Yomawari: Midnight Shadows Review
I quite enjoyed the first game but the pricing kind of put me off getting it. Not to mention it's been a great time for the PS4 over the past couple of months with so many big titles out. But then I saw the sequel Shin Yomawari: Midnight Shadows as part of the "Big In Japan" sale and picked it up.
Two best friends Yui and Haru go out together one night to watch the fireworks one last time together before they were separated as Haru is about to move away. On their trip back they get separated and the two are left to the mercy of the haunted night as they try to find each other.
For those of you who never played the predecessor, it's a whole new story so you don't have to play that first before playing this.
Yomawari is basically a survival game where you're only armed with a flashlight that lets you see demons. You basically can't defeat them most of the time and have to run away with a limited stamina gauge or hiding away in something. Only in boss "fights" you have to figure out what to do and how to interact with the environment to win.
Coins you pick up is the only way you can save via Jizo deity statues which also serve as quick travel points they are once again plentiful in this game so there's little to worry about.
Game keeps everything from its predecessor but there are some new elements to it.
This time you switch between controlling Haru who has a flashlight but then you also play as Yui too without a flashlight (uh-oh!). At some points you're expected to turn the flashlight off because it actually attracts demons which adds a little more tension to the game's atmosphere.
You can also now move objects around for some very simple puzzle solving and, you can equip Haru with "charms" that gives you some extra bonuses such as running further - they are quite creepy looking charms though... Why do I have to carry an arm around to run longer (even though it's a doll's arm)? However, I didn't find myself making use of them much either because they don't seem to make that much of a difference.
It's not all good news however as some of the scripting feel like something out of a cliche horror movie and drags out too much. Too many times you wonder what you're supposed to do to trigger the next event or if you're supposed to wait it out. Hopefully this isn't much of a spoiler but at one point the room (or screen rather) goes black and you actually had to use the touch pad to turn the torch back on to continue.
One main change I'm glad they made was they toned down the in-your-face deaths its predecessor had. You don't see sudden screens splat with blood. They are more varied and there's a short transition before the graphics appear which makes them a little more bearable whenever you find yourself making mistakes.
That said, the game still doesn't get away from trial and error and you will still die a lot from running into a dead end, sudden traps or demons killing you off. So, it's kind of like those memory games except each time you fail, you have to repeat much longer sequences. It's probably why even just bronze story trophy rates are so low because this is what puts players off.
It would be good if you could just restart a dodge-the-boss "fights" quicker rather than having to run all the way back, watch the short intro then start all over again. Too time consuming and repetitive. You can only trial and error for so much before it becomes irritating - especially for a game. If they disabled the death screens too whenever you retry a boss fight that would save a lot of time and irritation.
At first, it kind of looked like Nippon Ichi was just rehashing the first game because the town looks exactly the same but the locations you explore are new.
It's still cute little characters running away from demons that kind of resembe roughly scribbled drawings. They might not look scary but as before, the direction has done a great job using lighting and sound to still make you jump when demons do pop out of nowhere. There's no background music at all which adds to the atmosphere as you listen out to sounds that might prove a threat to you.
In the end, despite the nasty trial and error gameplay, I enjoyed the cute presentation and story of Yomawari: Midnight Shadows just like its predecessor. The main premise is the same, about how little girls learn the face the cruelties of the world although instead of siblings this time, it's two best friends. Once again, you're going to need a lot of patience to do get through the game but I think it's worth it. Hopefully Nippon Ichi doesn't make it so time consuming to retry in future Yomawari games.
- Toned down death screens.
- Still scary enough to make you jump?
- Still cute enough for you to play on to find out what happens.
- PS4 version looks like it was a poorly upscaled version of the PS Vita.
- Some poor scripting in some locations that just drag out.
- New charms don't seem to affect the gameplay that much.
- Still die a lot from trial and error... Again, probably more than 50+ times and get trophies for it.