Thanks to the joint efforts of developer Leonard Menchiari and Flying Wild Hog Rzeszów, What was once a 2,000-word text has turned into a voyage of a brave but wounded samurai, in a true playable homage to Japanese cinema of the 1950s and 1960s. In our Trek to Yomi preview, we had already revealed the advantages of the art direction but at the same time said we were curious to test the game’s fun and depth along Hiroki’s entire story, which we’ve now tested in total. After battling countless enemies in a mixture of fervor and discipline, we are finally ready to hide the katana in the saya and tell you what we think of this experience between the world of the living and the afterlife.
The burden of unbearable promise
The journey into my day begins with a painful memory, when Hiroki – Aiko’s husband and village ruler – was just a young disciple of Sanjuro, an affectionate teacher and father to his sweetheart. Hastily summoned to face an unexpected situation, Sensei orders him to stay in the dojo with Eiko but the two refuse to know and run to his aid. As he crossed the village, the young man saw the laughter that refreshed the streets giving way to heartbreaking tears, fire and death, which had fallen upon the peaceful community by order of a ruthless warlord. Having made his first life with a katana, he comes into the presence of the villain Kagerou and is only saved thanks to the intervention of Sanjuro.
After ending the enemy’s life, Sensei asks the student to keep Aiko and her people safe and then he dies. Returning with his mind to the affairs of the present, upon completion of an introductory chapter which so well reveals the basics of the combat system, adult Hiroki discusses with Ikko the suffering inflicted on the inhabitants of the neighboring lands by a group of crooks and, intending to keep his faith in the promise he made to the master years ago, decides to leave To suppress the threat before he could knock on the gates of his village. Thus begins the perilous mission of the samurai, determined to meet the ghost of the past and follow in his footsteps, to the darkest places in the land of the dead..
This lively and real but also internal conflict – as it is closely linked to the duties of a man and a Hiroki warrior – was judiciously orchestrated by Menchiari and the developers, who certainly showed that they wanted to build events with a keen passion for mid-20th century Japanese cinema. In short, although its effects were somewhat predictable, Trek to Yomi’s plot fits right in with the fun and stylistic type of experience, as well as its subjects. Although the characters are not distinguished by originality, they benefit from excellent dubbing in Japanese, signed by exceptional translators such as Akio Otsuka.
Without ever wanting to spoil the surprises, know that the adventure can end in different ways – depending on the choice made at a particular point in the journey – which is why it is unfortunate that the possibility of unlocking the set of chapters is not included at the end of the first round. To complete Hiroki’s journey with due attention, including searching for collectibles and upgrades, takes about 7 hours but the truth is that Trek to Yomi doesn’t have the numbers to push players to fully restore the exploits of the warrior.
A while ago, we mentioned classic must-collect artifacts, which we had so much fun looking at in every chapter and not by chance. Flying over those connected to the hero’s past – at the heart of an attempt at ecological narrative that wasn’t really successful – we found the others very interesting, Because they are closely related to Japanese folklore and mythology.
For exploration and puzzles
While venturing into swampy and ghostly scenarios – where the winds blow water towards an unreal sky – or in settlements set ablaze by the ferocity of ruthless men, the samurai can come across not only ammo to collect but also to improve health or energy and even new attack combos. The use of static and dynamic cameras but in very large environments, in fact, should not deceive: Secrets abound in the journey into my day, and it is not uncommon for progress on the “path” of the two dimensions to make way for the third.. Basically, Hiroki can find secondary paths, enter huts out of sight and go into dark valleys, to discover secrets about the game world and become an increasingly lethal warrior.
Among other things, there is no shortage of rescues of defenseless people and a whole chain of small businesses Which, once completed, allows him to learn more offensive or defensive moves. All of these ideas certainly kept our interest level high but at the same time highlighted some of the less happy options. Forming levels for example Doesn’t help understanding major and minor pathways, with the latter not frequently confused and vice versa. These omissions run the risk of losing some objects, because the written events sometimes block the path you came from, and because – if you hit one of the altars used to save the game – Not even reloading checkpoints can solve the problem.
about it, The Land of the Dead gave developers the opportunity to introduce simple environmental puzzles, often associated with an entry in a wheel of specific symbols to search for under scenarios. In general, none of the proposed puzzles really aspired to embarrass the fighter, but at least managed to give him a breather before he had another battle with the spirits of samurai and the gruesome afflicted that inhabit Yume.
