Wake Me Up, Before You Go-Go
The follow-up to the 2017 survival horror title The Coma: Recut, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is a nightmare you won’t want to wake up from. Developed by Seoul-based indie developer Devespresso Games, it’s a genuinely creepy journey through a nightmarish mirror world teeming with eldritch tentacles, waxlike corpses, and one seriously demented high school teacher who wants to put you on permanent detention. With a striking hand-drawn manhwa art style and superb atmosphere, it’s a haunting adventure no self-respecting horror enthusiast will want to miss.
Coma, Coma, Coma, Coma, Coma Chameleon
Even though it’s a sequel, you won’t need to have played the original to understand what’s going on in The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters. While there are some returning characters, this is an entirely self-contained story that’s easy to follow from start to finish. However, those who experienced the first game will benefit a bit from being familiar with the game’s protagonist Youngho, who is good friends with The Coma 2‘s leading lady, high school student Mina Park.
The Coma 2‘s story begins with Mina staying late at Sehwa High to speak to her teacher, Ms. Song. After class, she discovers the door to a usually closed storage room open and decides to go inside and investigate. Moments later, she stumbles upon a mysterious book and passes out, only to awaken in “the coma,” a nightmarish version of reality. Once a bustling campus, the corridors of Sehwa High are now abandoned, save for piles of gray mutilated corpses and masses of wriggling tendrils that choke the halls. To make matters worse, a ghoulish version of Ms. Song now pursues Mina every step of the way.
Set across six chapters, The Coma 2’s story takes players from the warped classrooms of Sehwa High to a police station, goblin market, and more as you look for a way to break a mysterious curse to return to the real world.
Stylish 2D Terror Awaits
Played from a 2D, side-scrolling perspective, The Coma 2‘s core gameplay beat is all about exploring eerie environments, solving puzzles, and collecting scattered notes to unravel a surprisingly well-written story. Compared to many other survival horror games, the action mostly takes a backseat to exploration and worldbuilding.
Though that’s not to say The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is devoid of tense encounters. However, rather than honest to goodness enemies, these are typically environmental hazards, such as corpses that will slash at your heels or claws that will scratch from above to take a chunk of your life if you aren’t paying attention. More often than not, though, you can avoid these hazards by either waiting them out or using your handy dash mechanic to quickly run past them at the cost of some stamina, but your enemies will, for the most part, seldom actively seek you out.
Well, that’s except for Dark Song. Mina’s former teacher is a tenacious force who doggedly hunts her through each environment. Thankfully, you can usually hear the telltale clicking of her high heels when she’s nearby. Unlucky for Mina, she’s mostly defenseless. With no weapons at your disposal – save for some single-use mace that you can use to save your skin in a pinch – your best bet for survival when encountering Dark Song is to crawl under the nearest desk or another hiding place until it’s safe to come out. If Dark Song gets too close for comfort while you’re hiding, you’ll have to perform a quick-time mini-game to avoid being spotted. These are generally pretty easy to do, and admittedly don’t add a great deal to the experience.
The Girl Is Crafty Like Ice Is Cold
The game touts a crafting system, though it’s probably not what you’d expect. In several chapters, you’ll find workbenches and meet NPCs who will instruct you on how to create certain weapons or traps. If you’re able to craft these items, you’ll construct a tool to thwart Dark Song at the end of that chapter.
While not necessarily essential to completing The Coma 2, I can’t recommend crafting these items enough. After all, failure to do so will result in permanent damage to your life bar at the end of the chapter’s closing cutscene. And, as you can imagine, this will put you at a real disadvantage later in the game when the threats become exponentially more plentiful.
Overall, while I think calling it a crafting system is a bit misleading, it’s a pretty cool mechanic that encourages you to comb every last inch of the relatively large environments.
A Macabre Work Of Art
If you couldn’t already tell from the above screens, The Coma 2 is one gorgeous game. Each character and environment is drawn in an eye-catching manhwa (Korean manga) style that gives the game a very unique aesthetic. Each character you’ll meet and area you’ll explore looks great. The character portraits are especially nice looking and pack tons of personality.
However, the most impressive aspect of The Coma 2‘s visuals is the comic-style cutscenes. They are lushly illustrated and serve as a satisfying pay-off for completing each chapter.
Like the game’s visuals, the music is also quite good and helps dial up the tension as you’re exploring each locale, ratcheting up accordingly to match the on-screen action such as when Dark Song gives chase. It’s all cool stuff! However, if I have one complaint, the voices themselves sound a bit tinny and don’t match the quality of the sound effects and music.
The Coma 2 Is A Seoul-Sucking Nightmare
As far as survival horror games go, The Coma 2 has plenty of meat on its bones. The main story clocks in at about eight hours. And I enjoyed every second of my time in the game’s twisted nightmare world. Additionally, there are 60 notes to find in each stage. Not only do these help pad out the experience, but they also do a great job of filling in the gaps in the narrative.
But that’s not to say it’s perfect. While initially exciting, always clambering for cover when Dark Song and her minions appear does get a bit repetitive. They always tend to unfold in the same manner and I found myself wishing for a bit more variety in the encounters with Mina’s pursuers. Still, this was never enough to make me want to stop playing, thanks to the game’s brilliant atmosphere and engaging narrative.
One part Corpse Party, one part Limbo, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is an indie gem no fan of the horror genre should miss. With its distinct visual style, excellent story, and a genuinely creepy main antagonist, it’s easily one of my favorite indie titles of 2020. As someone who missed out on the original game, playing through this sequel for review has me eager to dive deep into it to see what I missed. If the game is anywhere near as good as The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, I’m sure I’m in for a terrifying treat.
Final Verdict: 4/5
Available on: Xbox One, (reviewed), PS4, Switch, PC; Publisher: Chorus Worldwide; Developer: Devespresso Games; Release Date: September 4, 2020; ESRB: M for Mature; MSRP: $18.99
Full disclosure: The publisher provided a review copy.