At Gamersyde, we like original ideas, so we felt telling you a bit more about our impressions concerning Yomawari: Night Alone just before Halloween would be unexpected.
The little girl you play in Yomawari is quite the scatterbrain. Not only does she lose her dog in the middle of the night, but she also can't seem to find her big sister, who went after the little doggie. Our little adventure is then tasked to find them both, with only a torchlight and a few pebbles to help her in her endeavor. It would not be that big a deal of the Japanese town in which the frail child lives was not filled with dangerous yôkai, spirits known in the Japanese folklore which recently became popular in Level 5's pokemon-like game. Contrary to those found in Yôkai Watch though, the monsters lurking in the streets of Yomawari: Night Alone are as scary as they are deadly, killing you instantly in a splatter of blood when they reach you - which takes you back to the last checkpoint. Your job will then be to avoid them at all costs, which isn't made easy by the overall slowness of the main character, even when she runs. To make it even more complicated, the endurance meter is also limited by the presence of the ghostly creatures, forcing you to stop running regularly when they are close.
Running away may be your best option to escape, it is also possible to avoid death by tricking the monsters with a pebble (provided you found one in the environment), or simply by hiding in the bushes, or behind a notice board (whose textures are particularly blurry, even on PC). In fact, it is however quite difficult to escape from the monsters with your sole reflexes, as their behavior and movements are completely unpredictable. Instead of the old school survival horror we thought the game would be, with its classic save system requiring a coin to save your progress at the Jizô statues, Yomawari: Night Alone is really a game based on trial and error. As a result, beating it requires you to learn everything by heart, and before that to die many times over and load the previous checkpoint. That being said, all the items you collect before being killed remain in your inventory when you die, and the same goes for the things you do in the world. With its incredibly well-crafted atmosphere, we were hoping more for a sort of 2D Resident Evil, which the game is clearly not in the end.
With its spooky atmosphere deprived of music and based on sounds, with the subtle mix between kawaii and horror art styles, Yomawari: Night Alone manages to frighten more than you could think at first. The unexpected appearances of the sinister yôkai monsters will cause a few jump scares to some, but some of the magic is somehow ruined by the trial and error aspect of the game, which can make it more frustrating than scary. Those who do not mind such a mechanic will probably enjoy the experience, but if you were expecting something more in the likes of Resident Evil or Silent Hill, you might be disappointed.
On the plus side
+ Excellent atmosphere
+ The art style is both classic and original at the same time
+ Yôkai are not zombies, a welcome change
On the downside
- The trial and error aspect can be bothersome
- Limited gameplay mechanics
- The bloody game over screen is a tad too much