October is well underway and with it the slew of new horror titles. This time we will take a look at The Coma, a new 2D horror adventure from Devespresso, a developer from Seoul, South Korea. You must escape from the most terrifying place of all – a high school.
You play as Youngho, a high school student, who after an all-nighter arrives at school only to find out that there was a mysterious suicide there earlier that day. Despite this the professors still insist on holding the exams. Our protagonist falls asleep during the exam only to wake up at night. Alone with only a flashlight, he soon encounters his normally innocent teacher Ms. Song who is now out to get him.
After the initial introduction, the game exclusively takes place in the alternative horror world, called The Coma. It is here that you must try to escape this realm and piece together what is actually happening.
The story definitely has its strong points. The characters you meet in this world are interesting to say the least. They all have different backstories and motivation which you will unravel as you play the game.
In the Coma you are defenseless. You have no weapons and no way to stagger your pursuer. You can only run or hide, frequently both. After being spotted your only safe choice is to run as far away as possible and jump into a hiding spot before the pursuer notices where you have gone.
The Coma offers a giant area to explore. From the various classrooms to the library, biology room, art room and staff rooms there is a variety of locations to explore and hide in. The whole school is plastered with notes, which are the primary way of learning more about the it and its students. You will also pick up numerous documents which slowly paint the entire story of the world of Coma.
The atmosphere is perfect. Keeping your flashlight off will allow you to sneak around, but it will make exploring a lot more difficult. You will have to listen for the footsteps in the distance and decide if it’s the time to jump into the nearest hiding spot.
As you progress through the game Ms. Song will grow evermore deranged, running faster and faster, while carrying more and more dangerous weapons. These additions as well as the infrequent falling corpses or exploding poisonous mushrooms will keep you on edge.
As you explore the High School you will find various items, ranging from key items with which you will be able to progress the story, to consumables such as candy bars to replenish your health or water for stamina. You can even use coins you found on the way to buy items from the vending machines.
The Coma can get really challenging especially toward the end, where there is no way past the frightening Ms. Song except to lure her to the other side of school before you make your escape. Making things more challenging are stat ailments, poison and bleeding, each curable with a different item.
The game offers some choices and optional quests which can influence the outcome of the game. You even unlock the game’s picture album and an alternative costume for one of the characters once you beat the game.
By the end of its 4 to 5 hour run things can become a bit too formulaic. You will be backtracking through the entire school a number of times and aside from Ms. Song there is little to keep you on the edge the second time you are told to go back to the first building. I would have loved to see you return to the real world and witness how your actions changed reality, jumping between these two worlds, a-la Silent Hill, which would have drastically improved the pacing.
The Coma is not bug free. I would frequently find menus or screen effects from the previous scene still active after I reloaded the game. There was also a part of the game were it froze on me. Thankfully this only happed in one scene near the very end of the game, so we can hope that such things will be patched in the near future.
Another aspect where I couldn’t but be disappointed was the lack of gamepad support. And while the game is perfectly playable with a keyboard and mouse the controls did take some getting used to.
The production values for this game are impressive especially for an indie title. The beautifully hand drawn characters and meticulously detailed backgrounds make this game quite the looker.
The Coma is a good title with excellent visuals, creepy atmosphere and an interesting 2D take on the genre. However, it is not without its flaws. The cliffhanger ending, bugs, almost no enemy variety and lack of gamepad support might put off some. Still, if you are looking for an enjoyable horror to play over Halloween you shouldn’t miss out on The Coma.
You can pick up The Coma on Steam for 9,99.