Friday, 6 May 2022

Trek to Yomi: PS5 Review

Trek to Yomi: PS5 Review

Developed by Flying Wild Hog
Published by Devolver Digital
Platform: PS5

If you thought Ghost of Tsushima was the ultimate samurai experience, then indie Trek to Yomi may need to have a word in your ear.
Trek to Yomi: PS5 Review

Because this is perhaps one of the must-play indie games of the year - a stylised take on the samurai story and a brilliantly evocative game that crackles on every visceral level, Trek to Yomi is a deeply immersive and evocative experience that deserves to rank among the best.

A simple tale that starts as a young student learns from his sensei, Trek To Yomi finds you taking the mantle of that student Hiroki in later years when his village comes under attack from rebel invaders. It's up to you as Hiroki to try and find your master and defend the village from the marauding forces, and survive the onslaught.

In all honesty, it's not as if Trek to Yomi is an original idea - at its core, it's essentially a hack and slash 2D scrolling game, which has limited combat potential.
Trek to Yomi: PS5 Review

But it's in its execution that it soars, as with some gorgeous aesthetics and some clever use of in-game camera the game comes vividly to life, and you're fighting for your life as the chapters of this story unfold.

Combat is familiar to anyone who's played any kind of variation of samurai games. Pressing different buttons unlock familiar combinations of light and heavy attacks - parry an enemy's attack and you can execute the perfect takedown. In truth, there's little that's revolutionary here - and that's no criticism. 

As the game plays out, further combat moves are learned, and become vital to take down chapter ending bosses or trickier hordes of enemies. Each move is tautly executed and can be learned by anyone, new or old, handling the controller for the first time.

But it's the game's visuals which help Trek to Yomi to soar.
Trek to Yomi: PS5 Review

Soaked in a black and white monochromatic aesthetic, the game's atmosphere is wondrous and sets the tone the moment it starts. Add into that the fact Trek To Yomi utilises the kind of 2.5D approach that was evident in Abe's Oddysee: Soul Storm and you start to get a depth that wonderfully betrays the idea of a traditional 2D scroller.

It feels like a samurai film, from rain-soaked moments to epic shadow-led showdowns, this is a game that revels in its genre, and executes it brilliantly.

While the road is fixed in the game, and it's not a sandbox title, the fact your camera view constantly changes adds so much to the execution here and the immersion levels as well. Moving in front of caves, or down slanting pathways that make up the village adds so much to Yomi's world coming alive, and Hiroki's quest having real heft.

There are occasionally some niggles in the game - from time to time, the camera viewpoint obscures the possibility of what you need to do next; and it takes a while to work out what things and people can be interacted with in the village. But in truth, these are exceptionally minor points in an indie that appears to pride itself on quality more than anything.

Trek To Yomi is a title any self-respecting gamer and casual cinephile should own. Its potent mix of atmosphere and game play make it one of 2022's essential titles - its simplicity of execution and its deft use of the basics mean it's a game that you'll want to play again the moment you've completed it.

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