We don’t normally see many games trying to fit within the Halloween schedule these days and with the zombie genre boom dying down a little now it doesn’t seem like any game developers/publishers are too bothered. However, NIS America has seen fit to localise a title that fits right into the Halloween period with a little survival horror title in – Yomawari: Night Alone.
Yomawari opens with you in control of a little girl taking her dog out for a walk, a seemingly ordinary event that quickly takes a surprising turn. On the way home, and as if out of nowhere, the little girl’s dog, Poro, is run over by a truck leaving the girl knocked aback still holding onto the leash. Confused as to what happened you head back home where your elder sister is waiting for you. Upon seeing the empty leash she decides to head out and look for Poro while asking you to wait for her to return. Of course, time passes and she doesn’t return and as any little girl would do you head out into the night to search for them both, only the town isn’t quite how it seems.
When you finally catch up to your elder sister she’s acting slightly strange and tells you to hide in a bush and to not come out. When you do finally decide to come out your sister has disappeared leaving only a flashlight behind and so begins the main meat of the game. At this point in the game, it’s fair to say I was really intrigued by what I was getting into but little did I expect this PEGI 12 rated to make me jump out of my skin so many times within such a short time period.
Upon starting Yomawari I was immediately reminded of my time with the Corpse Party series and it plays out in a very similar fashion. As you move around the town on your search for your older sister and dog Poro you’re confronted, a lot, by various creatures, based on Japanese folklore, with the sole purpose of killing you. If you’ve played Corpse Party then be prepared to die a lot. Each creature will behave in different ways and so it’s up to you to figure out their patterns and avoid them where you can. The most effective way to avoid them is to hide in bushes and behind signs. When doing this the screen turns blacks and the creatures are then represented by blood splatters that will move around the screen giving you are a rough idea of where they are in relation to your position. This is combined with a thumping heartbeat sound that will react to the proximity of the creatures. Certain creatures also make specific sounds which can allow you to differentiate between them.
Like Corpse Party, Yomawari is set up so that in order to view everything the game has to offer you’ll need to die a lot. You can complete the game fairly quickly if you wish, a couple of hours of solid gameplay will see you to the end but by doing so you’re not getting the full experience. The game has great replay value and is an easy pick-up and play title that perfectly suits the PlayStation Vita experience. With more of an emphasis on the survival horror aspect, Yomawari has a lot within the game to explore and keep you entertained.
Visually the game is very simplistic with its old-school isometric view and little chibi characters but that’s all part of the charm. This town full of monsters, a lot of which look as awesome as they do grotesque and creepy, has a lot to explore a lot of which you might not see if you rush to the end so it’s definitely worth a couple of playthroughs. I do have one recommendation — when playing the game and that’s to play it with a good set of headphones as this game makes great use of sound. The thumping heartbeats as you move around getting ever louder when you near a monster. The tense atmosphere it creates when you’re hiding in a bush is intense. The audio is really one of the best aspects of the game and I highly recommend making the most of it with headphone whilst playing.
If you’re planning to pick up this game either physically on PlayStation or on Steam then there is some added incentive to do so. Physical Vita copies in North America and Europe will come bundled with htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary on the same cartridge and as a download code with the Limited Edition Steam version from the NIS America online store. It’s unclear as to whether htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary will be included if you the buy directly from Steam.