With Trek to Yomi, Flying Wild Hog, the studio behind the Shadow Warrior series, has a very special title in the starting blocks. At first glance it can be seen that the game is very special on a visual level and in the beta, colleague Dennis was already enthusiastic about the stylish samurai adventure.

For the release, the questions now arise whether Trek to Yomi is even more than a game of samurai film from the 50s and for whom a trip to the dark, feudal Japan is worthwhile.

This is how the film-ready action game works

We slip into the skin of the young Hiroki and start our journey in the Dojo of our Senseis Sanjuro. Soon our training will be interrupted by the alarm at the city gates. Our youthful sense of honor stops us from remaining in the training room and so we – together with Senjuro’s daughter Aiko – set off to help our teacher with the defense of the city.

In the 15 -minute gameplay video you can see the game in motion:

A short time later, after a difficult stroke of fate, there is a jump into our adulthood and a story that leads us to both secular and mythical places. We do not want to reveal more at this point, but fans of classic samurai stories and the mythology behind the title Empire Yomi get their money’s worth.

In the entire first chapter we cross our hometown, are also introduced to the most important game mechanics bit by bit and also experience our first fights. While we can move into all three dimensions depending on the current scene, the clashes always take place on two -dimensional rails, on which enemies attack us from left or right.

Mythological background: According to the kojiki, the records of mythology and early history of Japan, the place yomi is the land of the dead where the deceased dead and rotten forever. Unlike paradise or Christian hell, Yomi has a geographical entrance in our world, which – once passed – prevents a return to the realm of the living. In addition to the ashihara-no-naka-t-uni (on this side) and the TAKAMANOHARA (the high sky), Yomi is the third world that is mentioned in the shintō religion ****.

The fights in Trek to Yomi

We combine light and heavy blows using the directional left analog stick to different combos and react to different types of opponents. Some maneuvers with our Katana are effectively against heavily armored enemies, others open the opposing block. Particularly strong combos stun our counterpart, whereupon we send it directly to the hereafter with a brutal finisher and also be able to donate a little healing.

In addition, we make sure not to collect too much damage ourselves by blocking or dodging. If we block at the right moment, a parade is carried out that briefly slows down the opponent and gives us the opportunity to start strong counterattacks.

Each campaign in combat costs us perseverance, which regenerates only slowly. If we run out of breath, we crouch and are defenseless to breathe – and usually very quickly dead. In general, we do not tolerate many hits, strikes in our backs are particularly dangerous. Therefore, quick turns are just as important as rapid sword.

On the second of four levels of difficulty we have often blessed the time. Fortunately, we find small shrines at regular and short intervals, where we can save with a short prayer. As a rule, only progress of a few moments is lost.

Exploration pays off

Between the fights we explore the beautiful, quite linear sections, in which we can discover secret places and alternative ways. At the former we can find hidden upgrades for our life and endurance bars, instructions for new combat combos, as well as collectibles. In alternatives, we encounter opportunities to do upcoming opponent groups without a fight, e.g. by putting a crane down from above. Small environmental puzzles and rare escape sequences also loosen the whole thing.

Technology: We were able to test the game on the Xbox Series X and had no technical problems. The game runs smoothly at all times, the loading times are very short. In addition, we did not meet any significant bugs.

a declaration of love to old samurai cinema

The greatest strength of Trek to Yomi is undoubtedly his presentation. The coherent black and white look, the image effects, such as the noise or the artificial image defects, give the game the look of old Samurai films from the 1950s and 1960s.

The creative and partly unconventional camera settings, the great influence of rain, wind, fire, water and fog and also the cut are strongly reminiscent of the large works of the legendary director Akira Kurosawa. Together with a great lighting mood and a coherent Japanese setting (including German subtitle) , Flying Wild Hog has delivered a game here that bones atmosphere in every situation without inserted swords.

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Fights outlook

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** However, the greatest strength turns out to be the greatest weakness when playing: it is often difficult to read the fighting and keep an overview. Due to the farm of the farm, the characters often do not adequately stand out from the background. In addition, we were regularly distracted by flashing lights or objects in the foreground blocked the view of the fight.

TREK TO YOMI is a Beautiful Letdown - REVIEW (Spoiler-Free)

When it comes to exploration, it is difficult for us to see whether you get ahead in a certain point or whether the level is limited there. We also noticed that the direction control is not adapted when changing the scene. For example, if we leave a room to the left, it may be that we do not follow the original direction in the next screen, but turn off and run back again because the camera now looks completely different.

These criticisms make it clear that implementation and reaching the visual vision always seemed to be in the foreground. But there are also a few more criticisms away from it. So we could approx. Play through five to six hours Long Story with a certain combo. The combination of anesthesia and finishers simply turned out to be too strong for our feeling and made the remaining possibilities appear superfluous.

In addition, there are opponents with different weapons and armor, but the majority of them differ only marginally. The few boss fights also offer only insignificant variety in a playful way.

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