Think of Trek to Yomi as an epic interactive samurai movie.
Created by Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hog, Trek to Yomi is a game that simply oozes style, perfectly recreating the look and feel of old classics. From its moody black and white visuals to its cinematic camera angles, it really is a visual treat. And for the most part it’s fun to play, too.
Playing as a samurai named Hiroki, Trek to Yomi begins with him training as a young boy. But a bandit attack changes his life forever. The narrative then picks up years later, with Hiroki now a man determined to protect the people around him including his best friend Aiko. And so when danger comes close to his village, he springs into action. To go into any further details of the story would be to spoil it, but let’s just say that Hiroki is set to face many hardships.
The story is the driving force of Trek to Yomi, and backed up by the atmospheric visuals it does the job well. But this is a game, and so it’s a shame that the gameplay isn’t quite up to the same standard. Essentially a 2.5D adventure game, your time will be split exploring small environments with full 3D movement, and engaging in combat with enemies on a 2D plane. It’s a mix that works, but the combat leaves a little to be desired.
Like most samurai games, in Trek to Yomi it pays to play in a defensive manner. Waiting for your opponent to strike, parrying, and then retaliating with a counter will instantly kill many enemies. And others won’t take many more hits before succumbing to their injuries. Some attacks are trickier to parry than others, however, and so blocking or moving out of range are also good options. Ultimately, not being too aggressive and carefully choosing your attacks pays dividends.
A thrust attack can often hit from just outside an enemy’s reach, for example, while a light attack can beat a heavy attack if performed quickly enough. Combos are your bread and butter though, and you’ll seemingly unlock more as you play. You can even perform flashy finishers on enemies that are still standing yet close to death. And for those times where you want a bit of an advantage and there’s some distance between you and your enemy, a trio of ranged weapons are available, though ammo is limited.
When you get into a good, challenging fight, Trek to Yomi’s combat can be exhilarating. It’s just a shame that the fights in between can grow a bit tiresome. Parry, slash, dead. Parry, slash, dead. You might do that ten times or so until you encounter an enemy that really puts up a challenge in the first hour or two of the game. What’s perhaps more bothersome is that the combat just doesn’t quite flow as well as it could. It feels a bit clunky at times.
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Thankfully, things do improve in the latter half of this five-hour samurai epic. The enemies get more varied and fantastical, and puzzles are introduced to add even more gameplay variety. The combat is still just good rather than great, but at least it’s more exciting. Some encounters can prove be rather challenging though, and the last boss might have you cursing the screen.
Some of Trek to Yomi‘s finest moments are found outside of combat, when you’re free to explore in 3D. Going off the beaten path might allow you to discover a collectible, some ammunition, or even a health or stamina upgrade. There are people to help in need, too, who will be thankful for your intervention. But most importantly, they give you a little time to breathe and soak in the ambience.
A short but sweet adventure, you might replay Trek to Yomi to collect all of its collectibles and upgrades, perhaps even on a harder difficulty to test your skills. It has multiple endings to discover, too. And so for its modest price it’s easy to recommend to action adventure fans, especially if they also love samurai movies. Its stunning presentation is just the icing on the cake.
Trek to Yomi Review – GameSpew’s Score