Game: Yomawari: The Long Night Collection
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Age Rating: 16+ (UK & EU) | 17+ (US)
Regular Price: £35.99 | €39,99| $39.99
Release Date: 26th October 2018 (UK & EU)
(Available via eShop and as a physical copy – prices may vary)
Review Code kindly provided by NIS America
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection includes two games in one: Yomawari: Night Alone as well as Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. Both games were previously released on PSVita and Steam, while surprisingly only Midnight Shadows was released on PS4.
What was that?!
The night holds many mysteries, with bone chilling sounds and spirits hiding in the darkness; perhaps it’s not the best idea to venture out alone…
Yomawari: Night Alone – A young girl loses her dog and her sister suddenly goes missing. Venturing out alone at night is never a good idea; but she must find her loved ones!
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows – After enjoying a firework festival together, friends Yui and Haru begin to head home; only to have a horrifying experience that gets them separated – not good!
Gameplay & Controls
Yomawari is a top down horror game, with plenty of dark, creepy spirits to encounter and puzzle elements to keep you busy. It’s time to get those running shoes and thinking caps on!
The game is a psychological horror game, with its atmosphere and bizarre happenings that unnerve the player; making you question whether you really know what is going on, and whether you should run for dear life, or cower behind a bush hoping for your heart to stop pounding – always love a game that can keep me guessing.
In both Night Alone and Midnight Shadows, the girls are unable to use a weapon to defeat hostiles; you can distract some spirits with certain items, but most the time you are defenseless and running around with just a torch to help you see – where are the Ghostbusters when you need them? 😮
Listen to your heart!
One of the main mechanics of Yomawari is the character(s) heart beating; go near a spirit and the character’s heart begins to beat. The closer they are to a spirit; the faster and stronger the beats become.
Also, while hiding you can’t see the spirits, you just have the beating sound of the girl’s heart and red pulsating mist moving on screen to indicate where the spirit is. It’s an interesting aspect that makes the game more engaging; making the player feel more like they are experiencing what the character is going through – if the girl can’t see the spirits while hiding, then why should you? 😛
Get those thinking caps on!
The puzzle element of Yomawari is trying to work out how to get past a spirit safely. Some spirits react to the torch light, others react upon seeing you, while some are simply road blocks that can catch you by surprise if you aren’t careful. You can avoid the majority, but often enough there are ones where you really are running away seeking a hiding place, then waiting it out til they move on – patience is needed!
There are significant segments where hiding or running away certainly doesn’t help. In such situations you must learn the pattern of the spirit in order to progress and calm them by carrying out a task of some sort – thankfully it isn’t too difficult to figure out what to do (but you will likely die a few times).
Items, items, everywhere…
Although there are plenty of items to find in Yomawari, only a few of them can be thrown to distract a spirit; the majority are extras with various descriptions to make the world feel a little more alive (even though you don’t actually see living people). The written notes in particular add another layer of creepiness – some of the things they say are hints, but the way they are worded makes the weird happenings feel more widespread, and not isolated to the main character.
As in most games; there are key items which are necessary to progress through the game. Overlooking a key item will result in being stuck until you happen to stumble upon them, or you search every millimetre of an area – it’s never fun when you miss a key item without realising it!
Although the game properly saves once a chapter is completed, there are temporary save points around for you to activate with coins that you find – allowing you to return to that point if you end up dying (very handy).
Needing an item to save reminded me of ink ribbons in the old Resident Evil games. The difference being; there were limited ink ribbons in the Resi games (making you be more careful when saving), while coins are easy to come by in Yomawari.
Unfortunately there is no multiplayer option, which is always a shame with a game like Yomawari, as experiencing it with a friend would of been great fun! While I say that, nothing beats playing a horror game in the dark, alone and with earphones in to get a real sense of the horror the character is experiencing.
Many elements are present in both Yomawari games, but there are a number of gameplay differences in Midnight Shadows (besides the spirits) that changes the game up a bit: the player controls Haru and Yui (alternating with each segment completed), there are more dangerous spirits around (some of which appear pretty suddenly) and you can also obtain charms that grant benefits (making certain aspects a little easier). The map is also larger and it is a longer game in general; there is more happening and more content to sink into with Midnight Shadows when compared to Night Alone.
