- Total Score - 8.2/108.2/10
Trek to Yomis’ love for the genre and cinematic ambition is its best feature and shines a light on its flaws. This is a tale of honor and blood that is worth experiencing.
Developer – Leonard Menchiari, Flying Wild Hog
Publisher – Devolver Digital
Platforms – PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, PC
When I first laid eyes on Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hogs’ vision of a bespoke Samurai experience, Trek to Yomi, I was stricken by its style. recently sat down and took a brief excursion into the lands of Yomi. A place of filled with Samurai, Death, and a lot of black and white. Here is what I discovered on my quest for revenge.
Many comparisons will be made to the work of Kurosawa, and for good reason. The atmosphere, attitude, and setting are all distinct callbacks to the legendary director and his films. However, Trek to Yomi is as much 13 Assassins as it is Seven Samurai. Most won’t make the distinction between the two films, but just like their acclaimed directors, they are very different beasts.
Seven Samurai presents a stillness to the Samurai. A calm, a sheathing of the blade before the violent but brief clash of blood. The Seven Samurai does have a distinct look, and Trek to Yomi really captures the aesthetic of that film to perfection. Whereas Ghost of Tsushima and other Samurai games will have a “filter” designed to emulate it. Trek to Yomi truly encapsulates the look and feel of Kurosawa, as its visual language has woven into the core fabric of the game’s visual design.
The identity of the core combat and flow is much more reminiscent of Takashi Miike and his style of film. Bold and bloody combat pierces through the classic stylized design to keep this title entertaining on the game front. Combat isn’t about multi hit combo attacks or air juggles, instead it focuses on one precise attack. Parry and defense matters, and death follows for each failed defensive option.
When the combat clicks, it becomes an over the top experience of one Samurai easily dispatching a much larger force. It’s style, it’s slick, and it reminds us of the cool factor a Samurai can bring to the table.
Trek to Yomi captures the contradiction between the two styles it pays homage too perfectly. The look and visual identity of Kurosawa, the violence and audacity of Miike, and truly creates a captivating gameplay dynamic.
Yomi’s story takes place over several chapters, each consisting of several individual levels. Some of these levels are presented in dynamic methods. The approach to presentation for these scenarios is a tasteful homage to the classic cinema from which their inspiration is drawn. On occasion, some of the more exotic cinematography can obscure gameplay-related moments such as combat or trying to navigate a new area.
The visual presentation is full-on classic, with film grain and noise to resemble the worn-out VCR tapes playing Samurai films on repeat. I admire the visual style but did turn off the filters to help create a cleaner image which made playing easier on the eyes.
The journey of Hiroki is a familiar one. A master, a promise, and tales of restraint and bloodshed are woven into the game’s seven chapters. The familiarity isn’t inadequate, but it makes one wonder how many stories can be told in a medium with so many classic interpretations. The supernatural elements are a nice touch, although the boss fights in these chapters are some of the more frustrating moments of the game.
Trek to Yomi features a combat system with substance but not much flash. A single sword swing can defeat most enemies. Focusing on defense and parries leads the charge in a combat engine resembling Bushido Blade. I love the system, although some animations can feel off due to input delay.
It’s an elegant system when everything is clicking, but frustrating when the camera work or delayed inputs cause a fatal blow. Thankfully this wasn’t common during my time in Yomi, but enough for me to take notice.
Trek to Yomi is a fantastic idea with good execution. It’s great to see an indie take on Samurai legend that feels like a cut above the average take on the genre.