The last person to call me a brave boy was probably my mother when I didn’t cry after getting an owie. Granted this probably wasn’t all that long ago, but the statement doesn’t lose any value! Knowing this it shouldn’t shock anybody when I say I am quite easily frightened. I do, however, enjoy being frightened. I just scream and cry with enjoyment, like a normal human.
The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters , let’s call it TC2 from now on, is a Korean survival horror-adventure. It is a sequel to Devespresso Games‘ 2015 The Coma: Cutting Class, and its 2017 updated edition. I hope you have ear plugs, because I’m about to shriek The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters review at you.
Mina Park is a student of Sehwa High who passes out at school after walking into the storage closet, only to wake up in a nightmare world called “The Coma.” Some creature resembling a less hot version of her teacher, Ms. Song, soon chases after her to make with the stabbing. This is all at the behest of what we will learn is called the “Vicious Sister.” Mina is forced to traverse the city in order to escape, and possibly put a stop to whatever the Vicious Sister is up to.
We’re given a brief description of everything you need from the first game in our first cut scene. You play Mina, Mina is friends with Youngho who is in a coma, and he’s the protagonist from the first game. Makes sense? Awesome. Moving on.
I like this approach. It gives me just enough information without dragging me through a story I’ve possibly heard or seen before. I can pick up this game standalone and not miss out on too much. This makes way for us to learn about why we’re in this world, and meet allies and enemies alike as the game progresses.
The allies I speak of are called Ghost Vigilantes who, along with notes of lore scattered throughout the game, are the main source of information in TC2. Mina is unraveling the plot at the same time as we are, and the game is spent learning why we’re here and what Vicious Sister has planned. Mina quickly learns that she is next to powerless in this world, so she must rely on ingenuity and stealth to survive. This gives the story substance without sucking the life out of the horror via endless exposition.
The main progression of the game comes from being in one place in a map and finding out you don’t have a necessary item. You’re given a quest marker on your map, or a context clue to its location. This kind of back-and-forth trekking usually gives way to monotony, but the constant need to look for items helps here. Likewise, each area has one or two side quests available to give you an extra edge. Add on the constant fear of death and there is plenty of tension to go around.
One such side quest had me locate parts in order to build a taser. Upon completion I thought, “Awesome, I get a free pass if a baddie catches me now.” Only in a later cut scene when the big bad caught me and I used it in scene did I realize how important these optional quests may be. I was instantly driven to make sure I completed all others moving forward.
The main component of fear in the game, which is why we’re all here, comes from the constant fear that entering any new area could have the main villain roaming the halls. Think Alien: Isolation. When’s that Xenomorph going to show up and use his extendo-mouth to give us a makeshift third eye? Your only equipment is a lighter, some snacks, and some mace. Basically, you’re powerless, so run/hide your face off before it’s torn off.
Exploration is necessary because Ms. Song and her band of baddie butchers aren’t the only threat you face. Claws from below or above, poisonous plants, and a roaming monsters can all chip away at your life. You can avoid them pretty easily if you’re paying attention, and items are found all over to recover with. Alas, when running for your life it’s pretty easy to miss a creepy teen hiding under a desk.
While heading from area to area, TC2 tempted me into searching each room along the way. Notes litter each map with additional lore that show the possibility that maybe the innocent friend isn’t so innocent. I enjoy this both because I’m a curious little human by nature, and it was a reprieve from the constant discomfort.
The game has no combat per se, but offers minor action elements to keep them reflexes up. You don’t want a spooky walking simulator, do you? Matches can be used to burn certain sedentary ghosts and unlock loot. The spacebar helps avoid harrowing environments at the expense of stamina. Quick time events require you to keep your composure when hiding during a chase. That last one gave me away to the killer more than once. TC2 strikes a good balance here between giving us enough power to feel necessary and keeping us meek enough that we’re still always afraid.
Hot dang does this art style work well for this game. The shading of the hand drawn art portrays the bleakness of the atmosphere even during the lighter moments. The lines are crisp, the colors are bright when they need to be and dull the rest of the time.
All of the illustrations are hand drawn, and add so much to the ambiance of the game. The flashlight emits just enough of an aura for you to feel safe. Right up until you realize you’re not. Spooky creatures lurk in the shadows in a way that you can definitely miss if you aren’t looking for them. The amount of times my roommate has knocked on my door to ask if I’m okay when I didn’t expect a ceiling claw to attack me. Oof.
There is also a Lovecraftian feel to the backgrounds. Tentacles, gore, indescribable amalgamations that probably used to resemble people. All of these add a sense of the unknown, and at the end of the day that is what people fear the most.
Okay, yes. I know I have been blowing the proverbial smoke up this game’s behind so far, but I truly think the audio is TC2’s pièce de résistance. Everything from the quality of audio to the soundtrack had the hairs raising on my neck at some point.
The first steps you take in the game are in some kind of muck that immediately give a “squelch” sound. I instantly said, “Nope, don’t like that.” and that feeling really never left the whole experience. After being chased once by Dark Song I came to recognize the sounds of her footsteps. Upon hearing them when entering a hall panic would fill my body and I’d immediately look for a hiding spot. Sitting under a desk all I could do is listen as the footsteps got closer or further, and hope for the best. There were also cat sounds. Every now and again a cat would meow and I would shout, “KITTY!” in hopes for some brevity. I only saw a cat once. I named them Professor Boop.
The music in The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters was the next piece in adding to the atmosphere of the game. I’m saying atmosphere a lot, aren’t I? Atmosphere. IT’S IMPORTANT! So many times the music for an area would consist of simple single notes that made you feel an emptiness deserving of the situation. In the school a broken down version of last bell played along with the tones. At the train station loud speaker notifications would fast forward and slow down in multiple languages alerting you that nothing is going right in the world.
The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is a refreshing piece of horror in a jump scare filled void. Yes, jump scares were involved and, yes, there were repeating themes withing the game. Luckily, anything repeated was quick lived, and the jump scares were just there to supplement an already instilled fear. The art and the music gave way to an atmosphere that had me constantly uncomfortable, but in a good way.
At points early in the game when dialogue between teens happened words like “totes” and “like” got tossed around so often I wasn’t sure if an undercover cop was about to ask me if I had drugs. Once the game got into full swing that was swept away and the only dialogue was meaningful or well thought out. I felt a sense of unease the entire time, yet am looking forward to playing again to collect everything I’ve missed.
Any screenshots from the game are from the Steam version of The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters. For more reviews and gaming news you can keep up to date at Informed Pixel. Want to speak to the team and interact with other gamers? You can do so over on the Informed Pixel Facebook page or on the Informed Pixel Twitter account. You can also interact with me and tell me I’m a butt on my Twitter.