Last week, I reviewed The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters in its early access form (find our review here!). I was really impressed with the terrifying sound design, gorgeous art, and fascinating lore. Tomorrow, January 28th, we’ll get Vicious Sisters’ full release, unlocking more content and plot, and I absolutely can’t wait to see what new surprises are ready for us! The Coma 2 definitely left me wanting more, so I figured this weekend was the perfect time to dive into The Coma: Recut – a remastered version of the original game, The Coma: Cutting Class.
(Sidenote: I made a mistake in my original article, referring to Youngho and Mina as siblings, instead of friends. Sorry about that!)
High school can be a nightmare… especially defenseless against a knife-wielding monster!
The Coma follows Youngho – a stressed out student at the very selective Sehwa High. When Ms. Song – a gorgeous kpop idol-esque teacher – asks Youngho to stay after class and talk about grades, he’s ecstatic. Afterall, the two of them face to face is basically a date, right?! Unfortunately for Youngho, his desperate all-nighters to study have taken a toll, and he falls asleep during his exam. Even more unfortunately, instead of waking up to a bad grade and disappointed teacher, he wakes up in a dark, nightmarish version of Sehwa, haunted by a vicious, deadly reflection of Ms. Song.
One of the interesting features of The Coma is that you don’t have the option or ability to fight back. Instead, you’re armed with a flashlight and some snacks and drinks to help with stamina and health. If your would-be killer comes screeching at you out of the darkness, your only option is to get away as quickly as you can, and hide until she gives up her pursuit. Armed with nothing but a flashlight and some canned coffee, you’re definitely under some heavy pressure to pay attention to hiding spots and be smart as you move around. You’ll also occasionally have the opportunity to make choices – should you use that first aid kit on a shade? If you could change your math grade to passing, would you?
Ms. Song may be a little too desperate to murder you
While Ms. Song’s appearances are definitely terrifying, sometimes it feels like they might be too frequent.. Occasionally this blurs the line between spooky gameplay and an unnecessary setback. Quite often you’ll even run straight into her as you go up or down the stairs. In a game so dependent on exploration, it can become a little tiring at times. This is something I definitely feel is improved in the sequel, where you still have a killer hot on your heels, but are given much more space to do what you need to do.
The character design and 2D art style are surprisingly vivid for a horror game, and it’s pretty impressive that it manages to be so without sacrificing the tense atmosphere. Even with a flashlight out, areas of the screen are pitch black. You often will hear Ms. Song instead of see her – a furious shriek from the darkness and quick running. Horrific bodies hang from ceilings, or appear mutilated in the toilets. For a game so gorgeously drawn and coloured, nothing about Sehwa High feels safe or pleasant, no matter where you are.
Turns out the real Sehwa High is a little nightmarish too – pick up notes to learn more about the staff and students
Alongside the main story, Youngho’s search throughout the school uncovers plenty of subplots and dark doings throughout the high school. A few of these plot threads are even continued in notes found in The Coma 2. I found myself really invested in reading more about the drama among Sehwa’s faculty, solving mysterious disappearances, and picking up more disturbing lore.
There were a couple threads of story I would have wanted to see fleshed out (the prank call story and the disappearing student seemed really promising, but I didn’t find much else about them). Other threads are continued in the sequel. While The Coma isn’t fully necessary to understand The Coma 2, I did learn quite a bit more when I went back to the first game, and it made some things in the second make a lot more sense.
The Coma and The Coma 2 have some of the best sound design I’ve seen in a horror game. Nothing will set off your nerves quite like Ms. Song’s heels in the dark corridors
Like The Coma 2, my favourite part of The Coma is definitely the atmosphere. The dark hallways and grotesque surroundings are already plenty spooky, but when you add in the top-notch sound design, it goes from simply unsettling to constant tension. Ms. Song comes with the sound of clicking high heels (something I learned to dread deeply in Vicious Sisters). Sometimes you can hear them in the distance – or something that sounds like them in the background music. Machines beep in the school nurse’s office and at least once I’m sure I heard the sound of a door sliding open somewhere in the building. The few relatively safe areas – such as the cafeteria – occasionally have some real background music, but it often sounds like something pretty and jazzy that’s just… decayed. The majority of the rooms and hallways don’t really have music in them – instead you get silence or a spooky assortment of “empty building” noises and your own footsteps.
You can find The Coma: Recut now on PC, Mac, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch!
Already played it and looking forward to The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters? You can grab early access on Steam now for a sweet 10% discount, but be warned that save data will reset tomorrow, January 28th, for the full release of the game.
Either game will give you a perfectly spooky time!
Order Up! is a weekly column featuring indie-focused reviews, news, or interviews! We like old games just as much as new ones and are always looking for something to check out. Have a game recommendation, a project, or a company you want to talk about? Email me at [email protected] or find me on Twitter @ArcanaChance