When I review the sequel to a game that I’ve previously covered, I’ll usually take the same approach. I’ll play through the current entry, building up a series of points that I would want to cover, and then, before actually writing the review, I’ll go back and look at what I felt about the previous game. As The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is the subject of this review, I went back to look at what I had written about The Coma: Recut when I review it on PlayStation 4 back in 2017. What I read there surprised me, as almost every point I made about the first game had an equal note for the second. I largely enjoyed the same things, found frustrations with the same things, and came away with the same overall feeling about both games. In a way, it’s the sign of a good sequel, but it’s also annoying that the same irritations are still present in a sequel released a couple of years after the first game.
The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters has you playing as Mina Park, a friend of the protagonist of the first game, and a fellow student at Sehwa High School. Though the first game focused solely on the school, The Coma 2 requires players to venture out to various locations around the fictional town of Songreung, including a Police Station and a Hospital. Like all good sequels, Vicious Sisters has taken the story and world that was introduced in The Coma and had expanded the scope and scale of both, giving the player more of a view into the world of the game and a fair bit of context into what is happening and why. There are regular chances to meet and interact with character from the first game, but as you play through the game and learn more of the story, these interactions will gain new depth and new flavors.
In terms of gameplay, The Coma 2 is built from a familiar recipe, where you’re regularly going from point-A to point-B to collect a particular item that will allow you to continue, usually through a locked door. Two major frustrations spring from this mechanic, one of which is par for the course in this type of game, and one of which seems to have bene intentionally placed by developers. The first is the fact that progression through the game is very linear, and even if you do happen to stumble across a room that contains an item that you’ll need, you won’t be able to pick up or interact with said item until you reach the specific point of the story that triggers it. This even extends to the point that an item won’t physically be in a place the first time through, and will only have appeared when you return. As Vicious Sisters is set in supernatural locations, this can be explained with a bit of hand-waving, but it’s still frustrating.
The second irritant is the fact that a lot of characters will send you to a particular location, only to remember once you get there that actually you should have gone somewhere else first, and then you’ll need to return to the original destination with the one particular item that will allow you to progress. Though this mechanic adds to to the length of the game, it happens frequently enough that it feels like a peek behind the curtain, almost as if you can feel the developer adding padding to the experience to make it that little bit longer. The Coma 2 is already a fair deal longer than the first game, with a runtime of approximately four to six hours, depending on how many side activities you participate in, so a lot of these ‘oops, I forgot’ moments feel unnecessary.
Though there are enemies within The Coma 2, and Mina does have a health bar that you’ll need to keep an eye on, combat doesn’t really exist, and instead you’ll need to keep an eye on your surroundings and make sure that your progression is measured and sensible. There are environmental dangers that can be spotted ahead of time and avoided with a bit of care and some well timed movements, and every now and then you’ll be thrust into a chase scene, where you’ll need to run away and hide until the danger has passed. Though The Coma 2 does a good job of creating a tense atmosphere, I never really felt in danger throughout the experience, and it wasn’t until the last couple of chapters that I started seeing a Game Over screen with any regularity. This was largely in part because of the fact that the difficulty curve within Vicious Sisters isn’t delivered through any change to the enemies, but due to a permanent reduction of Mina’s health points at the end of each chapter. This means that by the final chapters, you can only survive one or two hits before Mina perishes. However, there are always plenty of save points available, meaning that you rarely have to backtrack too far.
Overall, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is a horror game that while creepy, isn’t particularly scary, especially if you keep your wits about you. It never manages to create a feeling that you’re genuinely in danger, and so long as you’re sensible, both with movement and inventory management, there’s no reason why Vicious Sisters would be a difficult experience. Every now and then you might get unlucky with enemy placement or by taking a wrong turn, but I made it through the game from start to finish with little resistance. However, I enjoyed the fact that this allowed me to focus more on the world and the story, and that I could appreciate the impressive artwork and feel confident enough to venture off of the main path to find notes, which helped fill in some of the backstory.
I enjoyed my time with The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, more than I thought I would at the start, and even though it does feel a bit like more of the same when viewed next to the first game, the developers have added enough variety and narrative depth to make it feel like a worthwhile continuation. Though it is a little frustrating to feel like the same problems remain from the first game, such as a lack of challenge and the game not being scary, I still enjoyed the game enough to play it through from start to finish in one sitting, staying up past my usual bedtime because I was invested in the experience and wanted to see how the story ended. Narratively, I would say that this game should appeal to fans of folklore more than it should fans of horror, as it hits those marks more effectively, but there’s a solid atmosphere created and wandering through darkened hallways in an unknown location is always creepy.
If you enjoyed the first game, then you’ll likely enjoy the second, but if you haven’t yet experienced The Coma, then it’s worth starting there, as the runtime is fairly short and it will give you a good idea of what to expect from Vicious Sisters. There’s been no announcement surrounding a third game at the time of writing, but I’d definitely be intrigued by another entry to the series. I just hope that it feels comfortable taking a few more risks.