Trek To Yomi is a long-awaited indie game homage to samurai movies in side-scrolling form. Visually the game is stunning, and the story certainly has its moments, however, the combat and exploration is lacklustre and overly simple, which unfortunately doesn’t manage to retain my attention for long periods of time. While the gameplay doesn’t quite do it, the visuals and the overall presentation of the game make it a worthwhile title to try, but you’ll have to wait and see if this is enough to grab your attention for the long-haul.
Trek To Yomi is a stylish game. It’s set in a black and white world, inspired by samurai movies of the past, so much so that even the aesthetic of the old black and white film grain has been built in. The visuals aren’t the only thing that looks back to the past, the delivery of the audio is timed much like the old moves – slow and paced accordingly.
The story isn’t too surprising for the genre, it’s a revenge quest with the main protagonist having to choose between his duty, and what he wants to do. Similar to the recent Sifu you have a flashback and attack during a childhood scene, which sets up the revenge tale nicely. Trek To Yomi doesn’t stray from the script of classic samurai stories, and most big scenes can be telegraphed. However, that isn’t such a bad thing because you know exactly what you are going to get story-wise and the game delivers.
In terms of the action in the game, you’ll be wandering around taking care of enemies with your sword. Combat itself is very simple; you have a light attack, heavy attack, parry and some ranged weapons. You can unlock new attacks are you progress in the game, but these don’t take very long to get and then that’s your lot for the rest if the game. Once you have the tools to take on all the enemies, then the game tends to become overly simplistic and less challenging. On the upside, this does mean you can focus on the story element of the game.
Combat isn’t bad, it just becomes very samey and as you progress throughout the game your skills don’t really progress with you. Much of the discovery of new abilities happens early in the game, which leads to a stagnation of attention in the latter part. Combat also doesn’t reach the heights of games like Hollow Knight or Dead Cells. It’s passable, but it’s nothing you are going to write home about.
One exception to the less-than-exciting combat rule is the boss battles. Here you’ll meet a new enemy, they tend to have huge health bars and their own unique attack patterns, similar to Metroid Dread or other 2D side-scrolling action games. The bosses do force you to mix things up when it comes to attacking strategies, and also surviving, as some of the bosses are certainly no joke. As they should be, bosses account for the major roadblocks in Trek To Yomi. Unfortunately, there aren’t too many of the bosses in the game, more would have kept things feeling fresh and more challenging, but there are simply not enough of them to keep things interesting.
To pair up with the combat there is also the exploration part of the game. Unfortunately, it’s fairly slim pickings when it comes to exploration or puzzles. Solutions are fairly straightforward, and the environments don’t offer up anything new to experience, meaning the reward for exploration isn’t really there. There are some side quests too, although once again they are straightforward, simple, and similar to one another. Whereas in some games side quests take centre stage to add more to the overall story and experience of the game, here in Trek To Yomi they are just another way to spend a few minutes.
Trek To Yomi is a visually stunning game, but unfortunately, the whole experience is let down by the simple combat and the shallow exploration and side quests. If you are a fan of the samurai genre and you like side-scrolling combat games like this, then it’s worth giving it a go. On the plus side, it looks great, the story has it’s moments but I don’t think it’s got the sticking power to be a memorable entry from 2022.
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Publisher: Devolver Digital
Platforms: PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One/Series X/S, PC
Release Date: 5th May 2022