Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Review: The Coma - Recut [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Right now in the area of horror games on the Switch there’s not a lot of competition, let alone anything that is clearly a must-have for fans of thrills and chills. It is no doubt difficult to construct something that builds a sense of dread and suspense and is then able to maintain it over the course of a game somehow. Bringing a story with some mystery, a few odd characters, and some decent moments of suspense The Coma: Recut takes a swing at owning the horror crown but unfortunately comes up short.

You’ll play as Youngho, a high school student who is stressed out on the day of his finals after pulling an all-nighter. When he seemingly falls asleep while taking one of his tests he finds himself in a nightmarish version of the school with one of his teachers, Ms. Song, running madly through the hallways with a scalpel. From that point on your goal will be to unravel what is going on through searching the school, talking to the people you’ll encounter, solving some puzzles, and always keeping an ear out for someone coming for you. You have no means of defense so avoidance is the name of the game. In a pinch a dodge roll will help you evade getting cut and then some careful memorization of various places to hide on each floor is in order to help you find a safe place to sit until the threat has passed.

While this mechanic can be exciting and keep you on edge initially the more encounters you have the more somewhat random it feels so it is then just something you have to deal with more than something you can take steps to actively avoid. Without that element acting as a thin veneer to make the gameplay interesting you’ll find the game boils down to walking a lot of hallways and searching rooms for clues and supplies. There’s the element of mystery around what’s going on and who some of these characters are but without a strong connection to any of them, including the somewhat generic Youngho himself, it’s a bit of a slog in places. While a strong ending could certainly redeem the experience even the “best” of the multiple endings, depending on some key choices you’ll make, I’m not convinced carries a strong enough sense of satisfaction to absolutely make this a winner for everyone.

Despite a reasonably strong sense of style in the art and audio departments The Coma: Recut simply doesn’t do enough over its few hours of play time to clearly make it worth your time. There will, no doubt, be people who find that it delivers that little dose of adrenaline they need, and that the characters and story are just interesting enough to redeem the generally mundane exploration, but for me it mostly it bordered on being tedious. If you can become invested quickly in the characters and limited story it may keep your attention but otherwise Recut simply fails to inspire.

Score: 5

  • At first, before repetition sets in, there is a thrill to evading death
  • There is a story with a few bits of interest, just keep expectations for depth low

  • For the majority of the play time you’ll simply be searching… a lot
  • The random nature of your attackers will result in stupid deaths (save often) and, once you’re used to them, a sense of “going through the motions” until they pass
  • A dubious “payoff” to the story, even if you invest in getting the best ending