Yomawari: The Long Night Collection
By Landon Burlingham
There comes a time in every child’s life where they have to face their fears and step out into the dark, cruel world. Yomawari: Night Alone forces you to do just that. As a young girl you must venture out into the cold, haunting city in search of your dog, Poro, and your sister, Sis. At first sight this game may seem like an eerie version of Animal Crossing but takes a quick turn down a more sinister road. A tragic accident leads little sis back home to Sis, who takes it upon herself to help you in any way she can. Sis goes off on her own and after a few long hours of waiting, little sis knows what needs to be done; she goes and looks for Sis. There’s no turning back now as you journey through this seemingly abandoned city to find your beloved dog Poro and your courageous sister, Sis.
The Tip and The Top
Yomawari: Night Alone gets right down to brass tax almost immediately. You find yourself back at home where Sis goes to find Poro; that’s where things start to get interesting. A Night Alone starts off strong, making you feel like there’s nothing you can do to save Sis and Poro and that you’ll be alone for more than just a night. The mechanics are simple and get you feeling like you’re truly helpless, the only thing your equipped with is a flashlight and a heartbeat.
The game has a simple yet effective way to notify you when enemies are close by. A simple heartbeat. When enemies are close the heartbeat gets faster, when there farther away it gets slower. The only way to see the enemies is.... You guessed it, the flashlight! While wondering around town enemies will appear out of nowhere or flash across the screen right in front of you. Not knowing where or when the enemies will give chase adds an extra element to keep things a bit more interesting.
The setting keeps the tone; an abandoned city with no help in site. The map isn’t large but has enough variety to keep your attention. As you try and find your sister and your dog, you find lost toys, notes from a stranger and other various items to help you along your way. There are puzzles that need solving all while running or hiding from enemies which adds another layer of difficulty.
The Flip and The Flop
While Yomawari maintains its integrity throughout, it can seem a bit repetitive at times. The monsters don’t offer a lot of variation in their movements or attacks so once you’ve faced one once, there isn’t anything new to learn. The objectives are very high level and offer almost no help when it comes to what to do or where to go. As the game goes on you figure out where you need to go based on process of elimination (You never go back to the places you’ve been in the beginning).
There are a few “boss” encounters but they’re so underwhelming it’s hard to even consider them bosses. The mechanics for defeating bosses is the same as for any other enemy, find a way to get around it. Basically, by just sprinting past a boss you can get what you need in order to succeed. The areas and puzzles become repetitive along with the enemies you encounter. The music is virtually nonexistent and the only thing you hear for most of the game is your characters heartbeat. Being that it’s also an insanely loud heartbeat makes it even harder to remain calm. Maybe that’s what the developer intended but, driving the player insane doesn’t help anyone.
Overall, Yomawari: A Night Alone falls short of being a truly scary game. There’s not enough variety in how enemies interact with the player and their surroundings, the setting gets old after the first few “missions” and it doesn’t give you much difficulty in completing. What it does do well though is make the player feel like they’re actually alone. With no NPC interaction and no one around except for monsters, you start to think the night will never end. The lighting in the game is also very good and does add to the horror level; flickering lights and flashlights burning out add that extra little pizzazz people are looking for when playing horror games. If you’re looking for a quick scare or a simple game to play you should check out Yomawari.
Review copy provided by NIS America