[Review] Yomawari: Midnight Shadows
When I played the first Yomawari, I was blown away by how scary it was, despite the game's cute artstyle. I loved it. The game was innovative and something I had never played before. Shortly after, Midnight Shadows was announced and I was really excited. I finally got to play it, I was not left disappointed.
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a top-down survival horror game developed by Nippon Ichi Software and published by NIS America. While not much has changed in terms of visuals since the first game, the scary level sure has been amped up.
The game opens with the two friends Yui and Haru watching fireworks together at night. When they decide to walk home, one of the girls gets abducted by a shadow and now it is up to the player to bring the two back together.
People who have played the first Yomawari will be familiar with the gameplay. You guide a girl holding nothing but a flashlight through the town's dark streets at night, trying to evade the shadows and monsters lurking behind every corner, some of them chasing after you nonstop while others just appear shortly to scare you. You can't fight the shadows, meaning you are not to touch any of them or else you will die immediately. They can easily be avoided by hiding in bushes, using items to distract them or simply just running away from them though. The faster your heart beats, the more you are in danger. There are also many different side quests to fulfill and objects scattered all over town or you to find which are, however, mostly irrelevant to the plot.
However, compared to the first game, you control two characters. The decisions you make as Yui has different impacts on Haru and vice versa. Due to that, at first I thought the game might have a possible multiplayer mode, however that is sadly not the case. You are also not just almost always outside at night. Instead, you are now often inside dark buildings like libraries or cursed mansions, searching for your friend. This, to me, is a big improvement as it makes the game a lot creepier since the screen is not as brightly lit and the shadows you encounter are way harder to evade considering you do not have a lot of space to run from them to. In the game jumpscares are pretty rare (but there still are some), it is rather the feeling of not being safe anywhere that makes you feel at unease.
Another improvement is that you can now find and choose from different charms, so-called Omamori, which will have an impact on your stats, e.g. being able to run faster or reducing your stamina decrease, making it a little easier for players who used to have problems with that (me included). Do realize however that you can only pick one and you will need to do so before leaving the house and starting your search.
Like the first game, Midnight Shadows also has a certain sad undertone to it. You will often find notes written by people who have supposedly succumbed to and been killed by the shadows. While it does create the feeling of a darker atmosphere, it also makes me pity the victims and even the monsters themselves. You never really see any interactions between anyone, giving you the feeling that you are the only person out there. Additionally, you will, very frequently, find severed body parts, burned corpses and blood in the middle of the street, making the game a lot gorier compared to the original Yomawari.
The graphics are pretty simple and the game itself runs pretty smoothly. The sound effects are very authentic and especially creepy when you are wearing headphones. There is no voice acting or music accompanying you in particular and the controls are very easy to handle, much like in the first game.
From my own personal view, the game turned out to be great. While it did leave me wanting a little bit more, I was more than satisfied with what the game had to offer both plot- and gameplay-wise. I think that Yomawari is recommendable to people who are looking for a simple but greatly executed horror game with good scares that don't always jump out directly in your face. Even though I do realize that I compared it to the first Yomawari game a lot since it really isn't that different in many ways, I also consider Midnight Shadows to be even better due to several new additions and I hope to see more entries in the series in the future.
8.5/10 + even darker and scarier than the first game + true to the Yomawari concept + improvement in terms of survivability and diversity
- a bit too short - could have had a potential multiplayer mode
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is available now for Playstation 4, PS Vita and Steam.