Trek to Yomi Review: Man or Samurai?

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Let’s see together, in this review, if and how much it is worth buying Trek to Yomi, the journey of a samurai narrated by a young Game Designer, Leonard Menchiari, and by Flying Wild Hog

“I don’t need you to protect me. I need you to be by my side. Promise me “.

Love and revenge. Two topoi heavily used, or it would be better to say “abused”, in the productions of any entertainment medium. The most recent video game that comes to mind like this, on the spot, is The Last of Us Part 2 and, going back further in time and generations, God of War. If we move into the field of cinematography, here too you will find dozens of films that are based on a “journey in search of revenge” of a protagonist who has lost something, in one way or another. John Wick, Black Mamba, so on and so forth. Is there still really something you can tell, starting from these assumptions?

When we faced Trek to Yomi for the first time, pad in hand, we immediately realized that the small title by Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hog (the publication is instead of Devolver Digital) certainly did not shine for originality in this regard. to topics covered. It was transparent, however, from the very first frames, a “something” that made him dramatically interesting, in an almost visceral way. A feeling that we had had since the first trailers and that has not waned over the course of the 7-8 hours it took us to complete the first trip to Hiroki’s Yomi. And now, with a cool head, we’re here to tell you about it. Welcome to our Trek to Yomi review.

The Path That Lies Ahead

Trek to Yomi is a journey, as you might guess from the name. A journey that is partly real, partly metaphorical, that Hiroki, our protagonist, is forced to make when his life is turned upside down. And in reality this does not happen on one occasion, but in two: the first, narrated in the prologue, which also gives the basics of the gameplay quite well, and that coincides with the death of his mentor and teacher, as well as the father of the love of his life, Aiko. The second, several years later, when following the attack on his village he finds himself forced to embark on a dream journey, disconnected and terribly surreal, in order to find himself.

As you can well understand, in reality, the narrative of Trek to Yomi is nothing particularly original and heavily harks back to all Japanese cinema of the mid-twentieth century, as well as the Game Designer itself admits. The tropes are therefore always the same: samurai, honor, love, revenge, travel. There is nothing really innovative or interesting and the feeling of already seen permeates the whole story of Hiroki, with virtually non-existent twists and terribly predictable dialogue. Kill, but is it that bad?

Actually, no. While Trek to Yomi’s narrative actually doesn’t have anything more interesting than usual, what it has to do it does pretty well: accompany the gameplay. We cannot therefore demonize this choice too much, partly because it is precisely at the basis of the creative idea and its desire to be a tribute to a certain type of cinematrography, partly because, in the end, it’s not a bad story. . It’s just very classic and predictable.

Trek to Yomi Review: Man or Samurai?

Like Water Blood Flows | Review Trek to Yomi

Trek to Yomi is divided into six chapters, or it would be better to actually call them “levels”, of basically variable duration, but which in total will keep you busy, as we said at the beginning, 7-8 hours at normal difficulty. Although the game was presented primarily as two-dimensional, in reality this is only true for the fighting part. Once the katana is sheathed, Hiroki is free to explore the portions of the game maps in three dimensions, without interruption with the combat phases.

The exploration of the game maps mainly serves to find all the small ravines and secondary roads containing upgrades and collectibles. Let’s go in order. There are no experience points or special skill trees in Trek to Yomi and our Samurai will be strengthened as the chapters continue or by finding specific scrolls designed to improve skills already learned or unlock new ones. These power ups are flanked by those that increase the Health Points and the Energy, the Stamina of the game.

Trek to Yomi Review: Man or Samurai?

The Promises We Can’t Keep | Review Trek to Yomi

As for the collectibles, however, there are a dozen of them for each chapter and they are all very well represented and with interesting descriptions, useful for discovering some curiosities about the Japanese culture of the time and the game world. All very beautiful, you will say, and indeed it is. The problem is only one: in Trek to Yomi it is not possible, once the game is over, to select a chapter to replay and complete it. This means that, if for pure distraction you lose a secondary road, perhaps containing a specific collectible, it will almost certainly be lost forever.

The very strict checkpoint system does not help and it is not possible to create separate saves, therefore making it impossible to retrace one’s steps once the narrative is advanced. If you want to complete all the collectibles, you will have to do it in one run. Finally, if we consider that Trek to Yomi has in total the beauty of three different endings, selectable with choices throughout the adventure, we find ourselves really dumbfounded by the design choice not to include the chapter selection. Sin.

