Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
Trek to Yomi by Flying Wild Hog and Leonard Menchiari is an artistically beautiful side-scrolling action-adventure game set during a turbulent time in a fictionalized Japan. Every new screen you visit is an artistic masterpiece that warrants smashing that screenshot button with jarring regularity. The beauty of Trek to Yomi is perfectly framed by the game’s composer, Cody Matthew Johnson taking a more haunting approach with its music. Tie that to the black and white aesthetic and it absolutely screams “classic samurai film,” a sentiment that I wholeheartedly stand behind but where Trek to Yomi stumbles though, is in the poor execution of combat.
Trek to Yomi is a bit of an interesting beast- visually stunning in its classic use of black and white cinematography and is aurally enchanting in that haunting-kind-of-way. The combination of the eerily beautiful audio and the fixed camera angle ensures we only see and hear exactly what the developers and artists want us to see. That can be a powerful mix and it’s that very mix that is evident throughout Trek to Yomi; every shot is essentially perfectly curated with a complimentary soundtrack.
While creative artistry and overly-designed (in a good way) visuals are important to a good title, especially one that will inevitably draw some comparisons in setting, style, and overarching themes to Sucker Punch Productions’ near-perfect, classic samurai media-influenced, and jaw-droppingly-gorgeous, Ghost of Tsushima; these two titles are wildly different from one another.
Ghost of Tsushima, a 90+ hour epic set in a massive, thriving world with a brilliantly designed main story, and exceptionally well-written side stories (I refuse to call them “missions” or “quests” because they are just so much more) that have set the bar so incredibly high that few games will match it. Trek to Yomi on the other hand is a relatively short (beatable in a about 4-5 hours if you struggle with the combat* the way I did) side-scrolling, action game that takes place in a relatively small but stunning environment that is only enhanced by the black-and-white color palette that Flying Wild Hogs went with.
Now, many of you may be scratching your head about drawing that comparison- I admit, at first glance, it seems rather silly to compare the two. However, as you peel away the difference in combat and world design (linear vs. open-world), both titles are clear love letters to samurai films of yesteryear like Kurosawa Akira’s spin on Shakespeare’s King Lear with 1985’s epic, Ran or through their clear focus on setting a scene and letting it quietly carry the gravitas that oozes out of both titles’ very makeup.
Toss in there the main story being about a man on the search for vengeance and… these titles could almost be twins; now, would I claim that Trek to Yomi is better? If you like side-scrollers it is, but it’s silly to grade those two games against one another, it’s just that throughout the relatively short campaign, I could not help but feel the same weight and heavy atmosphere that both games exhibit.
Though its combat at the time of this writing is frustrating, Flying Wild Hog have come out and publicly stated that they are hoping to push out a patch in short order that addresses many of the issues with combat (as well as a number of other issues, some console-related, some not). At the time of this writing, though, combat was still in a sorry state and that really puts a sour taste in my mouth. With luck, their upcoming patch will address these concerns, though a part of me does wish these struggles were caught (and addressed) in their QA process. Let’s be real, though- it’s relatively rare to see a title drop without some sort of chonky bugs to deal with.
Trek to Yomi is an enjoyable, heavy, and atmospheric side-scroller whose presentation along can place it with the greats by way of Flying Wild Hog titles that’s hampered by poor combat. The engrossing story, immersive and highly cinematic presentation, and an excellent score are all indicators of greatness and Trek to Yomi seems to be on its way to being one of 2022’s best Indie titles; only time will tell.Score: 7 / 10