From Ghost of Tsushima to Sekiro, samurai is currently on the rise. And it’s not the Flying Wild Hog developers who will say the opposite. After a series of games more in the ninja vein (Shadow Warrior), the Polish studio, led by Leonard Menchiari, decided to take a step back to take us to Japan during the Edo period. And the least we can say is that the Flying Wild Hog proposal, validated by Devolver, is more than atypical.
- Ghost of Tsushima in the mood
- A work of art à la Kurosawa
- Sifu among the samurai?
Rich in the teachings of his sensei, young Hiroki has the necessary strength to protect his village. A clear path, dictated by the codes of bushidō and hagakure, which will nevertheless shake life’s misfortunes. The way of the samurai is not always easy to follow. Besides life and death, Hiroki will have to choose whether he really wants to borrow it or get rid of it. It’s therefore an introspective story that Flying Wild Hog and Devolver offer us, all punctuated by katana duels and shots worthy of Kurosawa’s best films.
Ghost of Tsushima in the mood
Head to Yomi largely falls into the box of “atmosphere games”† Whether it’s the haunting soundtrack or the story, Devolver’s game takes you by the hand and takes you on a real trek (or rather a short hike given its length). The title, as exotic as possible, has its own atmosphere and manages to convey it very well, especially thanks to the small stages of exploration. Between gravity and mysticism, we are quickly caught up in the Trek to Yomi spiral, which prompts us to question ourselves and make decisive choices.
Hiroki’s path is yours too, so of course it’s up to you to decide which one to take. Depending on the choice you make, the end of your adventure will not be the same. However, the differences are limited to the ending movie and some dialogues, change Trek’s conclusion to Yomi, but not the experience itself. We would have liked to see more and experience the consequences of the chosen path. Keep in mind though that it won’t cost you much to see the different possible endings. Since the title is short (already four hours for a first volume by exploring a bit), it only takes two short hours to flip through it in a straight line. So, in less than ten hours, you can easily satisfy your curiosity and discover all that Trek to Yomi has to offer.
But for most players, one game might be enough.Between revenge, love and honor, Hiroki’s epic recalls that of Jin Sakai and many others. In short, nothing new in the samurai. The main lines are quite predictable and have a bitter taste of deja vu. But Trek to Yomi still manages to stand out by finally offering us a dive into the heart of Shinto mythology.
The journey to Yomi (the world of the dead) isn’t just about the crooks who succumbed to Hiroki’s knife. To find his way, he will land these rotten and the… shikome tormented people who populate it. By making this choice, Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hog invite us to discover a little-known part of Japanese folklore and it’s to their credit. The latter is also particularly well-detailed thanks to the various artifacts you can pick up during your journey. This approach makes Trek to Yomi a curious game, and all the more so when you consider its primary purpose.
A work of art à la Kurosawa
Some will no doubt have noticed, Trek to Yomi is primarily an almost cinematic experience, a tribute to the films of the Japanese director Akira Kurosawa in particular. By choosing black-and-white and different camera images, the title comes into its own wonderfully well and he manages to surprise us with the realization right up to the end. The paintings follow each other and are not the same. Despite dated graphics during cutscenes, the title manages to impose an atypical artistic touch that hits the mark in the game.
Moreover, this particular attention to the visuals does not affect the gameplay in any way. The angle changes, while regular, are fluid and play intelligently on the latter. Trek to Yomi thus goes from horizontal scrolling for the combat to a slightly more open 3D for the exploration phases. This snack works especially in the game and offers us a coherent and pleasant display everywhere.
By playing with the decorations and in particular the effects of light, certain paintings in particular stand out. Best of all, they give several battle scenes an epic feel that will make you want to immerse yourself in them. With this masterful artistic direction, Trek to Yomi has found its greatest strength. However, there is still a risk of some players being banned, especially those put off by the use of black and white and old-fashioned graphics. From this point of view, Trek to Yomi has an artistic side to it, but what about the gameplay itself?
Sifu among the samurai?
If you are already informed about the exploration phases (optional but interesting), most of Trek to Yomi is the same to beat your opponents with katana blows. After taking your first steps in the martial arts thanks to your sensei, you are thrown into the lion’s den where various enemies are looking for only one thing: to let you enter the world of Yomi. But there is nothing to tremble for them.
Despite what some people thought, Trek to Yomi is not a SIFU samurai version. The combat mechanics and enemy patterns are quite simple and never push you to the limit. Once you know them, you’re unlikely to get into real trouble. Plus, artificial intelligence isn’t helping things. For example, some enemies just wait in a corner before looping on you without an ounce of strategy. You can sometimes even dodge the fight and get rid of some enemies by using the scenery (a pretty interesting point by the way).
Unlike most games of the genre, the difficulty is therefore not really gradual. A fact wanted by Leonard Menchiari, intended to emphasize the moments of great tension. But now these are few and far between, as they are limited to one or two powerful boss fights. If the satisfaction of defeating an enemy never really fades, it’s more thanks the theatricalization of the act and the beautifully executed choreography of the fights than the difficulty of implementation. Without these we would almost get tired of duels or waves of enemies around us.
And yet Flying Wild Hog made the effort to offer us evolving game. During your journey, you pick up new weapons and learn new combat techniques. Unfortunately, if some have style, others are too risky or redundant, sometimes nearly impossible to place between the enemy’s blows. In order to progress without too many pitfalls, it is ultimately better to limit yourself to hitting the same two keys in the same order. Besides a moment of bewilderment, the only chance your opponents have to survive is to rely on the few bugs (on the controller) that leave you immobile despite your instructions.
Whether you’re in easy, normal or hard mode, nothing changes, you just have to repeat the action for a shorter or longer time. The three game modes only affect the enemies’ lives and the power of their blows. So it is more time consuming than difficult to beat your attackers with the right technique. Only real challenge: The fashion In an attempt which, as the name suggests, causes you to start over at the last checkpoint on the least hit.
- Artistically successful…
- A Dive Into Shinto Mythology
- Beautifully choreographed fights…
- Paintings by Kurosawa. to be worthy
- …despite dated graphics
- unnecessary choices
- little effort
- …but way too repetitive
Trek to Yomi is a very beautiful cinematographic work. He doesn’t have to pale in front of the giants who inspired him. His use of the camera and black and white grain enable him to present us particularly lavish paintings. Add to that some dazzling fight choreography and you’ve got a little nugget of artistic mastery. If a game were rated by this, Trek to Yomi would undoubtedly top the charts. But unfortunately the game is under-pushed in terms of gameplay in comparison. His redundant choices and his repetitive battles keep him from expressing his full potential. That said, it’s still worth the detour and even more so if you’re sensitive to this kind of video game work.
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