The Coma 2
PS4 version tested
Review code provided
The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is a fusion of visual novel and third-person adventure game that tells the story of schoolgirl Mina. If you’re not familiar with the first game, that’s ok as you don’t need to have played it, as this sequel fills you in.
In the previous game, Mina’s friend fell into a coma, and after a relatively brief introduction into Mina’s world, you too enter that coma – a hellish world parallel to our own that tunes into your fears and ups the volume just that little bit to make you jump.
The pace of the game is ok. At the start of the game, we follow the protagonist through a series of static images, slightly animated with English subtitles for the Korean dialogue as she heads into school. This serves as a mild tutorial to inform you of your surroundings – such as the indispensable vending machines that reward you with rations, weapons and survival gear, pending you have the money (you can find coins along the way, though they are as limited as the bullets in a Resident Evil game).
For the interactive part of the game, you play Mina in a third-person side-scrolling perspective as she heads into various rooms over numerous levels. Movement is with the left stick, and holding R2 allows her to sprint, though it does consume some of your stamina. Stamina is unlimited, however, and will just refill upon stopping. The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is a relatively straightforward game, but occasionally you can lose sight of your objective, but it’s always available by pressing R1. Most of the time it’s understandable, but you’ll rarely use it. Your hotkey will be up on the d-pad to bring up the map – this is essential to the game as it states your location and where you’re aiming for, but you don’t always start with a map and have to earn it.
When you meet new characters, the game switches to a visual novel style, and the artwork is brilliant. Each character is slightly animated with the dialogue at the foot of the screen. It’s not entirely cliche, and in a lot of cases, the conversations can be quite funny, but this is a teen story, so sometimes the wording seems a little bit corny for old bearded types. On occasion you will get the chance to select a line or two in the conversation – it doesn’t change things up much, but it’s nice that you aren’t forever reading and pressing X after each speech bubble.
For a brief period, it feels like you’re playing a Persona game, and you have all the time in the world until the story takes a turn, and you enter the coma. That’s not a spoiler – it’s the point of the game! Mina’s world is soon turned into a nightmarish multiverse of nasties intent on harming you, and some of the people from your school appear to have a few hidden agendas that you’re unfortunate enough to be a victim of. Without giving too much away (you can see in the promotional screenshots), you get chased down by a demon-like character who will take you out pretty darn quick if you aren’t fast enough. Options include retaliating and responding to several key presses to escape, or simply hiding away under a desk, locker or cubicle and hope you aren’t found.
While the game is cartoon-like – an anime approach if you will, and doesn’t seem particularly scary, the scenes where you’re being pursued is pretty nerve-wracking, and you start creating yourselves escape routes just in case. These routes never come into effect, so you let your guard down then blaaam! You’re dead! It goes to show that some of these visual novels really do pack a punch when needs be and though some areas are slow-burners, there’s that ever-present threat of ‘what if’ something comes out of the shadows?
If you’re familiar with manga or seen your fair share of anime on Netflix, The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is quite a standard story or the occult and creepy high school students. It doesn’t break new ground, but it keeps you interested in the story as it develops. The visual novel elements are almost like a cutscene reward as you advance through the game. Still, it won’t be at a pace you might be used to with most visual novels as once you have someone on your tail, it can be quite tricky to progress without stopping and starting: these things don’t wait for you if you bring up your map or start scrolling through your inventory – before you know it, they’ve killed you. It’s anxiety-inducing stuff – in a good way? Gaming-wise, of course.
There are a couple of extras included, such as a gallery where you are rewarded with some of the cool art as you progress through the game. You can either zoom into for the finer detail or set as your background (in the game of course, not your PS4 UI). DLC content is also available, where you can purchase different skins for Mina. I didn’t do that. It felt a bit weird going through a series of girls’ uniforms, and changing clothes (other than underwear) wasn’t likely to make me feel any more secure knowing that there was something out there running me down with a knife at any given opportunity.
Don’t be put off in thinking this is solely aimed at fans of the visual novel. While the storytelling is via this method, the bulk of the game is a side-scrolling survival game where you make the most of your limited resources and ensure you know all the hiding places in an area. This isn’t a game you’ll complete in a sitting, and what with all the dangers in the game, you’ll be taking your time each time you walk through a doorway.
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo
Release Date: 19/06/2020
No. of Players: 1
Category: Horror, Adventure
Developer: Devespresso Games
Publisher: Headup Games
Download link: PSN