Night Alone has a slightly different atmosphere to it; you feel more alone due to there being less activity around, the pacing is more easy going and you have less jump scares. Also, you tend to have a better idea of what has happened and what is going on, more than the main character seems to – which makes her situation seem even more sad than if she fully understood everything that was going on. But there are moments too that make you stop suddenly because it’s a “what the fudge sticks just happened?!” kind of moment.
Graphics, Designs & Sound
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is brilliantly creepy and dark, while the cuteness of the main characters stops the game(s) from feeling too negative – it’s a nice contrast and a good combination that keeps it feeling a little more balanced and enjoyable.
The style and designs of the spirits I found interesting; plenty of details to make certain ones feel more creepy and unnerving, some just oddly obscure and other worldly, while others lack refinement, giving them an edgy and more manic appearance – it’s a great mix I think.
The absence of sound really helps add to the tension; any of the sound effects and noises you do hear, stand out all the more! It’s brilliant and makes for a really eerie atmosphere.
Yomawari has a certain bluntness to it that I haven’t seen much in games. It’s not one filled with feel-good factors and it doesn’t shy away from unfortunate happenings taking place – which makes it a little more true to life in some weird way. Most games are more about having the player feel like they are achieving something and being rewarded for it; Yomawari (metaphorically) slaps you in the face, doesn’t apologise for it, then gives you a small gift that leaves you wondering whether the gift is something good, or something to be wary of. It is a bit of an oddity to say the least!
The regular price for Night Alone on Steam is £14.99, while Midnight Shadows is £29.99. I do feel they are a little pricey (considering the length of play time and the amount of content they offer). I think the £35.99 price tag on the Long Night Collection on Switch is better, but some may feel like there should be more to the game(s) for that price – keep an eye out for sales; it was £26.99 not long ago!
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection brings together two great horror experiences; I enjoyed both games a lot, but for slightly different reasons. The pacing of Night Alone is gentler; which makes it a nice introduction to the games. While Midnight Shadows had a lot more going on and kept me on my toes more. Also, I loved the cuteness of the characters, with their ribbons bobbing as they walked and their little expressions when certain things happened, as well as their diary entries after each chapter – it’s the little details that make games extra special.
In both games I loved the atmosphere; the lack of background music makes it all the more eerie, heightening your reactions when something makes a sound, and when something suddenly appears it’s all the more surprising. Not knowing when or where a spirit would appear and if they were hostile or not, really kept me guessing. It resulted in moments where my curiosity got the better of me, only to then be running away desperate to find a hiding place – it was brilliant fun! 😛
I really enjoyed roaming round the town and experiencing all sorts of weirdness, while also unraveling the mystery of where Poro and the sister had gone. I think the biggest shock I had though was actually at the beginning, and without giving too much away; it certainly makes you think twice about throwing a rock! That scene really set the tone for the entire game and I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the girl and her dog because of it.
It felt more of a well-rounded horror experience. The beginning wasn’t quite as shocking as Night Alone’s (it created more questions than anything), but there was more depth to the gameplay, more variety of spirits, and many were less predictable in terms of when they would appear/what they would do. Controlling two different characters also differentiated the game quite a bit from it’s predecessor, and added a bit more variety to the gameplay. The addition of charms added an element of customisation; it’s always nice to be able to change things up a bit.
I do question the purpose of the coins, as they are so easy to come by. Initially I thought “I best be careful when I use these coins or I may run out when I really need one” but then quickly realised how easy it was to find them – now I rarely have less than 8. If there was an option to have less of them around to make it more difficult, then that would have been good.
Another downside of sorts, was the distance of a save point in relation to where you may die in certain segments. It makes you be more cautious, and gets you to stop and think a bit more before the next attempt, but I can see it frustrating some players (especially if they end up dying a lot). The distance might spoil the flow and the enjoyment of the game for some – which would be a great shame.
Would I recommend Yomawari: The Long Night Collection?
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is a brilliant survival horror and I certainly hope for another Yomawari! Would I recommend it to all lovers of the horror genre? Probably not.
If you prefer your horror games to have plenty of gory action; Yomawari is not the game for you.
If you are more for the atmosphere, searching for items and solving puzzles; I certainly recommend Yomawari! 😀