Developer: Devespresso Games
Publisher: Headup Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Version Reviewed: eShop download
Category: Adventure, Other
No. of Players: 1 player
Release Date: June 19, 2020 (EU & NA)
Price: $14.99 USD
When The Coma: Cutting Class cut its teeth on the video gaming scene as a new release in 2015, it was the debut title of Devespresso Games and in no time at all, it’s gone on to be a worthwhile title.
From a remastered release in 2017, a mobile release in 2019 and now a full-fledged sequel in 2020, The Coma is a series that is showing no signs of slowing down and I will say here and now, before you even get the chance to see what I have to say about the sequel, I can’t wait for a third instalment. I want a third instalment.
As a series that takes some inspiration from real-world circumstances, such as what students in Korea have to endure and throw in a heavy dose of Korean folklore, The Coma is an appealing series that not only deserved a sequel, but the sequel delivers in ways we hoped and in ways fans didn’t expect.
Just when one could hope it was safe to go back to Sehwa High, three weeks after the events of The Coma: Cutting Class, (also known as The Coma: Recut, a remastered version featuring updated and new animations, mechanics, art and cutscenes,) there is nothing safe about it.
Enter Mina Park, a nice enough girl, the lead protagonist of The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters and someone who is currently going a few things. The school jock wants to make her his and her friend Youngho, the protagonist of The Coma: Recut, is still unresponsive, spending his days lying unconscious in a hospital bed.
Mina is distraught over what has happened to Youngho and pretty soon, she’ll no longer have to ask herself what is he going through, because she is about to find out. Sorry Mina, you made the mistake of falling asleep in class and now you will pay for it. The Coma has you no and our favourite murderous teacher, can not wait to make your acquaintance.
Just like with Youngho, Mina is going to have her work cut out for her if she wishes to make it out alive. Thankfully, she won’t have to do everything on her own, as all manner of mysterious strangers and creatures are going bump in the night and fortunately for Mina, not all of them wish to do her harm.
Unlike Youngho however, waking up in Sehwa High, it really is just the beginning for her, because unlike his adventure, Mina will not be confined to just the school as there are plenty of other areas in the Coma for her to explore, including a market place, complete with a murderous butcher.
Primarily, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, is a dark “atmospheric, story-driven game,” with elements of side-scrolling platforming and puzzle-solving to it. Much like with the previous game, players must explore each room and location, in a bid to explore everything and try and find the way out to their own salvation.
Players can run with the left analogue stick, hold ZL or ZR whilst pressing on the analog stick, but doing so will consume stamina, which can replenish naturally, but if you push yourself too hard, too fast, you will deplete your entire stamina and put your character at risk of death.
You’ll also need to sprint at the right times as there are certain enemies that will attack you when passing, which can cause status effects such as bleeding and poisoned, but thankfully there are items that can be obtained in-game to cure such things and you can find them naturally and purchase them from the vending machines dotted all over the place.
For the confirmation button, you can choose A or B, with your preferred choice enabling you to interact with the world around you, objects, hiding places and even crafting tables, an interesting new feature that I’ll talk more about shortly.
You’ll also be able to interact with the Book of Memories, an important book where players can write Mina’s name in, in a bid to save the game and keep her sane as writing one’s name is important whilst in the Coma.
The Y button is reversed for the Strange Lighter, a useful item for lighting up your surroundings and locating particular items, but while it can help you to see things, it allows the creatures of the night to spot you easier as well.
Another gameplay element added, are quick time commands. During moments where you’ve been seen and had to run for your life and find a hiding spot, you will need to input the right commands to control your breathing or risk giving away your position and possibly meeting a sticky end. Sure, there are times you’ll be able to use mace to get free, but mace alone can not save you from every threat in the Coma.
With regards to the directional buttons, these are using for accessing things such as the map, your inventory, which you can expand upon to carry more regular items, but once you proceed far enough into the game, you can even press the left d-pad button to use the Shadow Telecom.
Thanks to a special frequency, the Shadow Telecom is a mobile phone that players can use whilst in the Coma, to interact with certain characters they meet and call them up for advice when needed. You won’t always get the answers you need, or contact certain characters all the time, but it’s still a useful gimmick that will allow you to do an ET impression, as you try to phone home.
The right d-pad button however is used for accessing the notes you’ve obtained in-game, but if it’s a to-do-list you’re after, be sure to press the R button, but now, let’s talk about the crafting tables.
With them, players can find additional items that when brought together, can be used to craft very specific but non-necessary key items that have a one-time use. Now, if you find yourself asking, “if they’re not important, why bother getting them?” The answer is, their purpose is tied to your health.
When starting The Coma 2, players have a life bar made up of 5 sections and there are segments in the game, which at the end of them, if you didn’t take the time to craft these special items, can see Mina sustain Critical Damage, which reduces her life bar by one block, every time she endures these moments and once it’s lost, there’s no getting it back.
