Dr. Hellman (Vincent Schiavelli), from the safety of his tropical island, has created an elixir which can raise the dead, and he plans to use it to amass an army of zombies to threaten the world. Players control a nameless Marine who air-drops with some other soldiers in a covert operation to take him out, but the player-character is bitten by a zombie and his comrades are all MIA shortly afterwards. Saved by a Rastafarian named Winston, the pair then save a freelance journalist named Julie who is Going for the Big Scoop and offers information on Hellman in exchange for being escorted on personal errands. Winston, similarly, offers to help the Marine with his mission if he will provide support in Winston's treasure hunting so that he can upgrade from a Jeep to a Hummer, as well as using local datura plants to provide an antidote for the Marine's necrotizing condition.
The game is a less linear than Digital Pictures' traditional output, allowed you to access a map as well as choose how and when to tackle the available missions. But in the end, it's still a Full Motion Video game, which limits the actual gameplay to Shooting Gallery segments, albeit with actual light gun support if you so chose.
This game provides examples of:
- After Boss Recovery: Winston hooks you up with some Breath once you defeat your super-zombie Marine friends. Which is good, because you're immediately thrown into another fight in the Graveyard.
- Bottomless Magazines: Played straight and subverted. The Marine's gun can fire off endless streams of normal bullets, but there's two more varieties which are limited — armor-piercing rounds and Datura bullets (and Datura armor-piercing rounds).
- Daylight Horror: The entire gruesome game takes place in a sunny, picturesque tropical setting.
- Elite Mooks: Comes in a few varieties. There are Shadowmen that turn from pitch black to pure white and back againnote , and there are special masked zombies called Black Magic Strawmen and Reapers, which can only be put down with armor-piercing rounds or better.
- Fighting Your Friend: Hellman converts the Marine's comrades into super zombies that must be stopped in boss fights. They're immune to normal bullets.
- First-Person Ghost: We never see what the Marine looks like, since their introduction involves Face Framed in Shadow, and they're a Heroic Mime to boot.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: The other Marines all sport glowing eyes once Hellman has turned them into super zombies.
- Government Conspiracy: Hellman had the Pentagon's support with his ideas for creating a limitless supply of ground troops, until he took it just a bit too far...
- Healing Herb: Datura counteracts the zombies, whether it's to restore your health with a beverage known as "Breath" or to put down the stronger zombies by coating your bullets in its essence.
- Hollywood Voodoo: Winston uses bones to tell people's fortunes.
- Home Base: Winston brings you to the Graveyard between missions, and it's where you retreat to if you abort a mission in progress.
- In-Game TV: Occasionally the Marine watches "Hellman TV", transmissions straight from the doctor, on a portable screen.
- Large Ham: Winston loves to chew the scenery. Hellman is pretty subdued by comparison, but he still has his moments.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Winston and Julie bicker whenever they share a scene.
- Mook-Themed Level: Each area is home to a specific "brand" of zombie. Hellman's fortress has ones dressed like prisoners that movie extremely fast, the swamp has hippie-dressed ones that are slower, and so on.
- Nintendo Hard: Between the game throwing so many zombies at you and the need to collect the right kinds of ammo to defeat the otherwise-invincible elite zombies, it becomes very easy to die, or to get stuck in a loop of farming Datura for bullets and Breath such that you make no actual progress.
- Not Quite Flight: Oddly, some zombies seem to fly straight at you, but the arcs suggest they could just be massive leaps, too.
- Pirate Booty: Winston is on the hunt for this to fund his Hummer.
- P.O.V. Cam: The whole game is from the Marine's point-of-view.
- Prop Recycling: The skull-faced masks of the Reaper zombies were originally the helmets of the motorcycle riding Red Triangle gangsters in Batman Returns
- Sidequest: The missions to help Julie and Winston with their personal affairs. They're normally be an Escort Mission, but they're never in any actual danger.
- Single-Use Shield: Juju Sticks guard you from a single attack by Elite Mooks.
- Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Winston is introduced throwing his machete into a zombie's chest.
- Tropical Island Adventure: The game is set on the fictional Caribbean island of Cay Noir. In real life, most of the footage used was shot in Puerto Rico and around the area.
- Updated Re-release: Even before the 2019 remaster, the Sega Saturn was home to Corpse Killer: Graveyard Edition, which added power-ups dropping during the shooting gallery portions and new zombie attacks where they get up close and personal, as well as a difficulty selection.