Yomawari: Night Alone Game Review
Yomawari: Night Alone is an adventure game about a little girl who decides to venture out into the eerie darkness to search for her loved ones as evil spirits haunt the alleyways and streets of her once-peaceful town.
One of the great things about society constantly becoming more of a cultural blend is the freedom that it has given the game designers, something that Yomawari: Night Alone is certainly a testament to as it combines ghost story elements with the sort of cutesy Chibi styling and pastel colour scheme.
Here you play an unnamed young girl who while taking her dog Poro out for a walk, she loses him followed shortly afterwards by her older sister who sets out to find Poro. Now it’s up to you to find both her missing sister and beloved dog, only to find that at night the town in which she lives is home to prowling monsters and ghosts all with a taste for little girls.
Exploring the town with only a flashlight to guide you, the main meat of the game revolves around looking for items to aid you on your quest as well as evidence as you try to find your sister and Poro. All the while you’re writing down your findings in your diary, which you can refer back to at the start of each night making the story easy to follow, even though as you play, it can feel like you’re just going from point A to point B.
Much like the equally atmospheric Outlast, this is a survival horror game with no combat. Instead you have to rely on either sneaking past enemies, using your limited sprint ability or just hiding in the bushes to avoid the numerous enemies who can all kill you with a single hit. A nice touch though is that your sprint will actually burn out quicker when you’re being chased, matching the state of panic for your character. At the same time hiding in the bushes forces you to listen to your heart pounding as the monster lurks near your hiding place which while a simple graphic effect is surprisingly effective here.
Control wise, the game is easy enough to pick up and play with many of the puzzles and situations you encounter usually involving you finding either the correct timings to avoid the ghosts or finding a certain item to progress and while the challenge is often varied enough, the lack of option for avoiding the ghosts can at time prove frustrating. To this extent it’s best to save when possible as one mistake can easily lead to being forced to play through the same section over and over again.
The character design is fantastic throughout and will certainly appeal to fans of Studio Ghibli with its colourful creations which actually make for a refreshing change from the usual gore and splatter, even though the game does give you a surprise splatter screen whenever you’re hit, giving it a secret edge. Despite looking on the surface like a cute lil’ ghost story under its cutesy Chibi style hides not only a highly atmospheric game but also a surprisingly tough gaming experience that’s as enchanting as its infuriating.