Yomawari: Night Alone is the latest game from Japanese developer Nippon Ichi Software. They are better known by their Disgaea series with its beautiful sprite based work and this appears to clearly show in this game, which sports a gorgeous visual style that both, haunts and amazes, the player.
Yomawari: Night Alone begins with a shocking introduction that clearly proves that the game won’t hold anything back to shows its grim dark atmosphere. The introduction begins with the main character taking a stroll through a city with her dog. We are then introduced to the controls as we take the dog for a walk. The tutorial is short but it does provide the basics of the game and it has a rather brutal end that we won’t spoil. The world of Yomawari is beautiful and full of detailed sprite work, especially on the main character. The gameplay though, it certainly isn’t up to the mark of the art style.
So what exactly is happening around in Yomawari: Night Alone, as the name implies, the story deals with a young girl who is lost in a world that gets haunted by ghosts during the night time. The main aim here is to keep her safe from the ghosts while she looks for her sister who mysteriously disappears right at the beginning of the game. To facilitate this task, the game gives the player a flashlight that can be used to steer clear from the ghosts. The flashlight is the only source of light in the dark world of Yomawari: Night Alone aside from the street lamps.
Speaking of the visuals, the ghosts featured in the game are all based on the popular Japanese urban legends and make no mistake, they are downright creepy in their appearance. There are ghosts featuring the head of a cat to some disgusting looking blob creatures that hunt the player throughout their journey. We can use bushes to hide from these ghosts or we can try to hide behind signs that are scattered throughout the city. This gameplay mechanic feels rather intense as once we hide, we can’t really see anything on the screen. The ghosts’ presence can be seen through the red visual cues which indicate that the ghost is near the player. We can use it to determine the exact time to get out of the bush and run for our life.
If you think the game is easy based on its visual design, then you will be gravely mistaken. The game often has difficulty spikes that are largely unwarranted. As we have limited saves, the ghosts can one-hit kill the player and this results in some tense moments during the exploration once we discover a ghost and find out that there is no way to avoid it without having to lose our life. This can often end up as frustrating because the deaths are meaningless. There could have been some purpose to them, but as they work now, it is just to frustrate the player as they continue from a previous checkpoint.
The game sports a minimal UI which makes the screen remain free of any clutter and help us better immerse ourselves in the environment. The sound design is brilliant as the tension ramps up, it works best with headphones. There are some good jump scares with the sudden appearance of the ghosts that can scare the player, but depending on your definition of the horror, it might not be as scary to you. There are also collectibles to discover throughout the game’s world.
While Yomawari: Night Alone has an intriguing premise, it is somewhat held back by its simplistic gameplay design. There isn’t really much to do aside from hiding and running away from ghosts and aside from its short length, the game often ends up feeling repetitive. But despite this, there are some genuine tense moments in the game which can cause great stress so if you are up for a good survival horror game, we highly recommend to give Yomawari: Night Alone a try.
Yomawari: Night Alone is available now for the PS Vita. It was developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NISA. This review covers the PS Vita version of the game.
Yomawari: Night Alone Review (PSV)
Yomawari: Night Alone features an interesting story premise which is somewhat held back by its repetitive gameplay. The survival horror aspects take inspiration from the old school games and the gorgeous art style makes the game visually appealing. It can be a fun experience if we can ignore its shortcomings.