As far as survival horror games are concerned, I’ve always found them to be nerve-wracking. There’s something about controlling the main character that makes them scarier to me than simply watching a scary movie unfold. The Coma: Recut is a mix of different genres that should make it even more appealing to fans of survival horror, and yes, it still delivers on the scary.
The Coma: Recut is a remastered version of The Coma: Cutting Class, and has been rebalanced and given new and updated animations, mechanics, cutscenes and art. I haven’t played the original, so I will only discuss this game without judging it against the improvement from its predecessor. As a Nintendo Switch game, you are able to play the game on your TV or on the go. What I’ve found is the game is even more of a thrill in handheld, with earbuds in. Set in a high school in South Korea, you are Youngho – a student faced with the stress of exams. As he sits down to take his exam, Youngho nods off and wakes up to find the school is different. As this dream feels more like a nightmare, you find yourself discovering more about it through notes and interactions with others while also trying to avoid a psychopath that will pursue you with a knife. These encounters, with my earbuds in, had me shouting at my table.
Now maybe I am a softie when it comes to these games, but there’s something about The Coma: Recut that ties things together. I think it’s that combination of genres that make it a unique game to play. It plays with stealth and point and click style adventure elements. As Youngho explores his high school, he will pass a cabinet. Or as he enters a restroom, he will see a stall with the door still intact. That crazed killer? She will chase you mercilessly. Roll at the right moment to avoid an attack, and escape! You can hide, but you need to know where you can get to in time! And you cannot run forever, as your stamina will run low. Best to keep in mind where these hiding places are located, for when she comes for you. And it will happen. What at times feels random and at other times feels planned, she will come for you. You can also crouch down and hold your breath, provided your flashlight is off and she hadn’t seen you do so before entering the room in which you’re crouched. You can only do this for a short amount of time, and it’s almost not worth doing so, but trying it sure does add to the tension. Hearing the background music change to inform you that she is approaching sure cranks things up. I could see how those more survival horror hardened than I might get used to this, but it still accomplishes its purpose for me. Be sure to save whenever you come across a chalkboard, and try to always have a sense of where the nearest hiding place is or how to escape.
The look and sound of this game along with how it plays is a cacophony of sorts and it works because of this. The graphics are possibly too bright and crisp for a horror game, but they are terrific hand drawn visuals for a 2D adventure game and I think the contrast made it stand out more to me. I like how Youngho acts differently when he walks depending on whether he has his flashlight on or off. The music adds a layer of creepiness, and when the lights are off the bright graphics now feel spookier. The music and sound effects are more than a layer – they’re the icing on the cake. The Coma: Recut is available on multiple platforms, but since this is the Switch review, I recommend playing it in handheld with headphones or do so with your TV if you have the means.
Having the means to do things is where the point-and-click aspect of the game comes into play. You will need to seek out different items to proceed, exploring halls and rooms of the high school. Vending machines provide items that provide benefits like health and stamina, and coin found around the school allows you to purchase these items. Of course, your pack stores only so much. You will find plenty of items and notes along the way. The notes flesh out the story and while they are plentiful and aren’t all necessary, adds to the game. One interesting thing I liked was that I could only pick up items with my flashlight on. It’s as if the scared Youngho, too timid to walk through the room with the light on, was unable to see that thing on the desk.
Something odd about attempting to pick up that thing on the desk, or attempt other actions for that matter is sometimes the button presses did not register the first press. At first, I thought The Coma: Recut was pulling an old Eternal Darkness trick on me. But I read a comment on the internet about someone else experiencing the issue. It’s unnerving but not in a good way, that the input is not always recognized. Not by any means making the game unplayable, it is more just a slight issue I would like to see remedied in an update.
I think fans of any of the genres The Coma: Recut uses to make this unique experience might want a little more breadth in setting and enemies. But where I’ve found a lacking of breadth, I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle depth the indie title provides. Youngho interacts in fun ways, like looking back in terror as he runs. The music, instead of just being silent during calmer parts, attempts to calm you down at times with other enjoyable music just to get you scared again. The high school environment contains a lot of detail that helps add to the atmosphere when things become more jarring. You are a student on a mission, and for that it does a fine job.
The Coma: Recut is not a very long game, but it works for the type of game that it is and multiple endings do add replay value. It is also very heavy on text, so expect to read a lot of dialogue interaction, discovered notes, internal monologue whenever you encounter something in the school. Since it looks like a comic, the amount of text isn’t so bad. The reason to get this game is for the mixture of gameplay elements and the enjoyment of playing a 2D survival horror game. If you aren’t the type that enjoys games that are spooky, tense, or frantic, you probably shouldn’t entertain a survival horror game that mixes point and click adventure with stealth. But if you like at least one or two of: survival horror, stealth, point and click adventures, or anime presentation, then I would recommend The Coma: Recut.