- Developer: Devespresso Games
- Publisher: Headup Games
- Release date: 19/6/2020
- Price: £11.99 / $14.99
- Review code provided by Headup Games
Introducing: The Coma 2 Switch Review
I’m not normally one to start a game series in the middle of it. I would think that most of us understand the need to keep a story straight and if we were going to jump in at the middle, we would at least glance over a summary of the prior games. There are exceptions to this, of course: anthology series, sports games, some of the yearly shooters. For me, though, there is an entire genre that I have somehow always stumbled into the middle of: horror games. I like a good scare like anyone else, so I tend to play a decent amount of these and when it comes to series of them, I rarely start at the first. RE7 was my first Resident Evil game, and now The Coma 2 is my first game in that series.
A Frightening Other World
Thankfully, The Coma 2 isn’t quite a sequel but more the next step in an anthology, but with a bit stronger connective tissue. The player character, Mina Park, is a friend of the protagonist of the prior game, but other than than that and some shared horror elements, the game is perfectly standalone in its presentation. I never felt the need to go searching for the plot of the previous game while I was playing, and I just looked it up after the fact to get some context for this review, though I will admit that I am curious to play the last game if it’s anything like this one.
Mina, through unfortunate luck, ends up stuck in The Coma, an alternate layer of reality where everything is much creepier and creatures of legend are real. For example, her teacher has been transformed into a fiendish stalking monster who might chase her down through the hallways of her school if she realizes that she’s there. The world of this game relies a lot on Korean mythology and folklore, to the point that I’m interested in learning more about it after my encounters in the game. Eventually it comes to light that the titular Vicious Sister is attempting some kind of ritual that is obviously a bad thing and Mina must team up with other people in The Coma in order to stop this. The problem is that this revelation comes at least a third of the way into an already fairly short game. The pacing could have been tightened up earlier on or some dialog moved in order to make the ultimate goal more clear, because until that point it almost feels like random errands.
Run and Hide
The Coma 2 is a classic horror game in the sense that there is no fighting back from the monsters that are attacking you. You’re just as defenseless as a typical high school girl put into this situation. Given that you are moving left to right there is the ability to dodge around the monsters in your way to avoid damage. But, it eats up a hefty chunk of your stamina in the process, which you might need to run away and hide from the enemies that stalk you. There are also encounters at the end of each chapter of the game that, if you are not prepared, will cause you to lose one unit of your health bar for the rest of the game. At first, I thought that this meant you needed to have the pepper spray that gets you away from enemies normally, but these are in fact special items gained through side objectives. The game is completely playable, and beatable, with the lowered health, but keeping your bars will make sure you don’t die as much in the later part of the game.
Hiding is something that you are going to be doing a lot, but even when you do manage to run away and hide from a monster pursuing you, you can still fail. In each of the hiding places, you have to hold your breath when the monster comes in order to avoid them hearing and discovering you. This is done by entering in a button combination within a time limit (up, down, left, and right), the length of which changes depending on your hiding space. For example, hiding somewhere that conceals your whole body comfortably, such as a bathroom stall or closet, only takes one button press, while being just barely hidden under a desk will require you to enter a combo of three. I loved this because it had me double checking around me all the time and making strategies of exactly where I was going to hide when the time came to.
The rest of the time you will be moving back and forth in a 2D plane in order to get around, though sometimes using up and down to either move between floors of a building, between different streets, or into rooms. It important that you know how to maneuver well because there are enemies that will stalk you through an entire area. While at first I was really happy with how this was done, it became clear that was only because I was hiding from the stalking foes in rooms. There are cues that will let you know if an enemy is outside the room you are in, but there is no way to tell when moving between streets or floors, meaning there were quite a few times where I would make one of these bigger moves right into the grasp of the enemy hunting me down.
In order to give extra lore, The Coma 2 engages in a well worn trope of horror games: little notes being left all over the place. While I do like these, they’re not exactly needed to find in order to advance the plot. However, I was pleased to see that there was some risk and reward to getting them. Each of the notes is visible at all times, but Mina can only pick them up when she has a match or her lighter lit, something that makes you easier for enemies to find. It’s not a huge risk, but it is something that makes collecting all of these up a touch more rewarding.
Hold Your Breath
The visual presentation on display here is perhaps one of my favorite aspects. I make no secret of my love for animation in games and I’m always happy to see a different form of it. In this case, it’s drawn character sprites that are wonderfully expressive. The animation itself in the movement isn’t the best that I have seen but it’s not bad at all, just having a lot of character behind it. Anything that requires more than the basic animated actions of the game is played out in comic panels that are vividly expressive. Nearly half the screenshots I have taken for this review are of these panels, just so that I could go back and look at them in more detail.
When it comes to the sound, I was fairly happy with what I got. The music and sound effects work great in establishing and keeping up the tense atmosphere of some of the areas and there was never any sound that I found to be grating or repetitive. The one that had me the most on edge the whole time was the footstep noise (that cue outside rooms that I mentioned before), though it was a little disappointing to see that while it would fade in, it would simply stop abruptly before fading back out.
Waiting for Help
I was disappointed to find that The Coma 2 suffers from long load times. While I understand that it can take a moment or two for a game to get itself going, these were long enough that I would set my Switch down and go to grab a drink. I wouldn’t mind this if it was just one big load, but the fact that the game would have the long load just to get to the main menu, only to load again to get into the actual game, was somewhat frustrating.
The Coma 2 also has DLC. The bundle of all of this content actually costs more than the game itself! They’re completely cosmetic and I don’t see myself picking any of them up. While I do understand why some people might want one or two of them, I can’t justify them for a game this short that I feel I already got everything out of and might not play again.
Overall, I had a decently fun time with The Coma 2 and it didn’t overstay its welcome. But, there were enough problems that I would likely only return to this if I was itching for some Korean horror when the Halloween season rolls around. The price isn’t bad for what you get here, though, so if horror is something that strikes your fancy, you might find it to be worth a shot.
- Beautiful and expressive art
- Tense hiding systems
- Risk and reward in play
- Long load times
- Minor frustration in enemy encounter telegraphing
- Pacing issues in the story
- I noticed a few minor typos
The Coma 2: Viscous Sisters is a short and spooky experience that is held back from greatness by a few problems in the design.