I love samurai games and Trek to Yomi certainly looks amazing but how does it play? Sharpen your blade because we're about to find out.
│ A.J. has been obsessively gaming since the late '80s and is just as passionate about video games in 2022. 🐻
Trek to Yomi has you play as sword-wielder Hiroki who's on a quest to protect his village and loved ones after his master perishes. The campaign that follows begins simply enough with exploration scenes around the village only to abruptly end with bandits invading and upon fending them off, things become a lot more escalated. Specifically, you'll end up fighting possessed humans, demons, and traverse some truly mind-bending environments as your surroundings crumble and warp. I kind of like that it doesn't tell a completely traditional samurai story as experiencing all of these extreme situations adds a great deal of variety to a twisted plot that would have otherwise felt rather stagnant, especially with the restrictions of its black and white visual aesthetic. v1d30chumz 18-204-56-185
Speaking of which, Trek to Yomi looks stunning with its super-wide presentation and black and white graphics that feature carefully animated environments and deliberate camera angles to make each and every scene pop. Of course, the gameplay needs to be accommodated and for the most part, it is, but it can be tricky to spot what types certain enemies are when they're far away or the lighting casts shade on them. Other than that, everything is gorgeous and cinematic.
On top of all this, the audio is phenomenal with many layers of ambience whether it's blowing winds or dripping water in caverns and the mood is amplified with occasional percussion and shamisen plucks that help flesh things out further. The sounds in combat are well done, too, although the sword slashes sound a bit too wet which made combat a tad less refined in the audio department. On the plus side, the Japanese voice cast is excellent as they add a great deal of personality to the unfolding story even if you have to read the captions.
The most important part of Trek to Yomi is its gameplay and that is where things start to fall apart. You'll essentially transition between 3D exploration segments and 2D combat scenes with the former being quite tedious and uninteresting. Simply running around to look for collectibles and upgrades can be rewarding but it's all so typical and straightforward that it's not all that satisfying. There is the odd super-easy puzzle and parts where you'll have to rush but they feel inconsequential as you can simply try again if you fail. Thankfully, there are decisions to make with different endings so that adds some replay incentive to the rather brief few hour long campaign.
Meanwhile, the combat is incredibly simple as you have a light and strong attack and you can fling projectiles such as arrows, kunai, and small cannon blasts at enemies. The main aspect of combat is parrying and considering there are a wide variety of enemies, it's enjoyable to master how to parry each one's incoming blows only to stun them and slash away when you succeed. However, that's about all there is to it and I frankly got bored of the whole combat system before the end credits rolled which is a shame because it is a short game.
Before I wrap up, I should mention that Trek to Yomi can be a challenging game which is great but I found that some segments simply went on for far too long without any checkpoint in sight thus making progression feel more like a chore than a rewarding challenge. I really don't enjoy playing long segments all over again so there could definitely be more save points in place to reduce tedium.
Trek to Yomi is an undoubtedly beautiful game that will constantly make you want to take screenshots. It's just too bad that its gameplay is as simplistic and repetitive as it is because it ends up feeling like a chore to play after a while.
- + Simple yet challenging combat with a solid variety of enemies
- + Absolutely gorgeous presentation
- + Collectibles and decisions add replay value
- - Combat could use many more elements
- - Exploration segments are tedious
- - Save spots can occasionally be too far apart