Trek to Yomi Review: Man or Samurai?

Love Everlasting | Review Trek to Yomi

The fights in Trek to Yomi were created with a two-dimensional side-scrolling perspective, and have a pacing that reminded us a lot of fencing matches. Hiroki will in fact find himself facing hordes of enemies, but always a maximum of two at a time, just as it requires (approximately) the honor of the Samurai. A simple parry and parry system breaks the enemy guards and allows our protagonist to hit with light and heavy attacks, the effects of which vary according to the opponent we find ourselves in front of. Some brigands, for example, are equipped with armor and therefore “prefer” piercing attacks, which destabilize their poise and make them susceptible to the final moves of the young Hiroki.

Some inhabitants of the Yomi, on the other hand, will have special powers and will be able, for example, to fly their Katana or summon minions, as well as completely empty Hiroki’s energy bar in the event of a wrong shot. If this happens, the Samurai is completely exposed to enemy combos and, almost certainly, dead. Trek to Yomi is indeed not a difficult game, that’s for sure, but some small technical flaws make it rather incorrect, in some situations. Starting from the slight input lag that we noticed in our test version (Xbox Series S), which has often delayed our parry that millisecond that is enough to make it ineffective, and which, especially in the more advanced stages of the game, can really be lethal.

Trek to Yomi Review: Man or Samurai?

Father Belongs to Yomi | Review Trek to Yomi

To this we add the bitter awareness, after a few hours of play, that the real game breaking mechanics of all Trek to Yomi are the combos that break the balance of the enemy and allow you to make the final moves. There are a couple of quite simple execution and, considering that with very rare exceptions all enemies can be stunned… you will understand how you proceed in the game. The bosses are not many, nor particularly difficult to take down, if you pay a little attention to their attack patterns and curiously they are the only enemies with a life bar.

Hiroki, in addition to his katana, can rely on a range of ranged weapons rather typical for the time: the Bo Shuriken, the Bow and the Osutsu, a sort of arquebus as powerful as it is extremely slow to load. These solutions have allowed us to clean up particularly dense areas of enemies positioned in an unfair way and difficult to fix in a short time, but they are still secondary to the use of the katana.

Trek to Yomi Review: Man or Samurai?

Sun and Moon | Review Trek to Yomi

What wins, totally and unconditionally, in Trek to Yomi is its artistic direction. The technical limitations of the production, which certainly doesn’t have a texture count so high as to be a jaw-cracker, are completely obscured by its ability to give us the creeps for every camera angle. We often found ourselves stopping to contemplate the various game scenarios, both two-dimensional and three-dimensionaland the excellent play of light and shadow that emphasizes the atmosphere even more.

Everything that characterizes the Trek to Yomi stylistic code emanates “inspiration”. From architecture, to landscapes to all the small details included in the characterization of the villages, of the Yomi, or of unspoiled nature. The whole is accompanied by a atmospheric soundtrack, always spot on in every situation and never really taken for granted. The Japanese dubbing is also excellent, even if, we imagine for some audio bugs, some dubbing lines were skipped in the final stages of the game. Nothing that cannot be solved with a patch, in short.

Trek to Yomi Review: Man or Samurai?

The Perfect Light

We conclude this review by taking up the question we asked ourselves at the beginning: is there really something innovative that Trek to Yomi can tell? The answer is simply no. However, this does not mean that Leonard Menchiari’s title is not valid, far from it: the excellent artistic direction, a fun and tested combat system (albeit breakable and not as deep as it initially seems) and a pleasant narrative, albeit not from Oscars make Trek to Yomi a great starting point for a Game Designer who has been able to demonstrate his skills to the world with class, style and true Samurai honor. And you? Which path will you take: Man or Samurai?

Trek to Yomi is currently available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X | S and PC and is also part of the Xbox Game Pass catalog. Let us know if you have tried it below in the comments, we will continue to keep you updated with all the news, guides and reviews on videogame and tech! And if you are interested in game keys at advantageous prices, we recommend that you take a look at the InstantGaming catalog!

Points in favor

  • Fun and easy to master gameplay …
  • Open and explorable environments
  • Excellent artistic direction from every point of view

Points against

  • … just as easy to break
  • Banalotta fiction
  • Replayability harassed by lack of chapter selection
  • Some technical inexperience