Trek to Yomi (Review)

As many of you know from my Ghost of Tsushima and Ghostwire: Tokyo reviews, I appreciate proper Japanese world lore, classic or modern.  So, I really couldn’t resist giving Trek to Yomi a go even though it’s a 2.5D side scroller.  Does this game scratch that classic Japanese samurai era itch?


…far from the type of polished experience I expect…

Right out of the gate there are some things that are going to be off-putting to some.  For one, it’s more like a 2.75D because there are areas that give you free roam.  However, it’s unpredictable and is minorly disorienting at times.  Combat is when it forces you into 2D, and it does not necessarily get better.  In theory, it all sounds nice, but there seems to be a lack of input response that can result in missing parries unnecessarily, and combos never feel like anything other than a timed button mash.  In fact, there’s only a single combo you eventually unlock and need to learn to beat the ENTIRE REST OF THE GAME.  The rest of your time is navigating the 2.75D world, and while they do toss a few puzzles and navigational forks at you, it all starts to drag a little.  Between the unpredictable switching of 2D to 3D, to the combat that never feels smooth and visceral like being a samurai should, to the world that you only explore because you get upgrades or collectibles, the gameplay is just serviceable but far from the type of polished experience I expect from an indie game where gameplay is generally the focus.  It’s rare for me to say this but continuing onto the next section clarifies this statement: the game wore out its welcome well before it ended.


…the game wore itself out well before…

At somewhere around 5 hours, I watched the credits roll on the ending path I chose.  While there seemed to be different paths I could take, I really felt no compulsion to play it again.  That’s because, as aforementioned, the game wore itself out well before the 5-hour mark.  So, while it has moves you can unlock, collectibles you can find, and multiple endings, it’s a tough nut to swallow if you start to feel the drag the same way I did around the 2-3 hour mark.  It could have at least tried to incentivize me with a new game plus…


…framerate stutters inexplicably and frequently…

Finally, some relief.  The game does do one thing right: give you that samurai era feel.  From the choices of filters, black and white color scheme, sights, and sounds, I can’t deny it put a smile on my face how hard they tried to make this game feel like classic cinema (which oddly includes the way people are screaming!).  And then… we’re back to more bad things.  The framerate stutters inexplicably and frequently on my Xbox Series X.  In fact, most of my time the framerate was stuttering, and there’s no way this game was pushing the hardware.  When it runs smoothly, it’s great, but that’s far and few between.  I even thought it was my XSX at first, that’s how much it stutters.  Moving onto the story is also some solace, as minor as it may be.  It’s a simple samurai story that divides the player based on probably accurate era lore about the samurai code, and how flexible it really needed to be.  Perhaps this correctly speaks to why this is a bygone era.


…scratch[es] my classic Japanese samurai era itch. But just barely.

This game does, indeed, scratch my classic Japanese samurai era itch.  But just barely.  From its unpredictable movement plane swaps to its lack of combat finesse to its exploration that starts to drag, it simply wears itself out instead of ever hitting a stride.  It’s serviceable and it works, and that’s about as far as it goes for 5 hours.  Fortunately, it gives off the right samurai era vibe through great choices in sights, sounds, and filters in a black and white world, but unfortunately runs with inexplicable stuttering.  But it does serve to remind you that samurai lived by a strict code, one that sometimes did not always work out because being too rigid keeps you from adapting to reality.

I give Trek to Yomi

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