Yomawari: The Long Night Collection on the Nintendo Switch Review
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is a comprised of both titles in the franchise. Released in 2015 and 2017 respectively, these games are of the horror/walking-sim genre. In both, you’re effectively searching for someone close to you. The 1st released is titled Yomawari: Night Alone and it begins by introducing you to out protagonist, a little girl. She’s out and about for a stroll with her dog, Poro. During their walk, a pebble drops suddenly, startling the pair. Curious, she walks over towards the stone, picking it up before examining it. Upon realizing what it is, she tosses it away. Poro, however, mistakes it for a ball and as you might have guessed, he runs after it. Now, in the 2nd release, titled Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, you’ll be introduced to two little girls, one of which is named Yui. It appears she’s moving away and so you will join them on their last day together. They enjoy the fireworks together and each others company. Both games began very innocently. I thought to myself, I’m in for a relaxing and heartfelt adventure. Oh boy, how wrong and naïve I was. The situation quickly escalates on both counts. So much so, in fact, that I’d stare at screen, mouth agape, thinking “What the F…”One of the aspects of gaming that I have a love/hate relationship with are tutorials. In my opinion, there is a correct and incorrect way of implementing it. For instance, those games that’ll teleport you to an area that’s inconsequential to the story is doing it wrong. This destroys the natural flow that games want to create. In doing this, it destroys the sense of immersion because you’re immediately reminded that this is just a game. Thankfully, in the Yomiwari: The Long Night Collection, tutorials are non-intrusive. What do I mean by this, well, let me tell you. After each opening, the game allows you to push forward. However, while you do, the game introduces small speech boxes. Normally, it’s only a sentence long and gets to the point. Of course, it helps that the game itself doesn’t have too many buttons. See, the two predominant mechanics you’ll utilize are walking and running. To sprint, you simply press the R button and presto, your legs move quick. Be weary though as this does run on a stamina system. This will be shown with a handy white bar. There are also differing speeds that it’ll diminish, indicated by white balls. So, allow the line to straighten, and you’ll have a head full of steam. Alternatively, pressing the L button will let you sneak by noise sensitive creatures. It’s a mechanic that in the 1st, wasn’t really used. I never had to sneak around anything. Running though, pretty sure I ran a marathon. However, the 2nd title does make use of stealth much more effectively.I found that visually, this game was very nice. The sprites are crisp throughout and the environments are nicely done. I loved the way vending machines acted as their real-world counterparts. Everything looked and sounded authentic. The only real difference when it came to presentation was color palettes. I found that the 1st dealt with darker colours. The 2nd experimented a bit more with vibrancy. That’s not to say the creepy atmosphere was hindered because I can attest to it not being. My only gripe was with some of the designs of the creatures. I found that they weren’t as gruesome as I’d expect. These ranged from simple shadow figures to headless horses. I felt that, from a creative standpoint, it fell flat. That’s not to say that there weren’t disturbing creatures because there was. You had tadpole looking monsters to a tarantula type creature with an unsettling face. Maybe I’m the only one but I found the sudden facial movements a bit jarring. These two specially had me thinking if maybe the artists were battling a few inner…demons. You hear that? That’s NIS America rethinking their partnership with me and offering me further chances to review their games. As far as the sound design goes, it’s a mixed bag. As I already mentioned, the effects are stellar; from the vending machines to train crossings. Everything sounded authentic and aided the immersive experience. I still felt that something was missing. First, I’d like to point out that I understand the decision not to have music. To give the game that added realism, only nightly sounds were added. It made it feel like you were the little girl. My issue, however, is that the game isn’t clear on the location of the next objective. Because of this, I’d aimlessly wander for a bit. The lack of BGM made this task tedious and boring. Any adrenaline that had built up subsided. I was no longer feeling tense, and now frustrated. This worked against the horror theme of the game in my opinion. To the developer’s credit, there is a fast travel system, but with objectives being unclear, it wasn’t always beneficial.
One of the central items in both Yomawari titles is the flashlight. With this, you’ll not only be able to see the creepy ghouls, but also items on the ground. You can shut it off with “-“, but again, I didn’t really see much use for it in my playthrough. That said, say you figure a usage out. However, because the light is off, you can’t see the enemies. Well, if you look at your stamina bar, you’ll notice a big white circle. This will act like a heart. Whenever a shadowy creature is close, it’ll begin to thump. The closer it is, the faster it gets. As a bonus to being on the Nintendo Switch, the HD rumble vibrates in rhythm with it. I did, however, still find I was surprised. This was because monsters would run across the screen suddenly. Either you have quick reflexes or else, you’ll die. This happened to me quite a few times. Rest easy, my friends, because if you acquire several key items, only to be caught, you’ll keep them. This greatly decreased the chances of my Nintendo Switch learning to fly.
In conclusion, I found Yomawari: The Long Night Collection was a mixed bag. The graphics, presentation, and sound design were all superbly done. However, I felt the story in both titles were disjointed and didn’t always click with me. While overall, it made sense, I never felt engaged or curious to learn what happens next. Honestly, it felt as though I was just randomly playing through tiny events that loosely fit into one another. Because of this, I didn’t have that drive to push forward to see the pay off. Thinking back, this played a large part in why I found it tedious. I will say that as a horror, the developers did a great job with the creepy atmosphere. The absence of ambient music did harm it from reaching greater heights. You’re probably wondering, is this game worth a pick-up then. Well, if you’re a fan of this genre, then yes, I do think it’s worth experiencing. I did have an alright time with the game. Playing in complete darkness was fun. Yes, before you ask, I did jump a few times. However, if you’re neutral on these types of games, well, there’re better games available.
RECOMMENDED (FOR FANS OF THE GENRE)
Reviewed by Fernando Da Costa on the Nintendo Switch, game provided by NIS America.