Originally released on PC a couple years ago, Bad Dream: Coma is a grotesque point-and-click horror adventure title with a gimmick built around player choice. The monochrome art style plays to the strengths of the presentation although some puzzles are a bit obscure.
Controlling a cursor with the analog stick, the player is tasked with clicking on things in the environment. Sometimes items can be collected, sometimes they can be used, and sometimes things happen when clicked. The morbid line-drawn art style, although done with a certain level of care, doesn’t do the player any favors when it comes to guidance. Expect to get lost more often than not because there are plenty of times the game wants you to click on something very small. In fact, the very first puzzle does this, tasking the player click on a battery hidden in the foreground. The lack of a hint system or visual indicator on interactive elements winds up becomes a lesson in tedium, forcing players to click on every square inch of the screen. At least the game highlights a corresponding item from the menu icons on the left side of the screen when they can be used.
The experience takes place in a dream so expect to see somewhat familiar set pieces but with a macabre coat of paint. A creepy doll might hold a key item but needs its head bashed in, silencing its cries. If you solve one puzzle, the game might require you backtrack even though there was no prior indication to do so. See those crows in the background, yeah, you can click on them to watch them exploded in a cloud of blood but then the player will receive negative points, which can result in a different final outcome. This morality system encourages multiply play-throughs but is there as a way for players to experiment with items and interactive things in the background.
Besides having obscure puzzles, the biggest problem comes from the save system, or more specifically, the lack there of. For example, I got frustrated when I couldn’t figure out how to move beyond a “spot the difference” puzzle (I am pretty sure my game glitched as I clicked on everything multiple times and couldn’t get out of this screen) and turned the game off, assuming my progress was saved until that point. When I booted it back up, I was forced to replay everything to that point again. First time players could easily get stuck for an hour or more, like I did, and want to return later. It sucks having to lose all this time if you turn off the game.
Bad Dream: Coma has some bright spots for being such a dreary game but it lack of general housekeeping feature makes this an adventure title that only dedicated fans of the genre will enjoy. Even with its flaws, it is still more entertaining than most visual novels.
Also available on Switch and PC.
Not As Good As: your favorite SCUMM game
Better Than: having nightmares while stuck in a coma
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