It’s often said that less is more when it comes to horror entertainment, and it could be argued that Bad Dream: Coma is a great example of that sentiment. The monochrome art style belies the sheer grotesque horror that can be found at moments here, and it makes such sections all the more impactful. Paired with a foreboding, creepy atmosphere and story, and we have a game that has it’s merits, though is best played in small doses as it can get a little too much at times.
The crux of the gameplay is of the point and click variety, with us moving a cursor around to find things to click on and pick up/interact with. Using a controller is never quite ideal for this style of gameplay, but to be fair it works well enough here. What does make things harder though is the presentation. The Game Boy-style green and black colour scheme looks great with the morbid, stark artwork on top, but it can make it tricky to find what can be used/picked up. More than once I got stuck on how to proceed, only to find a small object barely distinguishable from background was the key. Dragging the cursor around hoping for it to highlight something useful can get tedious in these instances, especially as there are times when previously un-highlighted items become usable as we progress through a level.
Items found are stored in a column on the left hand of the screen, and the game does throw us a bone when it comes to using them; the cursor will change to show the item we have highlighted to indicate something needs to be used here, with the wrong items crossed out. Cycling through our list will show us if we have the right item, and for the most part the solutions are fairly logical – in a twisted sort of way. Early on the going was easy enough, though I did have to resort to a guide or two later on.
So far, so point and click-y. However, what sets Bad Dream: Coma apart is the sheer morbid, graphic, psychologically oppressive imagery and atmosphere. Set in a rather horrendous dream, we navigate a world in which others are immeasurably suffering both mentally and physically. The common place settings, such as a hospital or park, are crumbling around us, while the people more often than not are found with their insides out, or limbs missing entirely. One memorable puzzle section has us ‘rebuilding’ an old man who has lost both eyes, his ears, and hair. These are found in the communal showers sink, or simply ripped from other patients who are unable to resist. Somehow this isn’t even the worst imagery, but that’s best left for you to discover. A morality system affects the ending we can get, while there are plenty of extra little interactions for inquisitive players to find, each with their own little badges collected.
The sheer morbid-ness found in Bad Dream: Coma meant even someone who usually enjoys the more macabre and gory elements in games had to take breaks regularly. It’s not just visually graphic, but mentally draining such is its depressive atmosphere. The levels are fairly short – roughly 30-45 mins – but I found that one or two was usually enough before I needed a pick me up. Be warned though; once a level is started it must be finished as there are no checkpoints and the game doesn’t support Quick Resume.
Bad Dream: Coma is morbid, depressing, and more graphic than the simple art style lets on, but that’s not to say it isn’t worth playing. Those that like point and click gameplay will be right at home here, while the dour atmosphere offers up an intriguing tone to the experience. Navigating the puzzles with a pad can get tedious at times, but for the most part this is an engaging time, and worth a look.Become a Patron!
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.