Trek to Yomi has a lot to recommend it to fans of vintage samurai films. It’s a katana-swiping side-scroller with a compelling tale that brilliantly captures the essence of classic Japanese film in video game form. However, although the game’s aesthetics never failed to wow me, the things you’re really doing in that lovely environment are less so, with unnecessarily basic combat and exploration that barely scratches the surface.
Nonetheless, Trek to Yomi’s aesthetic presentation compensates for many of the game’s flaws, resulting in a compelling samurai narrative that I’m pleased I experienced.
Trek to Yomi Review
Trek to Yomi’s devotion to black and white samurai films from the twentieth century is evident in every aspect of the game, from the boot-up logos and main menu to the closing credits.
Everything from the artificial sparkle dotting the screen, which makes it appear as if it’s playing from an old film reel, to the pacing and line delivery during cutscenes, to the references to historically accurate traditions and religious practises that play a central role in the story, is included.
It’s difficult to express how wonderful it is to walk around in such a carefully detailed copy of a film style I’ve long admired, and that cinematic magic is without a doubt the finest thing Trek to Yomi has to offer.
The plot revolves around a stoic protagonist who must choose between his job and his own wants, with a horrible childhood slaughter serving as the opening chapter. To be sure, it’s a cliche, and if you’ve seen practically any old samurai film, you’ll recognise a lot of the events from a mile away.
With all of the various ways Trek to Yomi pays respect to the masterpieces that inspired it, an overly traditional tale doesn’t seem so horrible. This familiar narrative was like going into a warm bath filled with my favourite, samurai-scented candles, and it was like stepping into a warm bath filled with my favourite, samurai-scented candles.
It’s not without its own twists and turns, and it did something unexpected on at least one occasion – moments that went a long way toward redeeming the generally predictable storyline. Combat is never awful; it is simply overly simple.
You’ll spend the most of your game ronining around and chopping your way through magnificent backdrops with a fighting system that, despite its simplicity, is rewarding. There are light assaults, heavy attacks, a parry, and a few ranged weapons thrown in for good measure, but Trek to Yomi only goes so far.
You’ll sometimes acquire a new attack combo or encounter a new enemy type that forces you to alter your tactics somewhat, but after less than an hour, I had mastered the majority of the skills I required to easily dispatch hordes of bandits and phantom samurai.
This was especially true once I earned the ability to quickly stun adversaries and kill them off with a bloody animation that also heals you, which you can use to get out of practically every fight in the campaign.
Combat isn’t always horrible; it’s just that it’s overly simple and doesn’t grow enough as you go to keep things interesting. It’s also quite similar to many other 2D action games, with no real hook or unique notion to distinguish it from what I’ve seen before.
Most of the time, I was just taking in the amazing sights and noises while blasting through every adversary in my path (even on the hardest difficulty, mind you). It’s a good thing the journey is just six hours long because combat becomes old in less than half that time, so it didn’t have a chance to overstay its welcome in a frustrating way.
However, boss fights are an exception to the easy fighting, since they generally feature an adversary who cannot be beheaded in a single hit. These spongey champions must be researched in order to build a plan for surviving and carefully countering their assaults.
Because they’re one of the only elements that required me to vary up my methods, bosses accounted for the great bulk of my deaths during my playthroughs. It was a delight finding out how to defeat these evil warriors, even while I was getting smacked around hopelessly, but they’re so few and far between that it simply made me want more of the battle posed a comparable difficulty.
Trek to Yomi also includes some minor exploring and, on sometimes, a side quest or puzzle, albeit it’s all quite superficial. Exploration generally consists of a few samey extra chambers with a hidden collectable or an additional path to reach wherever you’re going occasionally, you’ll even be able to escape battle entirely by triggering a nice environmental kill, such as throwing logs on some fools like a vengeful Ewok.
It’s simply a shame these concepts weren’t pursued further, because everything is now quite simple, and possibilities for environmental killings nearly never arise.
Similarly, side missions are generally just an extra area where you can fight a few more enemies and pick up some cheap treasure from a thankful survivor, but puzzles are usually just mindless tasks like moving an object or matching symbols. As a result, all of these detours come off as filler.
Trek to Yomi is a short but engrossing voyage that seems like you’re watching a monochrome Japanese film, and its outstanding presentation is enough to carry it even when it falls short in most other areas. Exploration and puzzles offer little more than a brief diversion, while combat is one-note and readily mastered. Thankfully, despite its briefness, the tale drew me in sufficiently to make my time worthwhile.
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- May 10, 2022