Here is our review of Trek to Yomi, an artistic ode to the Japanese films of the 60s.
Trek to Yomi is a project that has been in the works for years. The creator Leonard Menchairi, paired up with Flying Wild Hog to develop Trek to Yomi, a story that feels right out of a Japanese Cinema from the 1960s.
This side-scrolling brawler is a labor of love, and it shows. The environments, atmosphere, and story all flow together seamlessly.
Plenty of times, I caught myself looking at the breathtaking locations in Trek to Yomi. But this is first and foremost a video game. So did this Japanese-cinema-inspired side-scrolling brawler also include rich and captivating gameplay mechanics?
Trek to Yomi revolves around the story of Hiroki and his struggle to find out what truly drives him.
Well, yes. When creating a video game that takes heavy influence from a Japanese film from the 50s or 60s, the one aspect that is as important as your story and presentation is gameplay. The gameplay can absolutely for no reason be left as an afterthought.
At times when creating a visual experience or highly artistic game, developers tend to forget about the gameplay and focus on presenting their story through the visuals.
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Thankfully, Trek to Yomi delivers. The gameplay is simple enough that most people can get into it but difficult enough to where anyone looking for a challenge will be satisfied. The game also offers plenty of difficulty levels to satisfy all players. There is even a difficulty that players can unlock where everyone, including themselves, is a one-hit kill.
Another aspect that Trek to Yomi does well in is its character building and storytelling. Trek to Yomi revolves around the story of Hiroki and his struggle to find out what truly drives him.
On the one hand, he has his master Kagerou who has taught him that he must swear to fulfill his duty or risk living a life of sin. On the other hand, he has his love, Aiko. Aiko is someone that Hiroki is willing to prioritize no matter what, which sometimes causes him to react irrationally.
Trek of Yomi follows his journey as he encounters issues that will test him. It’s a relatively short adventure. Most players will be able to finish the main storyline in about 6 hours. If you’re looking at every corner for every collectible, it might take you 8 hours at most.
This may seem like nothing, especially considering how massive some games have gotten. But there are four very different endings that players can obtain in Trek to Yomi. So those 6 hours can quickly turn into a full day of gaming.
It’s almost like being in an actual Japanese action film set in the 1960s.
These different endings have to deal with how you answer certain choices that the game presents you. Despite all this, where Trek to Yomi truly shines is its combat. Flying Wild Hog and Leanord Menchiari set out to make a video game that not only captures the look of some older Japanese silent films. But they also managed to capture the feeling of those films.
Each area feels like a set design that changes to allow our character to progress to the next scene. It’s almost like being in an actual Japanese action film set in the 1960s. At one point, I was standing under a burning fire, locking swords with a random enemy. It felt thrilling and unique.
But at times, I did wish that there was a more consistent flow of bad guys. It sometimes felt like I would only see one or two enemies per scene, but then suddenly, I’d be presented with five or six bad guys to dispose of.
The tone is unique, despite feeling a bit repetitive towards the end.
This is fine when it comes to the beginning, but there is a location shift in the game that presents you with a new type of bad guy that is not all that fun to fight in groups. And it is a shame that the game doesn’t spend as much time in the original location. It was my personal favorite, and it was the part that best captured the feeling the developers were trying to invoke.
At times I did find myself wishing the game had maintained the direction that the first half of the game was headed in. The second half introduces some concepts that sort of fall flat and don’t hit in the way I think the developers were hoping they would.
Trek to Yomi is an experience. There isn’t anything like it in the gaming world right now. The tone is unique, and the gameplay is stellar despite feeling repetitive towards the end. And that mostly has to do with the shift in location. This is a game you’ll beat and then want to play again right away to see how else the story could have unfolded. And even once you obtain them all, you may still want to come back and feel like a 1960s Japanese action film star all over again.