Playing horror games on consoles has been something of a misnomer at times. For many of these, the real horror has been playing through ones that were being misrepensented as being something a gamer can enjoy and get a good scare from. For every Resident Evil success there’s been a Resident Evil failure, for every P.T., Dead Space, Soma, and Alien: Isolation, there’s an Amy or Ju-On: The Grudge to send you right back to another video game genre. With The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters (2020, Devespresso Games/Headup Games MSRP $18.99) now available on PC and all major consoles, the marketplace looks to be boosted with a worthwhile inclusion into the horror video genre.
Following up on the success of the original The Coma: Cutting Class, the game centers around the character of Mina Park, whose Sehwa high school experience is not quite the standard for a typical teenager. What at first seems like your run of the mill every day high school drama with class gossip and student interaction devolves into something much scarier as the facade of scholastic life fades away. In its place stands a game filled with mystery, danger, and scares as Mina’s race for survival begins once the discovery of an evil force is found. The game plays out as a 2D side scrolling adventure with basic controls to dodge, protect, hide and evade would-be captors and monsters lurking around many corners. It’s dependence on text dialogue and investigation requires players to read every line and follow every lead carefully.
The game also uses a four-slot inventory system that constantly reminds the player the importance of resource management to maintian enough health to continue on this dark journey. While item resources are not scarce to the level of the original Resident Evil, the games rudimenatry controls and reliance on timing necessitates the search for snacks and the occasional burger to retain enough helath to survive. As Mina’s escape from her high school and surrounding area (hospital, school gym, subway and police station) becomes more challenging, the option to craft items and locate tools become a needed weapon that allows just enough capability for the player to continue pressing on with the journey ahead. Coma 2’s best feature is its attention to detail in the story, a tale that delves into a dark world that can only be thwarted with a stoppage of a Blood Moon Ritual. The question that lies ahead to the player is if they will have enough on hand that will allow them to get there to stop it in time, or will the forces of darkness be too much for the game’s heroine.
To those familiar with the genre, the game will play out similar to what they have seen before from Eastern RPG and survival games. That said, it’s that design that uncovers some glaring flaws. The control design as mention above is rudimentary, so to the impatient it can be a frustrating journey early on. The techniques and timing needed in order to continue through the halls and pathways requires a graduslly learned skill that some may not be willing to acquire. When the game still is in its early stages, the dialogue of high school life can by eye-rolling and make you squirm in your chair as it plays out at first like a bad epsiode of Saved By The Bell. The games indecision on ethnic backgrounds, designs and names for its characters from this South Korean developer is a minor quibble, but should serve as a note to them for future games to commit to an all-Asian cast or one that is truly diverse. It’s fine to go with either, but just stick to a character roster that exmplifies one or the other.
Once The Room 2: Vicious Sisters is allowed to take off and specialize in what it does best, the game becomes a scary good time filled with many fun survival horror tricks and tropes. Patience, note-taking, inventory balancing, and timing are essential in this world and when used in proper context this game can be a fullfilling adventure worth taking. While this game may not appeal at first to those who are acustomed to the fast-paced 60 frame per second action of a Call or Duty or Fortnite, a trip through a high school gone bad may be just the pallet cleanser every gamer needs now and then.
(Please note that for this review, Pop Culture Cosmos/Game Source did receive a review code/model/sample from the company/developer/public relations firm responsible for distribution to the press.)