STAFF REVIEW of Coma: Recut, The (Xbox One)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017.
by Adam Dileva

Coma: Recut, The Box art While I’ve never been a huge fan of the overseas school based anime and manga, The Coma: Recut aims to change that by setting the stage for this horror game inside the hallways of Sehwa High, an updated, remastered if you will, version of the Korean cult hit The Coma: Cutting Class. Updated with new cutscenes, art, and animations, The Coma: Recut aims to lure you into its darkness with an interesting story and some fantastic ambience, but fails to fully engage with its tedious gameplay.

You play as Youngho, a high school student studying at Sehwa High who’s ready to take his exams. As he arrives to school there’s a scene unfolding, as it seems a fellow student has died. That’s not enough to cancel class though, so exams must still take place, as grades are everything. You’ll quickly meet his friends and the attractive teacher, whom he has a crush on. Youngho falls asleep in class though, and when he wakes he finds himself in some sort of alternate reality where it’s dark, creepy, and he’s also locked inside with no one else nearby.

As it turns out, he’s not alone, as he runs into his teacher, but she’s different, and she tries to slash him with a box cutter, so naturally he runs and hides for his life. This is the setting to The Coma: Recut, as you need to solve the mystery of what’s happening, where you are, and most importantly, why your teacher is hunting you and trying to kill you while trying to escape. It’s an interesting story, as you need to figure out all the what’s and why’s while being chased and hunted. Unfortunately, while the story has an interesting premise, the gameplay is a little bland.

Gameplay is very basic as you walk, and run, while being chased on a 2D plane. You can move left and right along the screen, enter doorways, and interact with certain objects. You’ll need to search the area for money, as you can purchase items from the vending machines. You will also need to keep an eye out for clues, as well as blackboards, which act as save points (it is a school after all).

You have a map that can be accessed at any time, showing exactly where you are on the school’s blueprint layout. This also allows you to pinpoint where you need to head to next. Usually this entails searching for clues to the story, a key, or password to access the next area or locked door. You have a backpack that can only hold a certain amount of items and also have a flashlight that can be used to light the surrounding area nearby, though that will also make you an easier target for the killer to find you.

The setting is very dark and creepy, with minor sound effects setting the tone perfectly. You know exactly when the teacher is nearby, as the music changes, adding a heavy tension tone. When this happens you can either run or hide, as you have no way to fight back at all. Most of the time you’re going to have to run, using your precious, and slowly regenerating, stamina. If you’re lucky enough to be near certain closets or stalls, you can hide in there and wait for her to pass, but the chances of being near one was usually not the case for me. Holding the Left Trigger will allow you to crouch and hide in the darkness, covering your mouth to not be heard, but I found this rarely ever worked for me, as the teacher would slash me nearly every time I tried to hide this way. Hiding like this also drains your stamina, so it’s limited how long you’re able to do so.

The fact that you’re unable to fight back in any way is what makes the tension so high, as you are forced to run and hide, knowing she’s likely right behind you. You can purchase snacks to refill your stamina and health should you find enough coins during your adventure, but again, you can only hold a limited amount of items. You do have an ability to roll out the way if she gets close, but this too uses stamina, almost too much, and I ended up rarely using it, as all of my stamina usually went to running as far as I possibly could. Manage to get away and you’re safe, but only until the next time she nears.

Your teacher isn’t the only threat though. As you progress, you’ll also need to deal with tentacle plants and corpses that attempt to stop you as well. Given that the majority of your gameplay is done in the darkness, it’s very difficult to notice these enemies, but that’s half of the strategy; do you risk being found by the teacher by using your flashlight so you can see, or be safer in the dark but unable to notice these other monsters?

I’m pretty much a wimp when it comes to scary games. The first couple times hearing that music change, and not knowing what direction the teacher is going to chase you from, is terrifying. That being said, this happens so often throughout the course of the game that its initial shock value wears off and becomes more of a hindrance than anything else. Yes you’re going to get hurt, but you’ll manage with the proper items, and there’s enough blackboards around the school that finding a save point is usually not an issue.

Visually, the art style resembles that of an illustrated manga, unique in depiction, but also hardly animated. The story segments play out like a comic book, with dialogue boxes, yet no voice acting. The lack of voice acting really brought me out of the experience, as it could have elevated an interesting story even further. As for the sound design though, it’s very impressive and sets a very atmospheric mood that always sounds creepy and dark. When that chase music kicks in, your hands clench a little harder and you become very tense, which proves the effectiveness of the audio.

I really enjoyed the overall story element, but the constant having to run and hide became tiresome, as it usually meant having to double back and hoping to remember where that last closet was to hide in. I wish there was some way you could fight back, but unkillable threats do add a certain tension and fear factor to the gameplay. It seems the teacher’s presence is random though, as sometimes after taking a staircase, she would be nearly right on top of me, unfairly mind you.

While you can complete the game in a single sitting if you really try to rush through, finding the clues and taking your time to explore, watching the narrative unfold is the hook to The Coma: Recut. Multiple endings add some replay value if you really want to get your money’s worth and enjoy the gameplay, and while I’m not usually big on the genre, I can appreciate what it does well, even if it has some flaws.

Overall: 6.8 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 8.0 / 10


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