The Coma: Recut Review

The Coma: Recut is an incredibly relatable game that comes to us from Korean development studio Devespresso Games. You know that one time, when you were in school, and you fell asleep taking a test? Right?? And then you woke up in a nightmarish hellscape where murderous phantoms stalked your every move and your classmates were all in on your psychological imprisonment? Kindergarten was hard, am I right? No? You never had any of these things happen to you? Well, I’m not ashamed I went to public school, so good luck taking that away from me.

The Coma: Recut is a re-release of the original Coma: Cutting Class, and this Recut is absolutely the better bang for its buck in terms of art, sound and performance. The original, which is definitely a cult classic (more on that in a second), suffered from being a little droopy in the character design, the music being unbalanced and underwhelming, and, frankly, looked like a Windows 98 title that had been dropped nearly two decades too late. I say all of that now having Recut here, on my Switch, fully optimized and looking as polished and sleek as heart palpitations can. You are more than welcome to seek out the original for comparison, and maybe I’m being a little too harsh on the first one, but there’s something about this Recut that just pops in a big way. It’s probably Ms. Song. But, at the very least, the game does run seriously better than it ever has before. Please note that this is a game that takes place in a high school, in Asia, and the girls tend to roll their skirts higher than you would imagine, and, yes, the teacher’s boobs are practically falling out of her shirt. If you have a problem with how high school is sexualized in Asian games, I seriously hope you can get over it, because this is a really awesome horror game and it’d be a shame for you to miss out because the pearls you’re clutching prohibit you from holding the Joycons.

So, storyline: you’re a Korean High School student who’s got a massive test today, and you got to witness the ambulance carting away a classmate who attempted suicide. Already a stellar start. Then the school bully threatens you if you mention that he’s probably connected to the suicide attempt, which is definitely not suspicious at all. Then, finally, you fall asleep and enter a dream where the school is dark and empty except for a ghoul who sort of looks like your teacher, only she’s empty eyed and has a box cutter and oh my God she’s coming right at you. A quick chat with the only other student you (initially) find tells you that you’re in some kind of dark, inescapable dream (a Coma, perhaps?) and the only way out is to figure out WHY you’re here. Using clues and riddles, you slowly unravel the meaning behind the madness and, with a lot of luck and skill, can wake up and not die in your sleep. Oh yeah, we’re doing Matrix/Dream Warriors rules here: death is death, no matter how you cut it.

The Coma: Recut is a classic survival horror approach that focuses way more on the immediate survival and not the long term idea. You have zero weapons and, hint, you weren’t the captain of the judo team or anything, you were just a dude in school who had a test today. So the scary, very dangerous monsters you encounter are not going to be disarmed by your saavy wit or super secret tae kwon do moves: they will kill you, in a screaming, gruesome fashion. So, like all great heroes, your options are run and hide, not necessarily in that order. You have a limited amount of stamina (again, pithy high school student) and you will exhaust yourself if you just run 24/7, and a tired student is a stabbed student. So you end up taking equal amounts of time playing hide and don’t seek me, which usually works out well (there are some clever moments). Long story short, this is more Clock Tower than Resident Evil, and it’s got a lot more exploration and puzzle solving than either of those two titles.

The dialogue of Coma is pretty verbose but entirely necessary. Catching everything people and spirits have to say will open up the truth of your situation, and you will need to dive in and out of your inventory to figure out what you need to progress further and make more sense of things. An item from the very, very beginning of the game plays a huge part in moving forward, but you won’t need it immediately, so patience is very much a thing.  Moreover, the dialogue goes beyond speaking and delves into the detailed notebook that our hero, Youngho, is keeping and updating as more items are discovered. Now, it’s not totally necessary to read every passage that’s written in the notebook, but the information there is important to unlock the true ending, which we’ll get to in a moment. Point is, this game has been translated from Korean to English and was localized in a pretty natural and even sounding way, and it’s worth the read to check it all out.

Now, despite not having flashy 3D graphics or massive, animated cutscenes, The Coma: Recut does everything it can to scare the hell out of you. The music and tone shift DRAMATICALLY when you’re about to get murdered to death, and they do a good job of lulling you into a false sense of security. The game is incredibly dark, both in tone and appearance, so it basically demands that you play it in a pitch black room in order to see everything that’s happening just off camera. The apparitions are horrifying to behold, compounded moreso because they’re supposed to resemble people from inside the school. You will wait, breath held, for what feels like forever until you think the coast is clear, and you better pray to God you’re right, because one false move is death, no take backs. You’ll have to make judgement calls on when is the right time to hide, when to run, and when you think you might be fast enough to get to the door in time. You’ll probably be wrong, but it’s worth taking the risk.

And, despite being a short game (less than five hours, start to finish), The Comat: Recut does have multiple endings, something that makes it a great vessel for replay. The decisions you make will give you some very polarizing results, so don’t feel too discouraged if you end up with the very, very worst ending: take a deep breath, bite down on something, and get ready to load up again. Getting the “true” ending is incredibly satisfying, but all are worth unlocking (I won’t say how many).

Even though Halloween is far in the rear view mirror, we can all use a good feeling of creeping, dreadful panic once in a while, and you’ll do right by The Coma: Recut. Just remember: it’s only a test.

REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Nintendo Switch code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to editor@bonusstage.co.uk.

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