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Trek to Yomi review – a tropey but reverent tribute to Japanese cinema | Games

Even within the prologue, Trek to Yomi options extra samurai cliches than you’ll be able to chuck a katana at. Three ranges of joyless brutality made me consider that this was going to be an train in gratuitous gore. Yet after a lot of monochromatic homicide and speeches about obligation, honour and bloodshed, it slowly morphs into one thing extra compelling (although additionally hardly under-explored in Japanese cinema): a meditation on the inherent selfishness of vengeance.

Sporting a try-hard, Kurosawa-inspired black and white aesthetic – full with filmic grain – this sport’s influences are much less worn on its sleeve than embroidered into your entire kimono. Still, credit score the place credit score’s due – stable Japanese voice expertise helps this Polish/American collab really feel extra genuine. Trek to Yomi inevitably lives within the shadow of 2020’s Ghost of Tsushima, US studio Sucker Punch’s equally reverent tribute to samurai cinema. Where Ghost breaks up the bloodshed with jovial jaunts chasing foxes throughout its open world or fixing individuals’s issues, Yomi is a slash-happy side-scroller that doubles down on brutality, channelling the manga collection Lone Wolf and Cub’s sadistic spirit.

A disarmingly mild introduction has you sprinting by a bustling feudal-era city, overhearing the grumbling townsfolk. Predictably, the peace doesn’t final. Protagonist Hiroki’s katana spills its first drop of blood across the 20-minute mark, and your blade’s thirst by no means appears to be quenched. Swordplay is extra tactical and concerned than it seems to be, letting you management the path of slashes, combining parries with stance adjustments and light-weight and heavy assaults. From testing your mettle in opposition to closely armoured behemoths, to dispatching merceries beneath a hail of arrows, there’s simply sufficient selection in duels to hold you slashing away and unlocking new blade expertise to up the physique depend.

Just as slaying samey bandits begins to lose its sheen, a deadly encounter sees a guilt-wracked, bloodstained Hiroki banished to Yomi – purgatory – the place he slices his method by his literal demons. Leaving the generic feudal villages and terrified townsfolk behind, unsettling cries, warping environments and scuttling undead develop into the brand new regular, and that’s when this katana caper finds its footing. Yomi’s portrayal of penalties and regret isn’t going to win awards for subtlety, but offers you a motive to see this journey by.

A smattering of puzzles and the occasional chase scene supply some respite from slaughter. Taking the time to flip down branching paths rewards the participant’s curiosity, too, whether or not that’s with essential ammo for ranged weapons, hidden story collectibles, or coveted well being and stamina upgrades. The checkpointing, nonetheless, has led to a few of the most swear-inducing moments I’ve ever skilled in a sport; their solely inconsistent placement is baffling. Infuriatingly, after barely surviving a number of intense fight sections, there’s usually no save level, and you find yourself replaying the identical skirmishes time and again. Other occasions they’re generously positioned after a single, not even notably difficult encounter.

But regardless of its repetition and frustrations, I warmed to this grainy, gore-soaked journey after the tedious early hours. Thanks to a smattering of participant selections, the sport affords simply sufficient of a trace at participant company to make you’re feeling concerned within the narrative, too, giving Trek to Yomi’s surrealist slaughter a sense of function. There’s a sturdy argument that a Japanese-made try at this style would come nearer to doing the samurai fantasy justice, but as with the various Japanese takes on digital America, there’s a schlocky attraction to Yomi’s tropey inauthenticity nonetheless.

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