Sunday, December 3, 2023

Trek to Yomi review: Moving story cuts through weak action

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“Cutting enemies in Trek to Yomi may be reduced to science, but its story and the development of its main character is what made me want the game to its end.”


  • Surprisingly moving story

  • Beautiful pictures

  • Detailed animations


  • Stunning combat mechanics

  • Disappointing boss fights

Trip to Yomi is a bit misleading. I previewed the game this past March, trying out its first hour of gameplay. As it turns out, that’s almost a fifth of the game and it’s the least entertaining fifth at that. Trip to Yomi begins as a highly stylized action-adventure game where you deftly send bandits with your trusty katana. But that made me tired at last; enemies became nothing but obstacles, which I removed with two swift swings.

After that first hour, the game turns on. It brings players to the depths of Yomi, the land of the dead in Shinto mythology. Bandits are replaced by evil creatures, ghosts, and skeletons wearing armor. It’s the change the game needed for me to enjoy it. And then it shifted back to bandits, causing me to fight the game’s first enemies, but they’re ghosts now. That last switch made the game feel very thin.

And for what it’s worth, Trip to Yomi is, in general, a thin experience. It’s not incredibly diverse, combat is a bit dictated by the few combos that are actually worth it, and the world is basically a railroad. However, I couldn’t help but finish Trip to Yomithe journey through what is essentially Hell and enjoy the surprising choices it has offered me.

Simple and clean

Trip to Yomi‘S weirdness is evident as soon as you start the game. It is completely monochrome, and while the world is 3D, the main character, Hiroki, is usually locked to a 2D plane. The whole battle of the game is basically 2D, with enemies coming from left or right. Similarly, in combat, you cannot turn to face another direction by moving a joystick. Instead, you have to press the dedicated spin button of the game to face any enemies behind you.

Despite that furrow, Trip to YomiThe battle of is extremely simple. You can use light or heavy attacks, stop enemies or use ranged weapons. Without any health bars, I ended up figuring out exactly how many times I had to hit most enemies in order for them to come down. My approach turned the battle of the game into a science, and while more chaotic encounters forced me to improvise, most of them were simple routines. I ended up ignoring a lot of the game’s combos simply because they weren’t fast or strong enough to quickly take down an enemy.

It was really interesting to see how Hiroki changed his attitude or the position of his hands on the katana as he attacked.

That’s a bit of a shame because I missed one important part of Trip to Yomi‘s stylization: Hiroki’s moves. Whether I made a short attack that consisted of two strikes or a combo that mixed light and heavy attacks to pierce armor, each strike was presented and held just long enough to see it clearly. It was really interesting to see how Hiroki changed his attitude or the position of his hands on the katana as he attacked.

Not every part of Trip to YomiThe battle of however was so satisfying. Sometimes, things would just make sense; attacks would not connect as I expected or enemies would simply ignore them. Parade was especially capricious due to a very short period of time I had to sneak a counterattack.

Cutting an enemy when blood splashes out in Trek to Yomi.

Finishers were the same, although their importance made missing them much worse. Making a finisher restores some of Hiroki’s health, making them essential among the game’s checkpoints that would completely refresh his bar. But to plunge enemies into a stunned state where they are vulnerable to a finisher has been difficult to do constantly. Different enemies had their own amazing thresholds, so I was never able to pinpoint exactly what attacks I needed to make in order to be able to use a finisher.

That doesn’t mean I’ve always lacked health. At its normal difficulty, Trip to Yomi is a bit of a push. Its enemies are hardly a threat unless there are many of them or a mixture of varied and melee opponents. The only real challenges throughout the game are its bosses, who are too few and far to truly praise. While they are a nice change from cutting its usual villains, Trip to YomiThe bosses of are easy to find, and once you do that, they are easier to remove.

Way of the samurai

While Trip to YomiThe battle of was enough to make me push through waves of similar enemies, I was actually a little surprised to find myself interested in Hiroki and his own story. At first there is a bit of a cliché; Hiroki’s village is destroyed and he finds himself in the land of the dead, fighting through it to avenge his people and Aiko, a woman to whom he has sworn himself. But as I delved deeper into Yoki’s pits, small details of this story became mine to form.

Hiroki continues to seek revenge on the people he knew and loved, but that is the reason behind this goal that I was able to influence. Each layer of Yoki is meant to teach the samurai a lesson, as if Dante’s own descent through Hell – in addition to players deciding how Hiroki interprets those lessons and what he takes away from his interactions with the dead.

Tower threatens big over Hiroki in Trek to Yomi.

By the end of the game, players can drastically change Hiroki’s character. Regardless of whether they choose to avenge Aiko and Hiroki’s city for love, duty or pure revenge, the samurai emerges from the journey a changed man. It’s a real character progression, something that doesn’t happen too often and that I love to see. It may not be nuanced or subtle, but seeing the effects of my decisions on character makes me feel like I had more of an impact on the story.

So much more Trip to Yomithe story of and how you look at Hirkoi as a character comes out through his actual journey through the land of the dead. Spirits blame him for killing men, even if they were bandits. He is led to question his own beliefs and is constantly deceived with visions of the people he knew and the city he called home. In the middle of his journey, he wonders aloud whether every man’s journey through the land of the dead is like his or whether it was just for him, and I couldn’t help but wonder.

It may not be nuanced or subtle, but seeing the effects of my decisions on character makes me feel like I had more of an impact on the story.

Hiroki’s journey and his own ever-voiced thoughts are what really hooked me in Trip to Yomi. The more choices I made for the samurai, the more I wanted to see how he would turn out before the end of the game. It’s not something I expected from the game, and it certainly doesn’t redeem all of its negative traits, but Trip to YomiThe story of is good enough to be more than something pushing players forward.

They are similarly intriguing Trip to Yomithe visuals of. In my preview, I compared the style of the game with that of the Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. His long shots and use of elements to present emotions are still masterful, and Trip to Yomi reproduces all these features and better. Most of the shots I saw from the often fixed camera angle of the game were beautifully put together and full of emotion itself. When you couldn’t tell how Hiroki was feeling, you just had to look around him. The rain and fire provided all the context I needed.

Our capture

Trip to Yomi is not the most spectacular action-adventure game out there. Its battle is rapidly slowing down and the game’s bag of tricks is not exactly deep. Facing enemies has become a science for me, and bosses have never been a real challenge. At least the story of the game appealed to me enough to make up for what ended up being a pretty dull combat system.

Is there a better alternative?

If you’re looking for a game full of samurai action, go for 2020s Ghost of Tsushima. The PlayStation exclusive is just as beautiful as it is fun to play.

How long will it last?

Trip to Yomi it took me a little over five hours to complete. If I wanted to take every single one of the game’s collections, that time could easily grow to between six and seven hours.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Trip to Yomi may not have avant-garde combat, but it is still a beautiful game that knows how to tell an interesting story, two features that are too rare for action-adventure games.

Trip to Yomi was reviewed on a computer equipped with 16 GB of RAM, Nvidia RTX 3080, and AMD RX 5700.

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