indie Darling to Horror Icon

Before getting into Corpse Party, it helps to look back on its rise from an indie title to a horror icon. The game we would all know as Corpse Party was the brainchild of Makoto Kedouin (then a college student) who released the game as part of the Spring 1996 edition of LOGIN Sofcom. Move on to 1997, the game would win the grand prize at the ASCII Entertainment competition. However, it would be some time until it would the attention of the horror community.

In 2006; Corpse Party: Blood Covered was released in Japan for the PC as a remake of the original game. Its success was followed by a mobile and a portable console version dubbed Corpse Party: Blood Covered Repeated Fear in 2011. North American and European fans finally got the chance to experience Repeated Fear in 2012. It wouldn’t be until 2016 when the world got to experience Blood Covered when it was launched for the PC (released as just Corpse Party). 

The Steam version is actually a translated port of Corpse Party: Blood Covered, which is a remake of the original Corpse Party and was released in 2008 in Japan. A few other games in the series have been released in Japan while in the US we got a couple of the sequels and enhanced remakes. Thus, the game I’ve been playing and will be basing this take on will be Blood Covered.

The Last Day of School

It’s Mayu Suzumoto last day at Kisaragi Academy as she is transferring to a new school. To make the most of her last day, Ayumi Shinozaki organizes a going away party with Naomi Nakashima, Yoshiki Kishinuma, Yuka Mochida, Seiko Shinohara, Sakutaro Morishige, Satoshi and Yuka Mochida along with their teacher, Yui Shishido. The group comes together to perform a charm that will bind them together as friends.

However; an earthquake strikes and the group is knocked out. Everyone awakens but are separated and relocated in a derelict school. It becomes clear that they are at Heavenly Host Elementary (the school that use to be located on what is now Kisaragi Academy) in an alternate reality. Everyone must try to meetup and find a way to escape. Making matters worse is the presence of an entity that is a manifestation of an evil that once terrorized the former school.

The story is broken up into five chapters as players must take on different characters and navigate through the school. They must try to find the others while also avoiding the ghost of Sachiko Shinozaki. At the same time, one needs to be aware of their actions if they want to achieve the good ending.

The Legend of Heavenly Host

From its frightening atmosphere to its unforgettable deaths and multiple endings all have made Corpse Party an unforgettable horror game. The original game and remakes have been praised by critics along with horror fans. A number of spin-offs and sequels have also been released that build upon the success of the classic. 

The franchise was not just limited to video games as it grew into other mediums. A manga series along with a live-action movie was also produced. Outside of video games, the most iconic adaptation has been the 4-part OVA, Corpse Party: Tortured Souls. First released in 2013, it’s a retelling of the classic game. The OVA has been praised for not only being faithful to the game but for also being one of the best horror anime’s.

That is also not the end of the original game’s legacy. A remaster was recently released in 2021 (literally a few days ago at the time of writing). While my review is still in the works, it’s showing to be a promising remaster that carries on its legacy.

A Lasting Nightmare

Corpse Party is the classic indie story of how one developer’s passion project grew to become a major franchise and a staple of horror games. It’s a game that has been remade, remastered, and retold a number of times. Even after all these years, the first game has always been one worth going back to. 

Did you ever play Corpse Party and what are your thoughts on it? Let us know in the comment section. 

8Bit/Digi is an independent media outlet that provides an insight into the video game community and industry of the San Francisco Bay Area.

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