Indie Spotlight: Once Upon a Coma

From the brilliant mind of Thomas Brush comes another charming playable art exhibition, Once Upon a Coma. He is also known for the game Pinstripe and Skinny. It’s rare nowadays to see a really well done 2-D side-scrolling adventure game and that’s exactly what this is. “ My dream is to not only take inspiration from the Zelda franchise, but to also translate that into the classic side-scroller 2D space”. The demo is available on Game Jolt if you feel so inclined to check out the masterpiece yourself. Much like his last name, even the demo mesmerizes the player with beautifully done brush strokes of both song and environment.

Having recently played the demo, I can’t wait for the rest of the game. It was short enough to introduce me to the theme and story while also leaving me wanting more. You play as young Pete who wakes up from a coma to find his world has completely changed. To unravel the mystery, you traverse the landscape in search of your missing sister using a razor to defend yourself. Killer adults, spiders, and other creatures are what make the trek so perilous. Danger lurks around each corner but you’ll have some allies on your quest as well as a tiny bird who follows you around. Sound familiar? HEY. LISTEN.

By far the most attractive part of the game, in my opinion, is the art style and music. The music sets a certain atmosphere and immerses the player within the world itself. It takes your emotions on a roller-coaster of nostalgia, happiness, and sadness. “A piano-centric, beautiful soundtrack inspired by Debussy and Chopin”. The inspiration from Debussy being the Clair de Lune and other numbers like it. Below is a link to my favorite whimsical track that I wish was longer.

A lush color palette sets the tone for each screen you walk across. Darkness where it should be dark and light where it should be light. It all comes together to make one cohesive image that doesn’t distract much from playing the game. I highly advise pausing every once in a while to take in the environment around you as there is much detail put into the surroundings. The inspiration for this art style came from Eyvind Earle who worked with Disney in animation and background illustrations in the 50’s.

The games aesthetic certainly speaks to the child in all of us but the theme suggest a darker motive for the grown up…slightly older child in us. Using your razor to “hack and slash” enemies makes for a gruesome journey ahead. To balance the dynamic between charming and dark, witty banter between Pete and other characters of the world occurs frequently giving much needed comedic breaks. “Engage in hilarious dialogue trees reminiscent of Night in the Woods and Undertale”. Games like these are becoming increasingly popular among Indie developers but as mentioned before, they’re a challenge to do well.

A full build of the game is slated to release in Fall 2018 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. My hope is that, like Pinstripe, it will be brought to consoles so that I can indulge in the ye old tradition of achievement hunting. I’m incredibly excited to see how much more Once Upon a Coma has to offer. If you’d like to follow its journey, I will link the kick-starter below. You can also pre-order the game as well. I hope you enjoyed this edition of Indie Spotlight! Let me know if there’s a certain indie developer/game you’d like covered and I’ll look into it. Until next time!