So, for the purists who seek a true challenge, feel free to ignore the crafting tables and endure the pain as you see fit, but if you wish to better your chances of survival, craft at every opportunity. There’s not many of them and they will make the game easier for you in the long run, giving you plenty more time to enjoy everything the Coma has to throw at you, including new hazards and the means of teleportation.
CONTENT & FEATURES:
In terms of main game content, whereas before in The Coma: Recut, where players are just restricted to Sewha High, with regards to The Coma 2, it’s almost a case of where don’t you go?
From a creepy high school, to a police station, a market place, more antics at the police station and new floors at the school to explore, there’s even a subway station, yes, there’s a creepy hospital with a morgue as well.
Unlike with the first game, where players could expect to beat it during a 4-5 hour play session, The Coma 2: Viscous Sisters can take around 8 hours to beat and unless you are diligent with collecting every last Torn Page and crafting the optional key items, you’ll more than likely need to do a second playthrough just to experience everything this chilling sequel has to offer.
From collectables such as the Torn Pages, 20 Bonus Art images that can only be unlocked through gameplay, secret areas and crafting, The Coma 2 is a meatier package this time around and whilst it can feel like it relies a little too much on fetch-carry-like quests, The Coma 2 is long enough to set a good pace and keep players engaged, instead of running too long and overstaying its welcome.
Admittedly, whilst The Coma 2 does consist of the one main campaign, additional replay value can come in the form of DLC, because, in addition to everything above, if you are as to whether you can play as a different character, or at least have Mina wear other outfits, the answer is “yes.”
With a total of 8 skins, each one will cost $1.99 USD/€1.99 EUR/£1.69 GBP each, however there will also be a bundle release for both PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch, which gives the player the game and all skins.
Incidentally, the PS4 bundle offers the game, 8 skins, 7 avatars, soundtrack and theme, but pricing for both bundles, regardless of platform, is set at $24.99 USD/€24.99 EUR/£19.99 GBP, compared to $14.99 USD/€14.99 EUR/£11.99 GBP for the base game on its own.
When it comes to horror, suspense and thrillers, audio is everything. Without the right atmospheric soundtrack behind it to lull you into a false sense of calm, whilst chilling you to your core, you end up asking yourself “is it time for me to be scared yet?”
Thankfully, this is not an issue with The Coma 2 as the soundtrack is exactly what you would like it to be and speed in which it changes the second you’re being pursued, it’s almost as if soundtrack acts as an alarm bell, screaming the word “RUN!” throughout your entire being.
There are some aspects of the game where you might feel the audio isn’t delivering as much as it could do, but when playing The Coma 2 late at night, in a darkened room and you have Mina cowering in a locker, all because you can hear Ms. Song’s footsteps outside, I challenge you not to flinch, when you suddenly hear a pair of footsteps outside your bedroom door and the door opens.
Just because you can hide from Ms. Song, it doesn’t mean you can hide from the people you live with. No amount of bed covers can hide you from their well-timed intrusion.
VISUALS & PERFORMANCE:
One of my favourite things about the first Coma game, was its gorgeous 2D illustrated design aesthetic of manhwa (Korean manga). Just looking at it the first time around, gave me some serious graphic novel/Sin City vibes and I was hooked on it from the get-go and The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is no different.
The illustrations are even better than before and with plenty more locations to explore, there is more to see and do and this is not just limited to the scenery, but the characters as well. Shadow Stalkers are bizarre, Ms. Song is intimidating, regardless of what form she is and then there’s Mr. Dokkaebi. (In Korean folklore, a Dokkaebi, is a Goblin that is said to possess “extraordinary powers and abilities that are used to interact with humans.”)
I really wish there was more of him in the game, as his face is nightmare fuel crossed with a car crash. You know you should look away, but you can’t bring yourself to do. As for the performance, I can honestly report I had no issues in this regard. No crashes. No bugs, just enjoyable gameplay from start to finish.
Nominated as the winner of both “Grand Prix” (The Best Game) and the “Best Narration” (The Best Narrative), during the Taipei Game Show 2020’s Indie Game Awards, there is a reason why The Coma 2 is on the receiving end of such praise.
It is a thoroughly enjoyable game and it is as clear as day that the developers gave it the same amount of care and love as the original title. The scare factor might not quite be the same game, as The Coma 2 is a repeat idea of things we’ve seen in the first game, but in almost every other aspect entirely, Devespresso Games have knocked it out of the park.
The only negative I have regards to this return to the dark world known as the Coma, is the fact that, even though I can understand the appeal of a slow build-up for suspense, the game feels a little slow in the beginning and even though things heat up, for some, the first two hours of gameplay might be what makes or breaks The Coma 2 for you.
While the scare factor might seem a little less so compared to that in The Coma: Recut, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is still an enjoyable slice of horror that has built upon the established foundations and taken them to new heights. So, don’t fall asleep on this one, Ms. Song wouldn’t be too happy if you did.
THE VERDICT: 8/10
*A download key was provided by the Publisher for the purposes of this review
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This post was written by Solid Jack