Editor: Diane Hutchinson Editor@girlgamersuk.com

Yomawari: Night Alone

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 4 - 2016

Cute, and slightly evil.

 
NIS America are well known for bringing over weird and wonderful videogames from Japan, and the latest title is Yomawari: Night Alone, a survival horror game for the Vita. Yomawari doesn’t look like your average horror game, and it starts with such innocence.

 
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I mean, how bad can it be? The game starts with the player controlling a little girl taking her little dog Poro out for a walk in their home town. The visuals are adorably soft, with a chibi style to both the young girl and her dog. Even the sound effects give the feeling of security on a warm summer’s evening. But then, without much by way of warning, something terrible happens that provides the first, but not the last, shock of the game. The dog is lost, and the little girl heads home to explain what has happened to her sister. The sister then goes looking for the dog, leaving the younger girl to await her return. It doesn’t take long for the little girl to realise that the sister isn’t coming back, so the little girl has to venture out into the town in the dead of night and find them both.

 
What previously came across as a quaint town now takes on a decidedly more creepy feel, as the little girl starts exploring with her torch, trying to find her sister and the lost dog. The atmosphere in the town has a smouldering threat, it feels like something dangerous is always just beyond the sight of the girl. And in many ways, there is, as the player quickly discovers that the town is packed with wandering spirits that would cause the little girl harm.

 
Again, these spirits have an almost cute look about them, albeit with a creepy overtone. But if they get close enough to the little girl, it will be a quick jump back to the previous save point. The girl has no way to combat these spirits, and so must do what most of us would do if faced with a similar situation, hide.

 
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The girl has a way of knowing when spirits are near, her heartbeat will start to race, giving the player a good indicator of when they are in danger. At this point, the player will have to choose to either run away and hope they don’t give chase, or find somewhere to hide. Bushes or signs provide great hiding places, and when the girl hides in such a place, she closes here eyes tight and waits for the threat to pass. With closed eyes, everything surrounding the girl goes black, but a red blur will show where the spirit is and give the player some clue as to whether they should remain hidden or make a run for it. Most spirits will just wander off on their way, but some are particularly malevolent and will actively hunt the girl. Some spirits can be distracted in different ways, such as by throwing rocks or matches, while others will require stealth or complete darkness to sneak past them. It’s incredibly tense, and coming across a new spirit type for the first time is quite nerve-wracking as the player has to work out what to do.

 
Yomawari is not an easy game, players will find themselves dying quite a lot through the course of exploring the town. Dying will take the player back to their most recent checkpoint, which come in the form of Jizo statues that can be found around the town. Activating these statues requires offering the statue a coin, which can also be easily found through the town. The statues also offer the chance to warp around the town between the statues, which saves a certain amount of wandering. Players can also save the game proper back at the little girl’s bedroom, should they wish to leave the game and come back later.

 
Wandering around the dark and dangerous town, the player will come across items that further the story, along with plenty of other items and strange things going on that serve only to entertain the player and build up the atmosphere of the game. There are plenty of times when the player will be left wondering what the hell is going on. Even with the main story, there is a lot of ambiguity, leaving the player to create their own explanations as to why things are the way they are in Yomawari. However, the lack of direction in the game can leave the player having to wander aimlessly early on, which can be frustrating and put players off.

 
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Yomawari: Night Alone leaves the player with many questions. But this unanswered mystery, along with the creepy atmosphere and occasional jump scares, make Yomawari incredibly memorable. It is not your average survival horror game, but is genuinely scary and very enjoyable to play. Pick up Yomawari if you fancy a scare on your Vita.

 

 ★★★★★★★★☆☆ 



 

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