Monday, September 18, 2017

The Coma: Recut (PS4)

I hate comparing games to past releases, but something struck me as being very familiar in Devespresso Games' Korean survival-horror game, "The Coma: Recut". There is unmistakable similarities between this game, and Well Bred Rhino's story driven creations such as that of, "All the Bad Parts". I'm not implying that it's copycat material, but more so that the gameplay structure is very much like said games. You have basic 2D platforming stages spread across multiple floors and rooms, and must make your way through each of the areas as an animated cartoon cutout of the protagonist upon given story cues to unlock previously locked areas until you can complete the game's outlined plot. Not only that, but you'll be searching environmental objects for useful items as well as picking up left behind clues, and even buying supplies from school vending machines using coins (won) that are hidden throughout the multiple areas of the designated location. As far as further similarities go you have a protagonist in a school who awakens to a mysterious world inhabited by alien creatures. In this case those alien creatures turn out to be ghastly shades who rule an alternative reality built upon negative energy. That realm being known as, "The Coma". In this story the protagonist Youngho encounters Sehwa High's dark past through a sleep induced traversal. One caused by studying late into the night for the next day's exam. In the topsy-turvy world he awakens to he finds possessed students, suicide victims, a pursuing malevolent version of his teacher, and a twisted plot involving a student named, Seho. The jump scares are plentiful, and the chasing spirit that haunts you on your way out a neverending threat.

As Youngho you'll have to tread carefully with your trusty flashlight, backpack, map, and notebook as you try to figure out what the hell is going on. You will encounter friends, bullies, ghosts, shades, and the evil box cutter wielding teacher as you inspect textual postings for clues, and stock up on helpful supplies between the floor by floor, and wing by wing navigation. Your tools, being that of the flashlight, backpack, notebook, and map are made available via assigned buttons. The DPad will have you accessing the current objective via a pressing of "LEFT", the backpack which houses up to six items at a time via "DOWN", the notebook which houses gathered notes with "UP", and the map which shows a floor plan layout of each of Sehwa's buildings via "RIGHT". For movement, and menu selection you'll use the "LEFT THUMBSTICK", and that along with "L2" will help you run. The flashlight is brought up via a pressing of "R1", and your dodge roll via "R2". All useful tools in surviving the horror stricken Coma environments.

While the mechanics are simple your main problems will stem from your five heart health bar, and your stamina gauge which runs out when you run to long. To counter the depletion of health, and stamina you'll find food, and drink items that can also be purchased from vending with the coins you gather. These single use items will do things such as heal varying amounts of health, cure poison infliction, stop bleeding, and even effect the stamina meter through quick refills and progression slowing and speeding up.The way you'll lose health, and stamina are attributed mostly to Sehwa's haunts. The teacher who chases you with a box knife as you enter certain hallways, or rooms can inflict bleeding health damage with her attacks. You can find safety though "The Evil Within" style by hiding in lockers, cabinets, and even bathroom stalls supposing you have a good enough lead. Other haunts in the form of ghostly victims can fall on you, or even attack you from the floor with similar damage infliction. The more alien type of creatures that are akin to the Cthulhu lore will poison you causing a damage over time effect if you do not apply an antidote. As far as attacks from the pursuing teacher, and ghosts goes you can cure the bleeding effect with bandages, and refill the health hearts with food items.

Committing to your playthrough will be a fairly linear journey according to the designated plot points, but can be sidetracked slightly with early investigative searches of nearby rooms. There's plenty to loot, and you will be prompted by a symbol when standing in front of something that can be searched. Searching is done by pressing, and holding the "X" button until the onscreen ring fills up. The "X" button also activates things, allows you to enter new areas, and forwards character dialogue as well as pop-up text. In some cases during your searching you'll find usable items  while other times you'll find notes, and information that brings light to the school's morbid history. Navigation through the hallways in the West, North, and Main wing of the school building will usually end with a dual stairwell that includes up, and down options. Sometimes only one option or the other will be made available as the game tries it's best to keep you on track with what is currently going on. Storytelling prompts along the way are mainly brought on by character encounters, and comic book style cutscenes that occur when you reach a certain spot in relation to a character or object.

Replay value in this game comes in the form of collecting all the notes, and unlocking all of the in-game art which can be accessed via a main menu option. There's also PSN trophies to unlock under certain conditions. Some of which are more hidden than others.

When it comes to the presentation, "The Coma: Recut" lives up to it's survival-horror roots. You'll find hints of games like "The Evil Within", and to some extent "Resident Evil". The latter being related to the inclusion of limited supplies, puzzles, and chalkboard save points while the former is reflected through the hiding mechanics that involve lockers, bathroom stalls, and cabinets. The soundtrack that compliments the haunting environments laden with darkness and spooks is very thematic, and sets the mood for each occasion appropriately. You'll find silent moments before jump scares, panicky tunes as the game's chasing ghoul runs you from room to room, and eerie low instrumentals that accent the more foreboding settings. The special effects in the form of vapors, and flashing lights, and area distortion make the adventure all the more harrowing.

The verdict ...

Though I find this oddly similar to one of my favorite developer's works I have to say Devexpresso did a fantastic job with this game. It is a unique story of the Asian horror vein that kind of mimics American highschool life, but with Korean names thrown into the mix. Do be warned that some of the suicide elements can be a bit grim, especially the hangings. Anyone with heart troubles might also want to pass this one up due to jump scares, and the intensity portrayed within the haunted environments. It's definitely not a children's game. I personally didn't find it too frightening though, but it was interesting enough to get my vote as a game worth buying. If you like platformers with an Asian survival-horror flair you might find this game worth adding to your collection!

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