The first game in the The Coma released on Nintendo Switch in 2018 and told the story of how high school student Young-Ho found his way into the world of The Coma and how he had to escape a horrifying alternate version of school. While you don’t really need to have much familiarity with the first game before starting The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, you might miss a couple of minor narrative points if you haven’t experienced Young-Ho’s story. On the other hand, though, seeing as how The Coma 2 retreads a lot of the same ground as the first game, you might find that the gameplay feels a little fresher in this sequel if this is your first exposure to the franchise.
Perhaps the biggest change to the second game is that while you start the game in the same school, The Coma 2 quickly sees you venturing out into the wider city, visiting hospitals and police buildings, learning more about the lore of the universe in the process. You play as Mina Park, a friend of Young-Ho, and viewing the world through her eyes allows for some interesting alternative takes. You also get the opportunity to interact with other side characters from the first game, and alongside the new enemies and locations, it feels like The Coma 2 is a step into a wider world.
As far as gameplay goes, The Coma 2 is a side-scrolling item-hunting experience, where you’ll be asked to get from point-A to point-B in order to collect an item that will allow you to proceed through point-C, which is otherwise blocked. Annoyingly, The Coma 2 pulls a trick fairly frequently that usually requires you to visit location B-2 before making it to point-C, as the NPC that gave you the quest initially will suddenly realize upon your arrival of where they directed you to go that you actually needed to go somewhere else first. If this happened once or twice during a single run through it would be irritating but forgivable, but when it gets to the point that it’s expected then it starts to feel like unnecessary padding. The issue is enhanced by the linear nature of the game, meaning that even if you did know that you needed to go somewhere else first, you wouldn’t be able to pick up the specific item that you needed until you had already gone to the initial incorrect area.
The Coma 2 runs a fair deal longer than the first game, with about four to six hours required to see the credits, depending on how you get on with the various fetch quests and chase sequences. Combat doesn’t really exist in Vicious Sisters at least in terms of Mina being able to fight back, and as such the majority of your encounters with your foes will see you needing to run away and find a place to hide, be it in a locker or under a table. Mina does have a health bar which can be depleted by environmental dangers, with damage usually being taken if you’re not paying proper attention. Slow and steady is the way to progress here, as most obstacles can be spotted from distance if you’re not rushing around environments.
While the constant sense of an enemy appearing adds a sense of tension to the proceedings, I never felt like I was especially in danger, and I didn’t run into any real struggles until the last hour or so of the game, when I started to see Game Over screens with any regularity. A large part of this is due to how difficulty is structured within the game, with Mina’s health decreasing as you play through each chapter, rather than the enemies becoming stronger. Early in the game, you have the ability to make a few mistakes before you get a Game Over screen, but by the final chapters, you’re only able to take damage once or twice before Mina perishes. It’s an interesting way to balance the experience, meaning that while the threat level is constant, you need to get better each time to overcome it successfully.
The Coma 2 is a horror game that is tense and creepy rather than outright scary, and aside from a few alarming visuals and some well-implemented audio, there isn’t much here that will cause you to put the controller down in fright. This is especially welcome for a platform like the Nintendo Switch, as I was more than a little concerned that I would jump out of my seat on my morning commute. As long as you approach the game’s challenges in a sensible and measure manner, you’re never really in that much danger, unless you get caught out by the randomized enemy placement or you overshoot the door you’re aiming for while running away.
Though The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters isn’t an especially long game, I did find that the pacing of the game worked perfectly on the Switch, and the placement of Save Points and chapter breaks allowed me to play for short bursts and then put the system down. However, there were times that I wanted to play for longer sessions and really get immersed in the lore and atmosphere, so it wasn’t always perfect for the sometime hand-held nature of the system, and I would find myself waiting to get home and play on the TV before continuing.
Although The Coma 2 does stray quite close to the formula of the first game, there’s enough expansion and growth here to make it feel like a justified continuation of the series. It’s a shame that the developers felt the need to include so much quest padding, but the growth of the world and the lore that the extended runtime allows for makes this more forgivable than it might otherwise be. The Coma 2 lands more towards the tamer end of the horror genre, and while it might lack in outright frights, there’s a solid establishing of a universe, and I’m intrigued to see where a potential third game might go.