Review of Trek to Yomi Review: Traveling to Yomi is an homage to Akira Kurosawa’s classic black and white samurai films, which feature rice fields swaying in the wind as villages burn and a big black whirling vortex in hell. Trek to Yomi, on the other hand, ventures into territory unexplored in Kurosawa’s previous works. Nevertheless, the path to lunacy is strewn with flaws, and I only persevered through the combat to see where my samurai’s descent would take him.
In the wake of a bandit attack on his town, protagonist Hiroki is forced to choose between doing his job and protecting those he cares about most in his life — or taking retribution. In this well-told tale of personal demons (and real demons), Hiroki confronts his inner demons, and I get to make choices that affect how this samurai tragedy ends. Hiroki’s actor in particular succeeds to express his downward spiral into wrath and remorse. All of the Japanese voice actors provide honest performances.
I’m a fan of both Trek and Yomi’s supernatural aspects. In the second half of the game, Hiroki finds himself in a genuine hell, toeing the line between life and death. There are beasts and eerie apparitions that take me off guard in a setting I thought was more realistic, similar to the strange elements of Uncharted 1 and 2. Intricate mysticism does not overshadow the story, but rather adds to it.
This means that most of your time on the walk to Yomi is spent swinging a sword. In order to gain an advantage, I mostly relied on parrying enemy blows to create gaps in my defenses. In addition to long-range weaponry like shuriken and arrows and sword skills like a flurry of fast attacks and a piercing thrust through armored foes, I possessed a limited supply. When the same parry and slash techniques could take care of virtually any average enemy, they all seemed like they were insignificant.
I was annoyed by how difficult it was to detect if I had successfully parried an attack. Because of the lack of visible cues and the cut spoken signal, I was never able to fully capitalize on the opportunity I’d created. There are moments when I can clearly see my sword slashes piercing an enemy, only to receive no response. Is it possible that they’re hiding their hitboxes in their bodies? (If that’s the case, it’s one of the few samurai techniques I’m missing.) A clean hit didn’t feel like an impact unless my opponent stumbled back, which was nearly impossible to get.
When compared to the cinematic duels Trek to Yomi is trying so hard to replicate, it just doesn’t measure up. To face the foe directly behind me after defeating an opponent, I would press R, but nothing would happen. To get Hiroki to register the action, I had to repeatedly press the button, and the time I lost turning my back on him cost me HP and sometimes resulted in death.
In addition, avoiding an enemy is unpredictable: I’d be able to roll underneath them at times but would crash into a solid wall at others.
Trek to Yomi isn’t particularly good at presenting a diverse range of foes. In the beginning, you’ll have to deal with robbers, but as the game progresses, you’ll encounter more sinister foes. Throughout the game, the enemies have the exact identical character models. Only the bosses offered any variety to the game’s monotonous combat, and they were the only ones that forced me to think outside the box. I had to constantly modify my location on the battlefield because of one boss. Its wind attack may knock me off my feet if I stayed too close to one side of the stage.
Story beat to story beat, exploration tends to follow a linear course. Occasionally, simple problems stood in my way, but they were all built using the same design, so overcoming them was a piece of cake.
When you’re not fighting, a fixed camera with 3D movement allows you to search for collectibles and upgrades, such as increased stamina and health. One option may lead to plot advancement, while the other may lead to a collectible or upgrade. The problem here is that it can be difficult to distinguish between the two.
For the sake of making Hiroki more effective in battle, I’d take one road and stay with it in the hope that I’d find what I’m searching for. If I took the essential way, I’d fall from a precarious ledge that wouldn’t allow me to retrace my step. Before and after practically every confrontation, Trek to Yomi provides numerous safe places that allow you to resume from a checkpoint. Inconvenient to have to savescum simply for the sake of exploring these different routes.
Because of the clumsy mistakes, I could have forgiven Yomi’s design flaws. After leaping from a ledge, I’d occasionally land on my feet after clipping through the floor. After plummeting through a collapsing roof, my character would disappear into thin air. Either from a checkpoint or by closing and reopening the game, I could try again.
Even the final boss didn’t show up on occasion because enemy engagements just wouldn’t activate. Every time I died and wanted to battle it again, I had to restart the game because otherwise, the arena would be empty to play again.
Yomi Trek is a chore despite its stunning visuals. Samurai drama-worthy tale, but combat never rises above the level of a sword training montage: it is just one maneuver after another.