All I knew about The Coma: Recut going into it was that it was a Korean survival horror game. Other than that description, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I definitely did not expect to play a 2d side-scrolling teen drama based in a high school. You report to school on the day of your final exams where everyone is super stressed out. One kid went as far as to try and commit suicide in the school overnight while cramming for the exams.
You play as one of the students in the school and are immediately introduced to some of the basic mechanics of the game like how to access your backpack’s inventory, how to converse with other characters in the game, and how to access your notes about what you need to do next.
You are introduced to several of the main players in the story, including the mysterious girl from another school, the jock bully, and the hot teacher that you’ve got a crush on. Then, you sit down at your desk to take your first test of the day and immediately pass out only to wake up and realize that it is night time and everyone is gone. Also, things are different. And the teacher you have a crush on immediately tries to kill you with a box cutter, which introduces you to the run-and-hide mechanic in the game. Basically, you run away and find the nearest place to duck into and hide, hoping that she won’t find you and slash you to death with her box cutter.
You then begin trying to figure out how to escape the nightmare that you’ve found yourself in while trying to avoid being flayed alive and also trying to figure out exactly how and why you ended up in the situation you’re in.
I found the interface for such a simple game to be surprisingly unintuitive and clunky. The tutorial screens are all presented pictographically, so you have to try and interpret what they are trying to tell you to do based on the illustration. This doesn’t always seem to translate perfectly, which led me to just having to press buttons until I figured out what exactly I was supposed to do next.
There is a dodge rolling ability that your character has in order to try and evade any threats coming his way. You are also equipped with a flashlight that can help you navigate, but can also attract unwanted attention. There is a detailed map of the school with highlighted points of where you think you should go next in order to escape with your life. You can also collect money along the way which you can use at vending machines in order to increase your health, and stamina.
The game plays like a badly directed manga. There is a lot of reading dialogue that seems pretty irrelevant to the story and more just another episode in some wacky teen drama story that has nothing to do with surviving a mad killer in the school. There’s romantic angst that feels misplaced and unnecessarily awkward. The actual gameplay is bland and repetitive, with no real sense of actual danger. It all feels very contrived and nonsensical; at least to me. Maybe there’s some cultural context that doesn’t translate well to a middle-aged American male. Maybe I’m too far removed from that culture, both the culture of high school, and that of a foreign country, to be “in the know” when it comes to what makes this game interesting. But, to me, it was just campy and lame.
The only positive things about this game, in my opinion came from the art direction. The character design was really well done and the atmospheric design of the school and the subtle changes from when you see it during the day and then at night when it becomes a nightmarish slaughterhouse is quite impressive. Otherwise, the game lost me. I didn’t feel any sense of attachment to the characters or any feeling of urgency when it came to escaping the situation, even though the game kept assuring me that there was plenty of urgency to be felt, indeed.
As I said, maybe I just didn’t get it, but to me the game lacked any kind of punch, or hook to get me really invested in the fiction that it created around me. I had no incentive to want to see it through. I would not recommend this game to anyone unless you’re just really into Korean 2d survival horror games that take place in a high school. Then, maybe, this game is what you’re looking for.