A reaper of men and demons
Then we talk about combat, in which he sees a warrior using the real tools of death used by those who crossed the landscapes of ancient Japan. From Bo-shuriken to Ozutsu – hand cannon used in the 16th century – Hiroki’s weapons are perfectly in line with the historical fidelity that Al Minshari wanted It proved useful in weakening larger groups of enemies. Its effectiveness in battle is inversely proportional to the practicality of use, with the cannon doing high damage for example but in the face of longer reload times. Anyway, the real star of the party is clearly Katana, which is at the heart of a combat system that’s not too deep but not so annoying.
Based on power bar management which, if reset, causes a temporary stress state in which Hiroki is particularly vulnerable to enemy attack, Sword dances summon the player to execute combos with precision, keys are pressed according to the actual implementation of on-screen movements and not all at once. Sometimes duels feature some basic fortitude but on the other hand, the protagonist rips opponents out of life thanks to the grace of a true samurai and reliable moves, thus far from Hollywood exaggerations.
Light and heavy attacks, the dribbling system and parry form the basis of the list of moves that is growing more and more, to include slashes related to the directional keys and above all stun combos. The latter is the most effective of all, because once it hits the mark, it allows Hiroki to perform amazing endings, filled with distortion and the inevitable rush of blood.
When the villain’s existence ends in this way, the protagonist regains a partial dose of health and here the inevitable consequences of this choice appear. In fact, stun combos end up making other moves pretty obsolete, which takes down enemies without taking the endings and consequent health recovery.
This drawback becomes more noticeable on the hard difficulty (Ronin) but fades with the level of challenge obtainable at the end of the first round (Kensei), which applies the one hit, one kill rule. The minions, swordsmen and simple spirits that the village protector encounters on his way can have a hard time, sometimes because they are tougher than usual and on other occasions for specific combat skills. Among the users of the Naginata and the inhabitants of Yomi, sometimes disguised in a protective aura and able, for one thing, to summon mortal subjects, The developers have come up with a good variety of opponents, including bosses that they are happy to face and are not always easy to defeat..
black and white japan
The settings and graphics are often, at best, a wonderful backdrop to a narrative chain of events, but in the case of Trek to Yomi, the opposite is true: the artistic direction, the style of the shots, and the stylistic choices are all, perhaps the beating heart of an experience bursting with love for Japanese culture and a historical era of art VII.
Thanks to the skillful use of static and dynamic cameras, who know how to stay on the character and show – through depth of field – the union between violence committed by men and the constant beauty of the natural element, Exploring the retro-colored scenarios of the Flying Wild Hog title is a real treat for eyes and ears.
Enriched with the support of historians and material collected at the Edo Museum in Tokyo, insiders have given us glimpses of real life in villages, towering spiers lit by a ghostly full moon and places strewn with heaps of skulls, in a meeting of myth and reality marked by great provocative force and very elegant contrasts of light and shade. for these reasons, It happened a few times that we stopped a Hiroki race to give ourselves a chance to meditate and make an impression on the places we were visiting..
We don’t want to tell you more about this world of black and white adorned with a nice grainy effect, because it’s fitting for you to discover it. If we talk about just the graphic details and expression of the characters, then Trek to Yomi’s blade is not sharp but on the other hand we are talking about a small production and it makes no sense to make these flaws too heavy. On the other hand, during the flight we experienced the PlayStation 5 at 4K at 60fps, there were some scenes based on heavy use of particle effects, which we liked more than expected. Fly over anything but the ultimate use of DualSense features, whose adaptive triggers can still be exploited in specific situations, We can only spend words of praise to accompany the soundwhich in addition to being orchestrated by a composer with samurai ancestors – as featured in the context of our interview with the creator of Trek to Yomi – was created in the name of historical fidelity, in favor of voices able to pursue succession with punctuality and give a more distinct touch to adventure.