Interview With Tristan Lee Riven, Creative Director of The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters

Along with the huge AAA releases that often define the fall gaming season, there’s usually a great horror game or two to add to the fun. One such game is The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, which released on September 4 on Xbox One. The Coma 2 is an immersive story driven narrative set in Korea, home of developer Devespresso Games. To help celebrate the launch of The Coma 2, Tristan Lee Riven, COO of Devespresso Games and Creative Director of The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters, sat down with us for an interview.

Generation Xbox: The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters released September 4 on Xbox One. What would you like fans to know about the game?

Tristan: The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters is our team’s shake at delivering a true horror story in a distinctly Korean setting. It features Dark Song, an unnerving psychotic slasher that relentlessly pursues players and forces them to think on their feet to survive. This time around, we made a great effort to improve upon every aspect of the first game. It’s a very story-driven horror game, but just as accessible to new players as returning gamers familiar with The Coma: Recut.

GX: The horror genre often allows games to explore dark, psychological topics. What was the motivation behind the story in The Coma 2?

Tristan: The Coma is not only a manifestation of the darker, subconscious elements of our Mina’s mind – it is also the essence of the settings she finds herself in and the people who frequent such locations. The realm manifests from the collective unconscious of all the individuals who are connected to that place.

Human lives are often more complicated than they appear. As such, players must explore the hidden web of lies, rumors, secrets, and more that lurks beneath the surface of these relationships. In a sense, there’s something deeply Jungian we wanted to explore here. The Coma’s story is about confrontation with the concept of the Shadow and that theme carries throughout.  

GX: What can players expect to experience as they play through the game?

Tristan: At its core, this is a deeply story-driven game. When we set out to develop this game,  our mission was to channel the experience of being in an interactive slasher film. As the player progresses through the game, they’ll need to explore their environment and prepare for future encounters against a seemingly unstoppable enemy. Failing to do so will have dire consequences that are reflected in actual gameplay elements and your character’s appearance.

GX: The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters released on Steam back in January, but you’ve been working on the console version during the Covid-19 crisis. How has the pandemic changed how you develop and support a game?

Tristan: The pandemic has definitely affected a lot of people in the industry – especially with how we conduct day to day business. There’s no substitute for meeting face to face and getting stuff done. Fortunately, since we already work from home, its affect on our creative productivity has been pretty minimal!

GX: You have chosen to focus heavily on story in the game. What do you think makes for a good story in video games?

Tristan: Great question! It’s one I’m still learning the answer to. Just when I think I have the answer nailed down, I learn something new about gamer psychology from observing live play. First and foremost, game stories need to be compelling and immersive. I need to care about the characters and what’s at stake.

Harmony between delivery of the story and the gameplay itself is also essential. You don’t want something (whether it be story, clunky gameplay, or overly difficult puzzles) yanking players out of the experience. All that sounds simple enough, but it’s an extremely fine balancing act that is often difficult to pull off.

GX: What’s the biggest difference in storytelling in a video game versus in a book or movie?

Tristan: The key element is interactivity! Film and books (with the exception of Choose Your Own Adventure) are passive mediums. All you gotta do is sit back and absorb the information or watch it play out. Players interface with protagonists in a very different way when they have the reins. They’re more personally invested in what’s taking place. For example, it’s a lot easier to suffer fools on screen when we’re just watching them. Being them and being narratively forced to interact with the consequences of their decisions is a different matter entirely. The hero’s identity must be seamlessly onboarded or it’s gonna cause issues down the line.    

GX: What’s your favorite horror story of all-time and why?

Tristan: This is an impossible question! But I’ll cop out by answering with a film that I recently enjoyed called It Follows. The premise is really simple, but I think it really captures the existential dread one would experience in such circumstances quite well. Other than that, I’m a huge fan of campy horror films and it’s too difficult to choose one.

GX: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us. How can people get in touch with you on social media?

Tristan: The easiest way to connect with us is through Twitter or by joining our Discord community here!

Purchase The Coma 2: Vicious Sisters for Xbox here.

To keep up with everything coming to Xbox this fall, stay with Generation Xbox!

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