STAFF REVIEW of Trek To Yomi (Xbox One)

Thursday, May 5, 2022.
by Josh Morgan

Trek To Yomi Box art I have been a pretty big fan of the games that Devolver Digital have brought to Xbox over the last few years. The Messenger, Katana Zero, Death's Door and Carrion have been some of my favorite games on the Xbox One and Xbox Series consoles. They have a real knack for picking quirky and fun, yet deep and compelling games to publish. Even though these games are in Gamepass, I have purchased every one of them to support their efforts, and I will be doing the same for Trek to Yomi.

Trek to Yomi is a samurai game, developed by Flying Wild Hog studio, with a fixed camera that reminds me a lot of the original Resident Evil games, but without the terrible tank controls. You take control of Hiroki, a samurai in training when something terrible happens to your village and your master. What follows is a tale of honor, revenge and redemption as Hiroki fights his way out of Yomi and finds out what it is like to be a real samurai in charge of protecting his village.

If you have seen any of the trailers, then you know the graphics are the real star of the show here with its black and white color palette and film grain effect to mimic the samurai and kung fu movies of the past. The camera is set in a fixed position for every scene you enter, but the location and angle of the camera changes depending on where the action is supposed to be focused. It’s a lot like the camera in the original Resident Evil game where some scenes would have you running right to left, others left to right, and some towards and away from the camera. It’s a really neat effect and it helps guide your focus towards your goals. There were very few times that I got lost on the screen not knowing where to go, and hidden areas were easily found by exploring each path as you come across forks in the road.

Collectibles and throwable ammo that you find throughout the game are highlighted by a shimmer of light that grabs your attention. Unfortunately, these can be hard to spot sometimes due to the lack of color and other flashes happening on screen. Especially during scenes with fire in the background, I found it really hard to spot collectibles and ammo in areas where lights are shining or reflections on water were prominent. There are a handful of collectibles in each level, listed in your journal making it easy to know if you missed any so you can go back and search for your completion. Trek to Yomi relies a lot on invisible walls to guide you along the path, keeping you on the dirt walkways of the village or forest, so if you come across a wall you can break through, or a side path you can take, it usually means a hidden area that includes one of those collectibles or an upgrade jar for health or stamina.

There aren’t many different areas in the game to explore, due to the story you are usually fighting in your village or a forest of some sort, but that did not limit the developers from mixing it up throughout the four-to-five-hour campaign. Some of the best scenes were in rooms within the village itself. You’d think one room is like every other, but when Hiroki steps behind the translucent room shades that were common in Japan, you get a really cool look in the scene where all you see are the shadows of you and your enemies, much like the dojo scene in Kill Bill. Blood will spray up on the ceiling and on the floor, but it’s all seen through the translucent panels between the characters and you. It’s a very cool effect that I never grew tired of.

Combat is straightforward and very easy to learn, but also very deep with the combo system as you progress through the game. You can block and parry if you can time it right, counterattack and attack as you see openings in your enemy’s guard, but it’s all limited by your stamina. Roll around, block and swing your katana too much and you’ll deplete your stamina bar and Hiroki will hunch over and take a few deep breaths giving your enemies a few seconds to launch attacks, and that can be deadly. You can increase your stamina and health bar by finding upgrade bottles scattered throughout the areas and those are very necessary to find because at times you will be fighting four or more enemies at once and if your stamina bar has a low cap, then you are in a world of hurt.

You will unlock longer combos as the game progresses, but while most of them are easy enough to pull off, I relied heavily on a simple X,X,X,Y combo that was multiple quick slashes and ended with a heavy attack that killed most enemies. The animations of your slashes, blocks and parries are top notch and always impress with their quick fluid motions and blood sprays. Sometimes when stunning a harder enemy after a combo you can perform a stylish finishing move that usually results in a dismembered head falling to the ground. This stylish finisher also replenishes your health a bit, so it’s very useful when fighting multiple enemies.

You will encounter a good handful of enemies throughout the story and can easily distinguish them from each other giving you enough time to prepare for their attacks with the proper block, counter, parry or offensive combo. Some enemies are heavy blockers, and if you go after them with a flourish of attacks all that will result is an empty stamina bar and eventual death. But some enemies are pushovers where you can dish out some quick slashes, sending them to Yomi with ease. The common enemy that gave me the most trouble was one where they would explode with light as you were hitting them and the light would deplete your stamina bar leaving you huffing and puffing for air while you are being attacked. But once I realized what was happening I learned to stay away from their light explosion and then roll back in close for some quick hits to send them to their grave.

There were also more than a few instances of enemy AI pinning me down and repeatedly attacking fast enough that my character animation wouldn’t complete long enough for me to get a block off. This resulted in a very frustrating thirty seconds or so where I could do nothing but watch Hiroki get hit over and over until my inevitable death. This only happened a handful of times, and the replay of that encounter never had the same results twice in a row, but it was extremely frustrating when it happened. There are only a handful of bosses in the game, and even those aren’t too hard to deal with until you get to the final boss, which in my personal opinion is one of the most frustrating experiences in the game, but I will let you experience him for yourself.

The Flying Wild Hogs team brings stylish hard action in Trek to Yomi and it’s a very fun game to play through for the story and art style. You will be challenged more than a few times throughout the four-to-five-hour story, and in the end you will feel accomplished by beating it. It has its frustrating times, times that I had to set my controller down and walk away, but I always wanted to go back for more and retry the scene to move forward. It launches into Gamepass, so you really have no reason not to give it a try. I am confident you’ll like it.

**Trek To Yomi was provided by the publisher and reviewed on an Xbox Series X**

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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