By James Page
Game of the Month:
Yomawari: Night Alone
Developer: NIS America
Release Date: 10/25/2016
System: PS Vita
Player’s Page: Yomawari: Night Alone
Video games can serve as a nice escape from the monotony of everyday life. Just like the avid reader, who lives one life for every story they pick up; the avid gamer lives multiple lives beyond their one grounded in reality. To be wrenched away from the comforting release of video games can be a hard thing to deal with, but alas the duties of dealing with unexpected changes to everyday life must come first. No matter how pleasant and relaxing an alternate reality may be; we must remember our responsibilities in the real world are our primary concern. However, as time passes things eventually start to settle down and we are afforded a return to the calming release of video games.
That brings us to December’s game of the month Yomawari: Night Alone. Released by NIS America, Yomawari is a survival horror mystery game which invokes a sense of fear and dread common in the most spine tingling corners of Japanese horror. Although it may seem like an odd genre to play during the festive holiday season, the increasing hours of darkness set the perfect atmosphere for horror games. Sitting cloistered in a dark room in the dead of night will truly put the player in the shoes of the main character while exploring a town cloaked in perpetual darkness.
Youth seems to be centered on adventure and the exploration of the unknown. As the darkness of the title screen clears we are greeted by the image of a young girl with her faithful dog Poro; the two connected by a crimson leash. Together, they are on an adventure to explore a dark tunnel on the edge of town. However, as they approach the entrance, all of the courage within them departs and the pair decides to return home for the evening. On the walk home, shadows and movement seem to occupy the peripheral of an already limited vision until the long building tension suddenly breaks and disaster strikes.
A loving sister waits patiently for the duo’s return, however; concern quickly consumes her as her little sister climbs the steps with an empty crimson leash in hand. Poro has gotten loose and is now missing. With calming reassurance the elder sister commits herself to finding the lost dog and sets off into the darkness of the night. As time passes, there is no sign of the elder sister or Poro, and so the little heroine summons the courage to go alone into the night in search of her beloved sister and faithful pet. However, little does she realize the horrors which await her beyond the walls of her yard or the difficult and painful lessons she will learn by the time everything is said and done.
Yomawari: Night Alone is a classic survival horror game from NIS America and the spiritual successor to hotL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. The horror game draws heavily on elements from Japanese pop culture such as rundown shrines, rice paddies, large gated school complexes, and Daruma dolls. These elements combined with tradition Japanese architecture styles help to create a unique setting which is not commonly found outside Japan. Indeed, many of the more strange elements seem placed not to frighten but to leave a dark imprint on a person’s mind.
The concept of the game may seem simple: explore the town, collect clues, and solve mysteries; but the difficulty lies in the journey. The player will need to contend with low light, fog, forced camera angles, and roadblocks; but the real difficulty rests with the numerous enemies. The enemies cannot be destroyed, and so the player must rely on their wits, speed, sense of caution, and luck in order to survive. Of course, when all else fails; the player can always try hiding in a bush.
The game mechanics are rather simple and easy to master, and most often the player will find themselves falling back on one or two abilities, such as sprinting; to avoid most enemies. Apart from sprinting, the player will need to rely heavily on the flashlight in order to spot the various enemies hiding in the shadows. Although easy to master, the simplistic controls seem to add to the level of frustration felt by the player when the game becomes difficult and repetition kicks in. There are many times when the player will die as a result of trial and error, and the impression left with the player will be that there is a lack of direction given in game. Luckily, there is not a finite amount of lives so the only limitation is a person’s patience level.
Yomawari: Night Alone is a fun game overall, despite a few frustrations; and it will provide a wonderful experience to anyone who picks up a copy. The game is rated Teen, but the dark themes and innuendo paired with the serious nature of several key storyline aspects place this title on the upper side of the rating. In addition to the main game, the retail copy also includes a copy of hotL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary. Together, the two titles will offer numerous hours of enjoyment which will quickly consume all of one’s free time.
Remember, like all games if you play them just to have fun there will never be a bad game.
Graphics: 3.0 out of 4.0
Game Play: 3.0 out of 4.0
Personal: 2.0 out of 2.0
Total Score: 8.0 out of 10.0