Devespresso brings us a little Korean horror game that is starts out with a bang and has all the right elements of a good horror game but soon starts falling short. Which is saying something for a game that doesn’t take too long to get through once you get the hang of things. The Coma: Recut is a mixed bag. It’s both entertaining and memorable but at the same time doesn’t have a lot of depth.
In The Coma you play as a student named Youngho who tries to pull an all nighter to study for tests the next day. Which as some of us probably know isn’t the best idea in the world. Almost late for school the next day Youngho comes into a situation at school. A student has attempted suicide. Well, that’s not a good sign.
After making it to class and talking to his teacher he goes to take his test (yes, they still take the tests. Hardcore, I know.) and quickly falls asleep. When Youngho wakes up he’s in an alternative, darker school and his teacher has turned into a homicidal maniac that is bent on chasing him down and slicing him to ribbons. This is all interspersed with dialog that, while well done, is fairly predictable. Not a bad start if a bit cliche.
The main mechanic of the game is running and hiding from the killer teacher. And as with quite a few other horror games these days, you can’t fight back. So your only option is to hide in cabinets or bathroom stalls until danger passes. When you first start the game it’s very creepy and tense. It’s dark and the killer teacher could be anywhere.
My first instinct was to wander around with the flashlight off and try not to attract attention. She still spotted me though. Everytime. It was inevitable that I would be in for a chase at some point or another. When she spots me it's time to run and hide. You can dodge but dodging (and running) take away from a stamina bar. So I had to use these abilities sparingly. Once that stamina runs out Youngho can no longer run. Which, more often then not, meant I was dead.
This is the main portion of the gameplay. At first it works really well. It’s tense and you’ll find yourself running scared and even dying quite a few times. In fact I got a bit frustrated until I figured the game out from dying so much. I eventually got the hang of the game which is about where the game starts to fall a bit short. I have to give it to the game here though, even when I got used to the teacher showing up at randomly, she still made me jump sometimes. Suprise!
Well, That Didn’t Last Long…
While the game mechanics are well done and the game can be pretty nerve wracking at first, that initial high fades pretty quickly. Eventually you’ll discover that it doesn’t matter if you keep the flashlight on or off, the teacher will see you anyway. So you might as well keep it on so that you can see notes and items.
And eventually the fear of the killer teacher wears off. After I calmed down and realized that a hiding spot is never very far away and running became a pretty simple process after some practice. Especially once I became familiar with the map. As soon as the music starts and I heard her scream, I would just make a beeline for the nearest hiding spot, maybe a dodge included, and hang out until the music stops. When the coast was clear I would continue exploring. Save spots are also quite numerous so even if you do get cornered and killed you’re only going to lose a few minutes of gameplay.
Once I moved past the initial fear of the teacher and trying not to get killed, the difficulty level was much lower. It was at this point that instead of being scared of the enemy I felt like it had become a bit of a nuisance. I would be exploring and here she would pop out of nowhere and I’d have to run back to a hiding spot and wait it out for a few. Then I would backtrack back to where I was and continue exploring.
It’s Actually Not All Bad
I hate to sound like I’m bashing this game. Coma isn’t a bad game per se but as a horror fan this game starts out so well only to lose some of its luster. That aside, it’s a pretty fun game. It has a pretty satisfying loop of exploration (even though there is a lot of backtracking) and hiding as well as entertaining characters.
There are other items that help you along your journey and are very generous to help you get out of different situations. Water can refill your stamina. Food heals you. And there are items to help with status effects that you can get from other obstacles in the game such as poison from giant plants that shy away from your flashlight.
Also, while the scariness wears off quickly, the gameplay is satisfying. Exploring and discovering different areas of the school is pretty fun. It’s just a little dissapointing that this game starts out scary but then isn’t scary once you get the hang of things.
The artstyle of this game looks really nice. It’s hand drawn in a comic book style that actually holds some nice detail. Even though it could have been repetitive (you see the same textures throughout the game) it looked nice enough to make that okay. It's definitely easy on the eyes. Expressions of characters are satisfying and show plenty of emotion even if they are exaggerated similar to an anime.
There are plenty nice touches such as Youngho grimacing when you walk around without a flashlight or looking behind him when running from an enemy. Objects in the game look nice and distinct even though a lot of areas look very similar.
Sounds Good Too!
One aspect that this game really shines is in the music and sound. Music is well done and intense. Sound effects are also well done and makes interacting with the game all the more satisfying. The sound of the killer teacher especially is likely to get your heart beating when she screams at you. At least for awhile anyway.
Coma: Recut has some good things going for it. It has great atmosphere and a great artstyle and sound design. It even starts out as a pretty decent horror game but unfortunately that only last so long. There isn’t enough variety to keep it fresh and challenging. It’s fairly short though and has multiple endings so at the end of the day it’s worth a try if you’re into horror games. As I said before this game is a mixed bag. All the elements on their own are good. It starts out strong but tapers off once you become desensitized. It was a bit of a dissapointment but I definitely don't regret playing it either.
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