[Review] Yomawari: Night Alone - a cute, yet scary horror game
An 11 year old girl takes her dog Poro for a walk when suddenly she loses sight of him due to a tragic accident. She is forced to go back home with just his leash in her hand. When she arrives late at night, her big sister decides to look for the dog by herself but does not return. Now it is up to the little girl, controlled by the player, to start searching for both her dog and her sister.
Yomawari: Night Alone is a survival horror game made by Nippon Ichi Software who already brought us great works like “The Witch and the Hundred Knight” and the “Disgaea” series. The art style is simple and yet the threatening atmosphere, accompanied by amazing sound effects, will never fail to make you shiver. A lot of the game’s key elements and monsters you will have to face are inspired by japanese ghost stories.
As you make your way through the creepy streets and alleyways at night, you will often hear the little girl’s heart beat which indicates that there are monsters (which will kill you in an instant) nearby. Your flashlight will reveal these and in order to advance, you have to evade them. There are a few possibilites to dodge so, e.g. throwing a pebble to distract them and creating an opening for yourself. If there are too many monsters surrounding you, you can use bushes to hide in and wait until they leave again. Every monster has its own movement speed and depending on how fast they are, you might have to run away so it is important for you to not waste any stamina.
Despite the horror aspects the game has to offer, it will also play with your emotions a lot. Even the tutorial will leave you heartbroken already. As you further progress through the disastrous story, you might start sympathizing with the monsters which are doing their best to catch you as well, trying to understand why they are haunting you and how they came into existence in the first place.
While the game itself only takes about 6 hours to finish, you can find lots of hidden objects, events and missions as you roam the town. There are no complicated controls and the isometric perspective often gives you a clear view on your surroundings and where you are.
Overall I give the game 8 out of 10 stars for a short yet great and emotional plot, easy-to-learn controls and an experience with a frightening atmosphere.
Yomawari: Night Alone is out on Oct 25 for North America and Oct 28 for Europe on both PC and Playstation Vita with support for Playstation TV. Physical copies for PS Vita will come with the game Firefly’s Diary included on the same cartridge while you get a download code for it if you buy the Collector’s Edition on Steam.