NCG Reviews Yomawari: Midnight Shadows

Yomawari is back with another title, Yomawari: Midnight Shadows.  This is a wonderful title fit for this spooky season.  If you are looking for a title to help you get through the trick-or-treat rush, or need a couple of scares to keep up with the season, this is the perfect title for you.

Details

Title: Yomawari: Midnight Shadows
Release Date: 10/24/2017 (North America)
Developer/Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software (NIS)
Genre: Survival Horror
Platfrom: PS4, Windows, PS Vita

Story

Yomawari tends to touch on deep topics, particularly around death and loss.  Midnight Shadows follows the same theme.  The story begins with Yui and Haru watching the fireworks together for the last time; Yui will be moving to another town.  The fireworks show marks the last chance the girls will get to spend time together.  While most series signal that friendships can remain strong through distance, Haru struggles with the separation.  The separation between Yui and Haru is where the conflict of the story lies.

Throughout the game Haru desperately searches for Yui, putting herself in frightening situations.  Every time Haru seems close to finding Yui, Yui is long gone. Yui, however, is placed into new areas without a sense of how she got there; her goal is not to seek out Haru, but rather return home; to find her “home”.

Will the girls find each other in the end?

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Game Play

If you have played Yomawari: Night Alone, you’ll already have a good grasp of the game and its mechanics.

For those who are new to the series, game play is simple.  You must wander around the town to find Yui.  You can walk, run, tip-toe, pick up/throw items, turn on/off your flashlight, and hide.  You must use these skills to get through the town, which is filled with ghosts at nearly every turn.

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Midnight Shadows added a few new mechanics such as moving objects, carrying objects that give you special abilities, and exploring indoor areas. There’s also a need side-scrolling part that contrasts the usual top-down view.

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The ghosts work as a guiding mechanic.  Some areas that you should not be accessing based on where you are in the story line will be filled with ghost obstacles at every corner to deter you from going that direction; some ghosts will just outright block your path.  When you are going in the correct direction, you will have to analyze how the ghosts move and utilize what is around you to either escape from the ghost or to sneak past it.

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While the ghosts do pose a challenge, the difficulty is not to extreme. You will easily predict the movements, figure out how you need to get by, and then move forward with the story. Of course, this comes along with an infuriating amount of deaths and blood splatter.

Audio

At the beginning of the game you are told that you must put your headphones in and only focus on the screen; you have to promise that you will.  Why? Because putting in headphones immediately sucks you into the creepy atmosphere of the game.  There is no real soundtrack, but the ambient noise from buzzing streetlights, kicking up leaves, cawing raven, and the airy breath of a wondering ghost -it is enough to set the tone of the game.  The audio also works to make you leap from your seat.  When those jump scares happen, you will feel your entire body tremble!

To be safe you can play without sound, but what is the fun in that?

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Graphics

I love the style of Yomawari.  It is a combination of innocence and darkness.  The characters themselves are cute but these cute girls get lost in such a chilling atmosphere.  To depict the child-like nature of the main characters, scribble art is used frequently.  It appears in the objects found around the town and Haru’s retelling of her search for Yui.  It only drives home the child-like nature of the girls which really makes you think how the heck these girls are enduring so much terror without losing their minds.

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Despite having such a wonderful art style, I did noticed that there is a slight lag in movement.  I played this title on the PlayStation Vita and noticed that while walking or running there was a slight pause in motion when moving toward areas, or areas that needed to load.  Sometimes this felt annoying because the pacing of the game is already slow, but it reminds you that this is not a title you can just rush through.  At least not if you want the full effect of the game.

Verdict:

I’d give this title an 8 out of 10.  There is not much variation from the previous title as far as mechanics.  However, the story is compelling and the jump scares, while absolutely terrifying when they happen, are pretty fun to play through.

Score

Have you played any Yomawari titles? Will you be picking this one up for a few scares? Which is your favorite horror game? Let us know in the comments!

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