Once Upon a Coma is an artistic indie platformer in which you play as a boy who has to tackle an unfriendly world populated by dark, antagonistic forces. No I didn’t say Limbo, I said Once Upon a Coma, and while the game certainly shares many similarities with the 2010 indie hit it diverges enough to become its own entity.
You play as Peter, a young boy who has woken from a coma to discover that all the adults in his small hometown unanimously decided to abandon their kids and leave town. The reason for this is a mystery, though I’m banking on the idea that they got sick of the little shits and are currently drinking tequila on a beautiful Caribbean beach. Peter soon finds out from some other the other children that his sister is missing too, having gone into the woods to find out where the adults went and has not returned for a few weeks. Peter, armed with his dad’s razor and accompanied by a talking bird, must go and try to find out what happened to her.
The game is incredibly beautiful, with gorgeous visuals that really keep you engaged. Part of what I enjoyed is that unlike Limbo, where the whole game looks like a surreal nightmare, Once Upon a Coma has a bright colour palette for the outside world but is populated by some very dark images, and this contrast just makes it all the more unsettling. One minute you are looking at the rolling green hills outside and the next reading a code hastily scrawled onto a dilapidated toilet wall. The sound design is also brilliant, with the music and atmospheric sounds really helping you to get immersed into the world.
Part of what I enjoyed about the game was the other characters, who are all… off in some way. The other kids refuse to accept that Peter has been in a coma, insisting that he just slept in for the entire Summer, and do not seem to think that the disappearance of the adults is anything to worry about. This is compounded by many of the children having serious problems, as one child needs his insulin injections and many others seem to be suffering from mental illnesses. It reminds me of Silent Hill 2, where all the other characters in the town were both unstable and completely unphased by the weird world around them, treating the protagonist like they are the irrational one.
Gameplay is a bit sparse. There are a couple of puzzles in the demo, which are both incredible simple to complete. Of course, the demo is from the beginning of the game, so hopefully the difficulty of these will increase a lot as the player progresses. There is also an element of combat, in which you can use the aforementioned knife to kill some overly large spiders. There really isn’t much to say about the combat, other than that it is basic and functional. While the gameplay is not the greatest or most revolutionary thing you will ever see, it’s not really the point of the experience. The atmosphere and design of Once Upon a Coma are what really makes the game, and I am very excited to see more.
You can download the demo for the game here, and I really do recommend that you check this one out. You won’t regret it.
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