The love for feudal Japan and for the cinema of masters like Kurosawa come together in Trek to Yomi, a new little imperfect gem published by Devolver Digital.
The Trek to Yomi project was able, from the moment of the announcement, to draw attention to itself. The pairing of feudal Japan and Devolver Digital has been enough for many to keep the antennas in the air and we are now at the moment of the final judgment. We played (and replayed) this little gem to be able to tell you the best of it in this one Trek to Yomi review. Despite some evident and inevitable production limits, Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hog they managed to show their passion and attention for a culture that is as particular as it is fascinating.
Walking around the Yomi
Trek to Yomi makes the narrative component its greatest pride, not so much for the complexity of a plot that is quite simple and banal, but for its ability to respect and honor the stories from which it takes shape and inspiration. Just a few days ago we had the opportunity to have a virtual chat with the game designer. We advise you to go and retrieve the interview dedicated to Leonard Menchiari, certainly important for understanding some dynamics in the development process.
In short, the story puts us in the shoes of a man, raised and trained by his mentor who, out of the blue, finds himself having to put his youth aside to face the invaders of his own people. The brigands in fact are making shreds of the peaceful inhabitants of some villages. Everything goes for the worse and the protagonist finds himself deadtrapped in this nature of eternal damned destined to delve into his personal and sentimental ghosts, so as to finally understand what has happened to his people and his alleged beloved.
Classicone, as already said, with the will to recover from the big one tradition of Japanese cinema of the 1950s and 1960s. It is in fact here that all the aesthetics are based and also to a large extent the choices that will lead to clear and marked gameplay dynamics. Everything about Trek to Yomi’s journey focuses on the hero, on his journey and on his responsibilities, without forgetting the choices, which can change the whole vision of the story.
The four or five hours needed to finish the game turn out to be the right ones, without going to exaggerate and dilute the experience more than necessary. However, it is precisely in the aforementioned choices that a first particular short-circuit of Trek to Yomi is generated. The choice to include multiple endings and important personal choices should consequently generate the will to try to understand how it could have gone. The “What If” effect in Trek to Yomi, on the other hand, is not very effective.
Also thanks to theinability to replay individual chapters, but forced to start from the beginning every time. To be honest, during our interview, it was revealed to us that the choices are there precisely to allow us to direct our journey towards the path we prefer. All this without necessarily inducing the player to relive all the different possibilities. Although it is possible to understand the intention, there is no doubt that more could be done to better manage this crucial aspect.
Clash of honor
Trek to Yomi is undoubtedly a work that tries to overcome the barriers of its productive value. While aware and intelligent in avoiding overdoing it, Menchiari’s game is also damn inspired. Trying to better frame the experience, it could be said that Trek to Yomi is a scrolling action adventurewhich mixes three-dimensional backdrops with a hybrid progression.
The combat phases alternate with others of pure exploration, all without interruption. When fighting, the camera becomes fixed, the perspective is feigned and the movement becomes purely horizontal. On the other hand, when you sheath your katana, the environments become freely explorable and this generates both variety and estrangement
They think about pushing even more on this aspect the collectibles. Very beautiful in the realization and in the texts that accompany them, capable of deepening the Japanese culture and mythology, they often require to be recovered in alternative ways which, however, are not always easy to identify. This is not a problem in itself, but when you choose a road that would seem to all intents and purposes the right way to continue and you find yourself stuck a few meters ahead without being able to go back then you turn up your nose, for obvious reasons. And this is where the schizophrenia generated byinability to relive the individual chaptersespecially considering the division of collectibles into pages dedicated to the various portions of the adventure.
Of course Trek to Yomi is also combat, not only to the sword, and it is here that he tries to show his cards. The whole game is based on the idea of a one-on-one (or almost) battle. When opponents meet, they position themselves in front of us or behind us, setting in motion a dance that loudly recalls fencing and its “two-dimensional” development. Even when the opponents show up in a group, the game tends to keep them in the background, almost as if they were spectators, waiting for one of the two positions to be empty again after the death of one of the enemies.
Parry and counterattack: a technique that in Trek to Yoki takes on a double value, also given the presence of a stamina and the speed with which it is possible to capitulate. The team’s desire to make the clashes brutal and fast can also be found in the variants of opponents that it is possible to meet. At least until you get to the final stages, when alongside the simple brigands who move within a couple of blows, more resistant and aggressive versions or real elements from the afterlife are added.
Attempting to generate a sense of depth, albeit without really succeeding to the end, they think about it skills and unlocking some new combos, which can be recovered in the form of parchments. Whether it’s the katana, the bow or some sort of arquebus, everything in Trek to Yoki remains at the continuous service of the narration and the staging, sacrificing the playful part here and there in order to give value to the journey. All lawful even if plagued by some small command response problemswhich at times left us helpless, but which we hope can be solved with some patches.
I bosses, the only enemies with their own health bar and which are also present in a good number, without however representing a real threat. Just wanting to be picky, we didn’t understand why to insert an additional difficulty that allows you to kill and be killed in a single shot, but leaving the bosses out of this dynamic, almost completely losing the balance of the experience.
Technique and style
Trek to Yomi is an independent product and as such attempts, successfully in our opinion, to overcome the technical limitations with research and delicious stylistic code. Forget large polygonal models or triple A motion capture, but the fact remains that the Flying Wild Hog’s work is an expressive gem. The architecture, the backdrops, the attention to detail and the soundtrack burst with passion from every pore, amusing the palate of Japanese culture enthusiasts.
Unfortunately the same cannot be said for what concerns the care in the texts and dialogues, which although they also follow the stylistic features of the genre, fail to really leave their mark. This is where the whole reality of Trek to Yomi is played out, for better or for worse. What works always goes hand in hand with some less successful and inspired element, ultimately generating a minimum of regret for a small rough gem that fails to turn into a diamond.
- A simple story, but well presented
- The passion for Japan is alive and vibrant
- It lasts the right
- It is an experience for its own sake
- The level design generates some confusion too
- The combat system is deep, but not very effective in the long run
We wish to give thanks to the writer of this short article for this outstanding web content
Trek to Yomi, the review of the latest little gem published by Devolver Digital
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