Ah, high school days. The loads of homework, Salisbury “steak” and canned veggies for lunch, getting shoved into lockers by bullies, and that curvy teacher you’ve got a secret crush on transforming into a hideous axe-wielding demon-thing who will try really hard to chop you to pieces after hours…
Okay, that last bit is why you’ll be way up too late on a school (or work) night and all bleary-eyed and freaked out in the morning if you’re playing The Coma: Recut. This remastered version of the Korean survival-horror cult classic, The Coma: Cutting Class manages to be pretty scary stuff from developer Devespresso Games and publisher Digerati. If you’re a fan of games such as Clock Tower (both the Super Famicom original and its first sequel on the original PlayStation), this one’s well worth snapping up.
In the game, you’re Youngho, a student of Sehwa High rushing to take his final exams. As he reaches his school he sees an ambulance taking someone away and hears gossip about how there may have been a student suicide (eek), but hey, it’s finals and that test HAS to be taken, right? Our hapless hero also finds a pendant on the ground belonging to his teacher, Ms. Song, with whom he and much of the rest of the guys in the school have the hots for. All that late night studying hits Youngho hard as the poor guy falls asleep during his test and somehow wakes up at his desk at night completely perplexed at his bad luck. That is, until he finds out he’s about to have the worst night of his life.
The halls are dark, Ms. Song is a crazed, axe wielding thing coming after him and all Youngho can do is run and hide for his life. Well, he’s also got a dodge move handy for close encounters (which makes you hope he was really good at dodgeball in junior high). This isn’t a Resident Evil style “survival” horror game at all. It’s more an adventure game with scary moments that work well despite some repetitious segments. Younhgo only has a flashlight (which can get him spotted if used at the wrong times) and a backpack he’ll store stuff he finds in.
When you’re not playing hide ‘n seek with Ms. Song and her swingin’ axe, you’ll stumble into a familiar face or three trying to figure out what the heck is happening. Clues abound in other areas in the school and a few simple to moderately tricky puzzles are here to solve in order to progress. In other words, your brain needs to be on the ball constantly or you’ll get Youngho behind the 8-ball. Of note is his stamina bar which drops while he’s running, which makes most chases tense going until you realize the bar refills quickly enough that you can sprint in spurts. That said, when the game requires you to hide and wait for danger to pass, the fear factor rises significantly because it’s a dice roll as to what’s waiting for you when you leave cover.
The comic book art style works quite well, although Youngho’s running animation is a bit too goofy for my tastes. Play this with a decent pair of headphones on and you’ll probably jump a bit too much. I took mine off after about half an hour just so I could concentrate on the not dying as I tend to do when a game makes me jump right into the swingin’ axe of a freaky teacher gone wild. A bit of curiosity hit me on the head about this being a “remaster” of a game about two years old and a quick peek at a post on the original game’s Steam page revealed Devespresso wasn’t 100% happy with the original and the Recut version has numerous tweaks and fixes. So there you go. Although if you’re like me and you’ve never played the first version, this Coma will indeed be your first cut.
Overall, The Coma: Recut makes for a solid and often scary horror adventure that works whether you recall your horrible high school days or not. Hey, if anything, if you’re at that age where this game is somehow relevant to your own schooling situation, you can always show it to your parents as a means of letting them keep you out of school until those not so sexy demon teachers are all taken care of. Then again, they’ll very likely take your PS4 away for pulling that stunt, so forget what I just said. Er, Be cool- stay in school, kids. Yeah, that’s all I got at this hour, sorry.
Score: B+ 85%
Review code provided by the publisher