Hospital From Hell
XSEED’s at it again, bringing me more stuff to write about. And what’s this you say? It’s Halloween? That’s great then, because we’ve got a horror game on the docket today in Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient.
Now I will preface this by saying I’m not personally familiar with the series, but this title is a self-contained story which doesn’t require prior experience to understand. This game was originally released several years ago by a team called GrisGris and updated more recently. XSEED has brought us a localization of the later release, which includes a short side story as an extra. Corpse Party 2: Dead Patient was released to the West on October 23, 2019 on Steam for $9.99.
The game puts you in control of Ayame Itou, a teenage girl who wakes up bound to an operating table in a hospital that seems to have gone horribly wrong. Now, this game is very short, so I can’t go into too much detail without spoiling things, but after the brief prologue you have basically one goal: Find out what’s happening and get the heck out. Of course, as is the case with almost any horror plot, all means of escape are blocked, and so you are forced to walk around the hospital, looking for clues and anything and anyone that might be able to help you escape.
The story does have a few legitimate horrifying moments, but its over-use of weak jump scare tactics in even the least tense of situations will desensitize you to the genuinely disturbing moments. Even something as simple as a yes/no decision prompt comes with a scary sound sting (before making your choice) for no real reason (and if that, unnecessary screen flashes that might give you a seizure).
To top it all off, the story rather unfortunately ends in an obvious cliff-hanger moment (with the “good” ending; there is also a “bad” ending that can come about with some poor decisions). Unfortunately it appears the franchise died with this game, because the original version released in Japan in 2013 and, while the game available to us is labeled “Chapter 1,” no further chapters have been announced or released. So you’re pretty much going to have to make up your own ending, sadly.
To add to the story’s problems, the pacing is problematic, with the bulk of the narrative playing out in perhaps the last 30-45 minutes of gameplay. Of course, the whole thing will last you maybe a little over three hours at best, which is not exactly a great value proposition, especially after realizing that, as mentioned before, you’re left hanging. So even if you liked the story, which I’d describe as “Meh” at its best, you will likely never see chapter 2 (or 3, or however many there was going to be).
The included “EX Chapter” doesn’t offer much either. It is the same setting/story from a different perspective, and this “extra” is very short, at maybe 15 minutes or so, with minimal narrative or gameplay. It uses the same areas as well, and most of the objects and such you can interact with have the same text tied to them as the main chapter, making it come across as really lazily made.
Corpse Party 2 is, at its core, a variant on the point-and-click genre. While it has real time elements, the bulk of your interaction with the game is walking from room to room, picking up objects, using them on other objects, and solving a couple puzzles. While one of the puzzles was a bit cryptic, like any point-and-click game, you can eventually solve it by just clicking on everything in sight. Not terribly engaging, to put it simply.
It doesn’t make you think much and, if not for a small bit of stealth action in needing to avoid being detected by bad guys by ducking into rooms, throwing cans to distract, or hiding in filing cabinets, as well as a few really simple boss fights, it would be better to call the game a visual novel rather than really a traditional game.
The game also tries to pad itself out a little bit with a collect-a-thon side goal: Collecting patient records scattered about the hospital. Most of these are not really hidden and can be found by just playing normally, with a few exceptions, and don’t add much to the game. They are supposed to provide some lore, but the patient records are little more than a list of names and reasons they were admitted and they don’t seem to affect the game, even if you collect them all, making this a forgettable feature- I collected every one and still have no idea what purpose it was meant to serve.
The game offers decently atmospheric music and sound. Voices and sounds can be heard fading in and out as you move about, and sometimes there is a deliberate lack of music that serves to create that unsettling feeling a horror title needs. It’s not in any way award-winning, but it does its job reasonably well and adds a bit of enjoyability to the otherwise lacking experience. This is honestly the best thing I can say for the game, and it’s not saying much.
Where the game falls flat on its face, though, is the graphics. They look dated, even for the original year of the game’s Japanese release, and not in a particularly good way. There are many games out there with a retro aesthetic and are works of art even with their 8- or 16-bit pixel looks. This is not one of them. It just looks like it was made during the PS1 era when 3D graphics were in their infancy, despite being originally created in 2013.
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. The game doesn’t look terrible, but the dated look isn’t enhancing the appeal of it at all. Decent use of simplistic but effective dynamic lighting effects does serve to bring out some of that horror game feel. But none of this is really enough to salvage the experience, which is too short, incomplete, and entirely boring until near the end where it becomes less so.
While Corpse Party 2 does have its moments of clarity where the story is decent and things fall into place, it seriously leaves a lot to be desired. First, you’re paying $10 for a story you can finish in a couple hours or less (It took me just over three, and that was with spending 30 minutes on one puzzle that probably should have taken 30 seconds), making it a terrible value proposition in my eyes.
Second, even if you’re of the mind to see that as worthwhile, you’re buying a mediocre-at-best incomplete experience that, in all likelihood, will remain incomplete indefinitely. I suspect the franchise’s die-hard fans may call me out as crazy, but I simply can not recommend this game to anyone at any price for any reason. This is the first time I’ve ever said this, but XSEED probably shouldn’t have brought this one over based on that second point. This is one of the least fun games I’ve played that wasn’t functionally broken.
If you want a horror title that’s kind of retro and has some more substance, Spooky’s Jump-Scare Mansion is worlds more fun and more scary and, debatably, even better looking than this, and you can get that for the low low price of free (for the original version).
Review copy provided by XSEED Games for PC. Screenshots taken by reviewer.