The Coma – Recut
The game at a glance
The game starts pretty much right away with you controlling the main character, Youngho. The tutorial gets going as you progress and start by meeting some characters and learning a bit about their background as you do. You also get a glimpse of what the main scenario is going to be about as a worrying ambulance is parked right in front of the school to pick up a student that collapsed without much apparent reason, and you pick up the main key item in the game right next to it: some mysterious pendant. Once all main characters have been introduced, the real game starts very quickly and drops you right into a horror movie: you wake up in class, alone, in the dark, and your beautiful and kind teacher tries to kill you.
This was really a good start for me. It was quick but it still took the time to introduce most of the characters and their situation, but also didn’t waste any time in useless dragged on chatter and brings you quickly to the core of the game. I also love how you instantly switch from the safety of your everyday school life with its perks and problems to an unforgiving and mysterious dark world without a clue as how or why it happened.
You start your game by going to school as always… but you aren’t even 2 minutes in that you’re already reminded something wrong is around the corner.
A nice, creepy atmosphere
As soon as the game switches to the main part, the coma world, the atmosphere kicks in right away. You are brutally taken from a light world, filled with people and earthly concerns to a dead silent dark version of it. The reaction of Youngho when he wakes up in this place is really typical: he is worried and a bit scared, but surprised and confused more than anything else. How did he manage to sleep in class for that long and why didn’t anybody wake him up? Looking around in the classroom, he already starts to think things are weird. Then as soon as he steps out of the classroom, he gets assaulted by a terrifying version of ms.Song, his main teacher. You get control back as you get attacked for the first time, run away, hide and there it is: the realization that he is in grave danger in a weird scary world. The survival game can begin.
The game really doesn’t waste any time throwing you in harm’s way and expects you to react quickly to your first assault. I loved how it puts you in the shoes of the main character as you barely have time to adapt and react to your first dangerous situation, and then expects you to figure it out for yourself. After this you get to explore the school at your leisure (and your own risk) as you find items, hints, objectives, and other characters. Of course, the killer can come back for you at any moment and you will have to run, hide, and heal to survive. Even seemingly safe rooms have danger in them in the form of traps like vines poisoning you, ghosts clawing at you causing bleed, or corpses falling on you.
From beginning to end the game barely lets you catch your breath as all those hazards keep ambushing you, and even when there is nothing you stay on your toes in case there IS something. Combine this with the great visuals that are dar, creepy and gore, plus the nice sound effects that keep you in a worrying mood, the game does a great job at maintaining pressure all throughout the experience, increasing the occurence of danger as you progress throught the story. Going from one room to another to complete an objective, sometimes in another building, makes for stressful and exciting trips figuring out the way while keeping safe. It felt tense from beginning to end, which is a great thing in a horror game.
Finding a friendly character in the dark can be a real breath of fresh air after spending so much time crawling in the corridors.
great chara design and illustrations
I thought the neat illustrations and chara design really added to the general atmosphere of the game. The characters were all unique, had some background, their own agendas, and were brought to life even more through the illustrations you are shown throughout the game. Sometimes it felt a bit like the story was told in the manner of a visual novel, though short, and it was a welcome change of pace from searching the dangerous school. Even the game over screen had really nice illustrations that changed as the game progressed and the killer changed weapons! I found myself dying on purpose from time to time after saving just to see if there was a different illustration upon death. Unlike many horror games i’ve played that have inexistant stories or narrative, this game has a nice story and set of characters, and the art underlines this part beautifully.
basic but refreshing mechanics in a horror game
I usually find horror games very lacking in the gameplay department. I’m a huge fan of the atmosphere those games provide but usually prefer the survival horror genre as you get to use weapons, items, and get to fight back. While you can’t fight back here and this is clearly just horror, I was very pleased to find a lot more game mechanics than in your typical horror game. You can dodge, run and hide even in the open by using up stamina, so managing it is key to not get hit. You also get a map of the whole school buildings. It might seem a detail but to me it reminds me of the maps in games like resident evil or some metroidvania, and I love figuring these out. And last but not least, you find consumable items to replenish life and stamina and cure status ailments such as poison or bleeding. You have only 6 inventory slots, meaning you have to manage these in the fashion of a survival horror. You can also find money by searching various places in the school, which you can then spend at vending machines to buy any consumables you can afford. To me, having all these options really makes the game more interesting than your average horror game where the only things you can do is run, hide, and find batteries for your flashlight.
