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An indie horror game worth playing, or should somebody pull the plug already?

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    The Coma: Recut

    Rating: 3.5 – Good

    An indie horror game worth playing, or should somebody pull the plug already?

    Horror Game fans are a peculiar (and dedicated) fan base. There’s just something about knowing you’re in mortal danger and needing to find a way out that keeps Horror Game fans coming back for more (me included!), so chances are pretty good that if you’re a die-hard Horror Game fan, you’ve played just about everything out there worth playing and are always looking for the next game to fill that void.

    If that sounds like you, hearing that there’s a game called "The Coma: Recut" coming out will surely pique your interest. However, is this the next game to fill that void, or should somebody just pull the plug?

    First of all, it should be noted that "The Coma: Recut" is a remastering of the original title "The Coma: Cutting Class", a Korean Horror Game that I haven’t personally played, but that is now receiving a make-over for its console debut.

    The game puts you in the shoes of Youngho, a struggling Korean High School student who stayed up too late studying for exams and is running late to school as a result. Once you get to school, you’ll see an ambulance is taking one of your classmates away after a suicide attempt, which is of course horrible enough on its own, but you’ll still have to sit for your exams. Youngho then pulls off one of the dumbest things you can do when taking exams and falls asleep during the test. Oh wow…

    Once you wake up, you’ll see it is dark. Youngho begins to explore, wondering how they just let him sleep through his tests (a great question!), and soon finds his Homeroom Teacher Ms. Song (who he has a huge crush on). However, this Ms. Song is… different than normal. She has way less of her usual "Hey, I’m worried about your Math Scores" dialog and way more of her "Hey, get over here I want to carve you up with this knife" dialog, forcing Youngho to run for his life as he’s stuck in a hell-ish version of his High School with no idea on how to escape.

    The game’s story gets into the horror fairly quickly and really doesn’t let up too much from there. You’ll have to explore a twisted version of your High School while trying to find a way out and occasionally dealing with your classmates and other unknown people. This story premise is actually pretty close to "Corpse Party" if you’ve ever played that, except the game doesn’t build up Youngho’s relationships with his classmates nearly as well, and instead relegates them to genre stereotypes such as "token Jock", "token Nerd" and "token girl Youngho has a crush on". It’s an interesting premise however, and the story itself (while not explained that well in actual interaction or dialog) is fleshed out quite a bit by collectible notes you can find around the school. I just wish the game had more actual meat to the people Youngho interacts with instead of just relying on the lore and premise the game provides.

    Actually exploring your former High School is very simple, as you may expect since the game is 2D and all. Youngho will walk around and explore rooms, trying to find locations or items that advance the story. Of course, while you do this you are bound to be found by the "monster" and get chased, which will often require that you return to a hiding place scattered around the school. Running and doing Youngho’s dodge move (a nifty forward tumble that WILL save your life) drain stamina however, so you’ll need to keep an eye on that as well as you play.

    And that’s really all there is to the game. There’s NO option to fight here, so exploration and running for your life is all you can really do. You can also find money in the game you can use to buy items that restore your health and stamina, as well as recover your status (some enemies can poison you or make you bleed), but that’s about it for the game play.

    The game’s 2D perspective is definitely one aspect that makes "The Coma" stand out. The sprite-work here is well done and includes plenty of detail to make the characters great to look at and the environments just plain fun (read: spooky) to explore. In particular, I loved the fact that when Youngho runs, he occasionally glances back in horror. A lot of the school is quite repetitive, but thanks to the background details and various horrific effects it is still fun to explore (the notes and coins you can find help as well). Overall, despite being 2D, this is a good-looking game.

    Like most horror games, The Coma is all about atmospheric music, and the game does a good job with it here. Off-tune notes and deep, foreboding thumps here and there do a great job of making you think twice about moving forward (and honestly, probably made this game last longer for me than it should have!). When you get found, the music ramps up into a frantic pace that really gets your heart going (just like it should!). I also happened to really like the "safe room" music here, which is an off-key super market tune. As you may expect from an indie title, there’s no voice acting in the game. Instead, all dialog is just done with text boxes at the bottom of the screen, with giant character portraits just behind that.

    The Coma: Recut is also not a very long game. If you can overcome the haunting music and push yourself onward (instead of standing in a hallway, telling yourself you REALLY don’t want to go down there), you can expect to beat this game easily in about eight hours or less. Having a map you can reference that (sometimes) marks your objective locations really helps speed things along! The game also has a number of optional objectives you can choose to accomplish, but my estimated play time above includes those as well. It’s worth noting though, that there are multiple endings to the game based on your choices and who you talk to before finishing (many of your choices are also reflected in the game’s trophy list).

    Overall: 7/10

    In the end, The Coma: Recut delivers a solid (albeit short) 2D horror experience. However, the game as a whole suffers a bit from being a "one-hit wonder" in the game play department, as after being chased 7-8 times in a row… being chased the 9th time just doesn’t scare you anymore, which changes the game play from "run and hide horror" to "here we go again monotony". The game’s short length definitely helps a bit here though, enough that I’d say if you do enjoy these "survival / no fighting" types of horror games and don’t mind the repetitive game play, then "The Coma: Recut" may be right up you alley. Have fun and keep playing!

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