Well I guess they didn’t need my advice after all.

Ok, first things first. If you haven’t played the The Coma already, you really ought to think about doing that.

Yeah, I know, I had a lot of complaints about it, and it’s always tough to say that you absolutely have to play the original before playing the sequel. There’s just so much here, though, that’s drawn straight from the first game that you’re going to miss out on a ton of stuff if you’re not familiar with it.

Maybe it’s time to start calling in sick

This is about as direct as a direct sequel gets. It picks up right where the last one left off. Where our former hero is concerned, the figurative Coma has given way to a literal one, which made me feel a little better about the ending I got last time. So now you’re playing as another student at the same school who finds herself in a similar predicament.

When you put it that way it might not sound very creative, and it’s true that the fundamental game here hasn’t changed very much. Yet while it may look the same from a distance, you realize as you play it that this is actually a total renovation. They basically gutted the first game down to the frame and rebuilt every aspect with vastly greater attention to detail.

Here we go again

I mean, let’s just go down the list:

For one thing, they’ve really expanded the lore and cast of characters. Your mysterious helper from the first game is now joined by her whole team. They don’t turn out to be very much help, actually; but you do learn a lot more about their organization, the Coma and the cosmos in which it all takes place. On the other side of the equation, your favorite teacher also makes her return with a familiar clack-clack-clack of heels. That shouldn’t be a surprise, by the way, considering that they put her picture in the banner image.

You knew she’d be back

Adding a bunch of extra material like that isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it can be a distraction; but here it works hand-in-hand with the story and the scope grows accordingly. This time it’s not just you but the entire world that’s in danger, so instead of just trying to get the hell out of there, now you’re caught up in working to undo some kind of ancient curse. In the process you unravel all sorts of history, and they even succeed in building more characterization. It’s a nice middle-ground sort of plot, where they manage to up the ante while still retaining a personal feel.

On the gameplay side, in addition to the maze of twisty little classrooms all alike, you’ll be happy to know that you visit several more locations, including a police station, a subway, a hospital, a market–that was the best one–which really breaks up the monotony of the school. From a practical standpoint the variety also makes finding your way around a lot easier.

No pressure

A good chunk of what you’re doing still boils down to running away and hiding in cabinets so as not to get murdered, but they spice it up a little with quicktime button-press type events that you have to pull off in order to stay hidden. Well, on second thought that does seem kind of pointless and arbitrary, and if you really hate those things that may not sound like an improvement.

I’m not so good at them myself, but these weren’t too hard and on the other hand at least it gives you something to do besides sit there and twiddle your thumbs while you’re waiting for the all-clear. I guess it’s really no more immersion-breaking than a monster chasing you into a bathroom with no exits and then losing track of you and giving up.

Press arrow not to die

The assortment of items is pretty much the same, but with hotkeys available the stamina recovery juice is now actually useable. As a remedy for insta-death at the hands of your teacher, they were also nice enough to include a few cans of mace that you can use to escape. These little touches add up, and help keep things moving along much more smoothly. You can actually play the game now instead worrying more about gaming the system.

It’s definitely not

Long story short, it really is a perfect example of a sequel done right. Everything that was wrong with the first game, they fixed; and everything that was good, they made even better.

The result is not merely an improvement, but some of the best survival horror I’ve played in a long time.

Way to turn it around, game!

Developer: Devespresso Games

Publisher: Headup, WhisperGames

Purchased on: Steam

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