Youngho’s childhood friend. While pretty close to her, Youngho’s favorite bully always makes sure to keep him away from her as he is determined to make her his girlfriend.
Our main character in this adventure. Youngho is your typical average guy in his school. While pretty smart, he’s got a lot of issues ranging from self esteem to being bullied and not very popular being a geek.
The mysterious and beautiful ally of youngho in this nightmare. She’s cold and direct and seems to have her own agenda. Not very friendly at first, but she takes an interest in Youngho (although not the kind he would want) and helps him out.
Youngho’s geek buddy. Smart and interested in all kinds of “nerdy” stuff, he’s Youngho’s closest friend. It’s a mystery as why he ends up in the same nightmare as him though…
Here is our main problem in this story… The killer, as this entity is called, is bent on killing (surprising right?) Youngho and anybody else present in the nightmare. For some reason, it took the appearance of ms.Song, Youngho’s beautiful teacher.
The biggest mystery of all. The shade seems to be the master of this horrible realm. It seems to be looking for something in particular…
My favorite bits in this game
As a horror fan in general, there is a lot to like in this game. The thing i’m most fond of here is the atmosphere. Sure the haunted deserted school setting is nothing new and revolutionary, but I love it and crave this kind of closed off building full of creepy danger at every corner where you have to survive.
While the gameplay is pretty simple and light, there are more actions and items than in most horror games. I like the survival side of the game where you get to find a lot of items by searching every nook and cranny of the school, taking more risks to gain an advantage and having to manage your ressources accordingly.
Finally, I love the art of the game. The illustrations are gorgeous, and the in game representation of the characters and objects has a really nice feel to it.
My Personal Rating
- Gameplay 70% 70%
Horror games usually don’t have much gameplay to them, especially the 3D ones, and while I love anything horror related that part is what sometimes stops me from enjoying them fully. In The coma, however, you got some nice additions: items like in survival games such as food, water, coffee, money to buy them, etc… It lets you manage an inventory, life, stamina and even status ailments, which are all welcome to make things more interesting than just running away or hiding. I also like having the option to roll to dodge attacks.
- Audio 70% 70%
Audio is essential part of horror games. It puts you right in the mood and makes you both a bit stressed and excited when you hear creepy sounds or voices in the silence. I think this game gets it right. The audio atmosphere is discreet by heavy at the same time, the kind that keeps you on your toes in case something jumps right at you. Except for the cafeteria, which is the main safe hub in the whole game where you can ressuply and take a breath, the whole school feels pretty dark and intense.
- Graphics 80% 80%
I really enjoyed how the game looks. It’s like playing inside some kind of illustrated book. The graphic style suits darkness really well and the proper illustrations you get the see every now and then are really well made. All these made the story and characters come to life for me and contributed a lot to enjoying the atmosphere.
- Lifespan 70% 70%
For a horror game, it was actually not too bad. Of course if you know where to go, how to accurately dodge the killer and don’t take your time to explore all the rooms and search points, you can speedrun that game pretty fast. But if you do take your time to look around, hide, immerse yourself in the atmosphere and try to understand the story and sub plots better by looking for the notes, it’s actually pretty good for that genre while keeping it interesting.
- Writing 80% 80%
In my opinion, a lot of horror games are lacking in that field. It’s usually a lot of running around pursued by a monster, a few notes scattered (sometimes not even), reaching the goal and done. The coma actually has a nice plot and a few mysteries that get untangled as your search the school and meet characters with dialogues and background. There’s even different endings depending on how much info you could figure out during your playthrough.
- Trophies 70% 70%
The version I played didn’t have a platinum, and while that’s too bad, it isn’t a deal breaker for me. There are lots of interesting games out there that don’t have one and that’s ok. This list is simple and most trophies will come from story progression, but it will still lead you to do both endings and make different choices, which is good.
The final word for the Shade
“ Over? Your nightmare has just begun. ”
When I bought this game, I was attracted by how the game looked. I loved this illustrated looking asian horror story. Turns out it was not the only good thing about the game, to my delightful surprise. Art, story, characters, and even more game mechanics than most horror games have to offer, it was all good to me especially considering the price tag. This is the kind of nice surprise I love to stumble upon once in a while.
As I’m writing this, I’m aware a second coma game was released and I will definitely get it at some point. I hope this series keeps going strong for a while.