Trek to Yomi Review (PS5) – Trek, meaning arduous journey and Yomi, meaning ‘land of the dead’ is a very fitting title for developers Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hog’s stylish title.
Published by Devolver Digital, Trek to Yomi is a monotone, cinematic adventure set in feudal Japan with gripping visuals and an ever-evolving combat system. From the moment I saw the trailer I knew Trek to Yomi would be something extremely distinctive.
You play a swordsman called Hiroki who after watching his Sensei die, vows to protect his town and all the people he holds dear against various threats, both natural and unnatural.
In a one-man mission, Hiroki must cut through swathes of enemies and avenge his master against the forces of evil. Unfortunately. Things don’t turn out for the best and Hiroki ends up on a journey like no other.
Trek to Yomi Review (PS5) – Distilled and Direct
Striking and Satisfying
While the narrative in Trek to Yomi is a basic one, paired with an unbelievable presentation style, authentic sound work and atmosphere, it winds up as something quite extraordinary amongst other games in the market today.
The whole game feels like an old samurai movie and the visuals and audio really do hammer home that style with aplomb. Trek to Yomi is striking from both a gameplay and presentation perspective and that is a rare thing these days.
In its simplest form Trek to Yomi is a 2D sidescrolling combat game, however, describing it like that does it no justice at all as what it does, it does exceptionally.
Combat starts off as a very simple affair, it then evolves to be a very nuanced katana-based dance littered with parries, dodges and ranged weapons. You discover new techniques and combos in hidden areas or by talking to NPCs.
The combat system blooms over the course of the game into something simple, yet with a plethora of options at your fingertips.
During melee combat, you have a light attack, heavy attack and numerous mixings of the two. You have a parry and block which work exactly as you expect.
The peculiar thing that feels different to combat systems like this is you press X to change which way you are facing. This needs mastering, especially early on in large groups of enemies as you can get hit from behind if you are not paying attention.
You unlock combos and techniques later on that makes it easier to manage but it is a system that takes a little adjusting to.
The combat and small areas of the game have sprinklings of Ghost of Tsushima and Dark Souls. From the one-on-one standoffs to shrines that give you all your health back. I enjoyed the gameplay loop a lot.
Trying to get from one shrine to the next was a rewarding experience, but also throw into that equation ways to recover health from parries and finishers and you have a rich yet direct gameplay loop that’s both rewarding and never overwhelming.
I enjoyed the length of Trek to Yomi a lot, there is something to be said these days about bloat and needless padding.
Trek To Yomi is cut down to what is needed, it’s about five or six hours long, is quite linear and I think any longer, the combat may have started to become stale.
There are a few offshoots to explore and different ways to interact with the environment but all in all this game is precise and direct, which was something I really enjoyed about it.
Light, Rewarding Exploration
Scattered through your perilous journey are upgrades and new ranged weapons to find. I only really started using ranged weapons towards the end of the game because I kept forgetting about them. It was not until I got to a certain boss where I needed them did I really start to experiment with them.
Ammo is quite abundant and in the right circumstances, they work a treat.
Some simple exploration rewards you with stamina upgrades, health upgrades, ammo amount upgrades and collectables if you meander slightly off the beaten path. The game’s linear nature though makes finding all these simple.
I missed very few collectables on my first playthrough which is a rare thing indeed, a welcome one though.
After the combat system, the next thing that makes Trek to Yomi shine is its presentation. The film grain, the lack of colour and the way each scene has a different perspective is captivating to the eye.
Blurred objects move in front of the camera and the numerous camera positions make each scene feel different and for a two-dimensional game, make it feel broader than it actually is. It’s creative and extremely cinematic.
From a PlayStation 5 feature perspective, I did not notice too much. There was a small implementation of adaptive triggers for the ranged weapons but on the whole, especially the DualSense features were rarely used.
I would have liked a bit more use of the haptics to make the battles feel more immersive so I could feel every kill through my hands.
A Visual Feast That Respects Your Time And Effort
Trek to Yomi was both beautiful and enjoyable to play. It was a perfect length, any longer and it could have felt a bit repetitious. It had just the right amount of exploration and it never outstays its welcome.
The combat system, while being simple, gives you a lot of combos to master and different ways to slice up your foes. It rewards parrying and finishers with health regain, which was a nice touch and gave the gameplay loop a nice flow.
If you are in the mood for an atmospheric 2D samurai game, with a unique visual style you can complete in a few sittings, I wholly recommend Trek to Yomi. It runs beautifully and respects your time which are two things I wish more games did.
We all have less and less time for gaming these days and experiences like this are truly welcome. Trek to Yomi gets eight and a half katanas out of ten from me!
Trek To Yomi releases May 5, 2022 for PS5 and PS4.
Review code generously provided by publisher.