Critical Play: Mystery

Coma was originally a single-player flash game by Atmos Games and Thomas Brush in which you play Pete, a small character wandering far and wide (in his own subconscious) looking for his sister. The mystery and narrative are intertwined via beautiful environmental storytelling, featuring in some areas gothic, ominous structures, and in other areas very organic and wild terrain. Despite the older graphics, the world is made very cohesive through art style, character, and sound design. There are messages scrawled on the walls (“wake up Pete” and “ring the dore bell”), characters with mini-missions, and puzzles that lead the player through to figure out what has actually happened to Pete’s sister. There is little direction as to how the player should interact with the world to complete puzzles, but talking to characters and walking around in the space supply the player with enough information to navigate. For one puzzle, you are given notes to a melody on the opposite side of the map to where you will play it back on a piano in the original cathedral. This has the effect of solving the mystery at your own pace, but only getting the full story if you’ve traversed the available map. However, players may have a better chance of success (the game would retain players better) if hints towards what is interactable were available since the puzzles are secondary to the narrative.  For example, you must swing on various floating fruit or light bulbs that don’t necessarily pop out of the foreground to move to the underground area. Additionally, I had a difficult time seeing a path in very dark areas. Some sort of indication would have made my playthrough less frustrating. The ambiguous ending also allows for different interpretations of the final message, which made this walking sim/mystery more personal to me.



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