Developer: Devespresso Games & Stage Clear Studios
Publisher: Digerati Distribution
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Action, Adventure & Other
Release Date: 21st of December, 2017 (EU & NA)
The axe-wielding teacher will see you now!
Made with Unity and originally released as The Coma: Cutting Class, in October of 2015 for Steam, The Coma: Recut is a remastered version of Devespresso’s survival horror game and you know what? It’s not half bad. As a game made in South Korea, with a South Korean high school as its setting and “inspired by the real-world plight of Korea’s overworked high school students,” The Coma really knows how to turn up the notch and deliver a very creepy story, filled with dread.
I don’t quite get why The Coma: Recut, Bloody Zombies! and 60 Seconds! are all released this close to Christmas, as neither one of them are exactly festive, but The Coma: Recut has such an engaging story that I can no longer be bothered to query it, so instead, let’s talk about the story. Set in a Korean high school, like I’ve said already, The Coma: Recut is the story of Youngho, a freshman at Sehwa High School, who is currently going through a tough time. You see, at the school, it is exam week and Youngho has just spent the whole previous night, cramming everything he possibly could, but when he arrives at school, all is not well.
There is a mysterious girl he can try and fail to flirt with, a gathering of students and an ambulance, which is there to take a student who had tried to kill himself, to hospital. Surprised by the news, but still told his exams will still be taking place, there’s only just enough time to pick up a pendent that belongs to Ms. Song, a walk around the halls and a run-in with Ms. Song to talk about your grades before making your way to class. During the chat with Ms. Song, aka Youngho’s teacher to whom he is something of a teacher’s pet to and just so happens to look like a Korean pop star, Youngho forgets to give her the pendant back, and he’s really going to regret that!
Just as soon as the exams begin, nothing no longer makes sense to Youngho and because he was up all night, he suddenly feels tired and passes out, but when he awakes, nothing is what it once was. Unbeknownst to him at the time, the perilously dark and foreboding world is known as the Coma. The Coma is a world of nightmares that acts as a shadowy counterpart to the realm of the living that we exist in, but what makes it truly horrifying is the fact that the true horrors it is home to, exist because the horrors themselves exist in the real world. Nothing is all puppies and chocolate, where there is light, there is darkness and a whole lot of dank, dirty and dark secrets. Sehwa High School is rife with bullying and sex scandal and even a past that involves a girl committing suicide a long time ago and all of it can be revealed with every step Youngho takes in the Coma. Granted, most of it is learnable via collectable notes and memos that are posted and placed all over the school, but there are some beings in the Coma who are happy enough to tell you a couple of things.
Only, while there are some characters who aren’t exactly diabolical as they show they desire to hurt you, there are plenty who are. From Shadow Puppets of children you go to school with that have been pulled into the world, to a truly terrifying Shadow Puppet of Ms. Song, who goes from seemingly human, to a tentacle-haired monster wielding an axe, nearer to the end of the game, it is Coma Ms. Song you have to watch out for. She can randomly spawn behind you, which during the first hour of playing, did make me jump a couple of times as I didn’t expect it, and will chase you down till you’re dead, or she’s lost sight of you. The latter can be done by running away from her and hiding in a closet or bathroom stall, as long as she didn’t see you go into it, or running far enough away and crouching down in the dark, with your hand over your mouth to silence yourself.
It can take quite some time for Ms. Song to give up on her search for you, so if you do crouch down, I hope your energy bar is full, because as soon as it is empty, you will be standing up, and she will be chasing you once again, whilst letting loose with whatever weapon she happens to be holding at the time (box cutter, kitchen knife and axe are the weapons she wields at different stages of the game.) You will however, know when you’re in the clear because Ms. Song’s accompanying killer soundtrack will cease and the more mild dread filling soundtrack will resume.
The funny thing about Ms. Song though, is the fact she’s not even the big bad of the game, as that title belongs to The Shade! The Shade is a creature born in the Coma, much like any other Shade, except she really has a distaste for Youngho’s presence in her domain, whereas the other known Shade in the game, isn’t exactly happy about you being in the Coma either, but thanks to the option of choice, chooses to not hunt you relentlessly and kill you. (Yay for good Shades!) But even then there is more to the Coma then just monsters that want to kill you, poison you and even wound you, there are plenty of dark hallways to explore, money to collect and Shadows who need certain things to be done, should you wish to make it back to the world you come from.
Fortunately, for Youngho, he keeps a flashlight in his desk, which he can use in the Coma and never needs new batteries, but he will have to be careful using it, because when using it to see what is out in front of him more clearly, via the press of the R button, what is in front of Youngho, can also see him. Surviving high school is bad enough, but survival a demonic dimension alternative is something else. So, if you do aim to survive this twisted dimension, there are a couple of things you will need to know. For starters, always remember good places to hide. While you can perform a dodge roll with the ZL button and sprint with ZR, both drain some of your rechargeable energy bar, so they’ll only help you for so long, when trying to run away from Ms. Song, so always try to remember where the good hiding spots are, as there are a lot of them and running toward them will save you.
Secondly, food and drink are your best friend. While both can be purchased from vending machines that can be found all over the school’s 3 building, they can also be found when scavenging spots that are indicated by an icon of a hand. More than just food and drink, with foods restoring life and drinks restoring energy, with even some drinks such as canned coffee, making your energy bar remain unaffected for a few minutes, antidotes and bandages can also be found and are vital to survival. In the event you get wounded or poisoned, although you won’t die immediately, you can run the risk of dying over time, so it never hurts to cover your wound with a bandage and cure what ails you with an antidote.
Thirdly, blackboards are used for saving your game. They won’t restore your help, but they will let you save your progress, with four saves available to you, in case you realise you stuffed up something crucial and need to load up a save from one hour ago. (I kid you not, this is something that can happen, because while the game does have 5 endings, only one of them is the True Ending and to get the True Ending, you will need to meet very certain conditions.) So yes, saving is crucial and so is remembering to press the up directional button. Doing so will bring up the map and help you realise where it is you need to go and how to get there, but if you’ve forgotten what it is you need to do, then be sure to press the left directional button as it will bring up a reminder. Now you know all this, maybe you too can survive the Coma long enough to make it out alive and if you’re not scared, you’re clearly not playing right because indie classic, is a true gem on the eShop and deserves to be played, even if some of its main mechanics are basic at best.
If you are looking for a decent horror game to play on your Nintendo Switch, then The Coma: Recut is it. Its dark domain is terrifying, the villains are the things of nightmares and even with its hand-drawn graphic novel-like art, The Coma: Recut truly is a horror game worth experiencing. It can take you anywhere between 3-5 hours to beat it and it is definitely a game you should play at least twice, even when the month you play it in, is the month of December! In short, as far as The Coma: Recut and I go, The Coma did not disappoint!
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Digerati Distribution