In this era of big budget AAA games with huge, deep worlds and complex game systems, it’s rare to find a game based purely on style, Many seem to be choosing to fill their worlds with enormous, detailed gameplay systems that seem out of place in their massive worlds rather than choosing a style and innovating on it.
Trek To Yomi is one of those rare examples of a game that doesn’t seek just to draw its audiences into a long, drawn out story that goes on for hours, and delivers a tight, focused campaign that suffices perfectly to show off the game’s stylistic roots. Oh, and it’s also one of the most beautiful games I’ve ever played.
Trek To Yomi is an ode to Japanese cinema. Its beautiful, detailed world that seeks to dazzle and immerse you rather than swamp you is the perfect backdrop to its traditional Samurai story. The eye candy is more engaging than any large open world could be, and that’s all down to the presentation.
Trek To Yomi is set in black and white, and while it’s a 2D action game by gameplay, the world gives off an ancient, lived-in feel that really adds to the immersion while you play. Its scenes are set in a beautiful Japanese village, with the early game being set to stunning backdrops of fields and village markets. It’s in the mid to late stages of the game though, where the real beauty comes through. Flaming villages and duels set against lightning strikes, collapsing buildings and running through a field of flaming arrows.
Trek To Yomi really is an absolute masterclass when it comes to style, and the real treasure is in the detail. The backgrounds of every scene in Trek To Yomi are incredibly detailed, with every scene and area being impeccably decorated and masterfully rendered in glorious black and white. The deep blacks and bright whites actually really add to the feel of Trek To Yomi, as it even further enhances the old grainy film aesthetics and the “colour” clearly present in the world. When such a detailed world is rendered in various shades of black and white, it really allows the imagination to create a palette of colours that we feel suits the game.
Talking of aesthetics, the old film feel of Trek To Yomi is at the forefront of the experience. The game is set with a slightly thinner aspect ratio, giving the game the same aspect ratio as, say, a film. There’s also a constant heavy film grain effect. Film grain is one thing that can really grate on the experience of modern games, as their graphical style is hyper realistic and film grain usually ruins or impacts hugely on them. Here however, the film grain is used to great effect, and it never gets in the way or spoils any key moments. It’s used so effectively that it actually becomes part of the game, and covers up some of the game’s weaker graphical elements, such as slightly waxy facial animations.
Honestly, I could go on about the looks of this game for hours and hours, it’s just that good, but after the honeymoon phase we must all move past the surface level and see the game for all of its aspects. This is a shame, because if the entire game was as impressive as the visuals, I’d be more than happy to rate it five stars. Unfortunately, it’s just a little shallow in some ways.
Starting with the combat, exploration and puzzles, Trek To Yomi is actually quite a barebones game. The combat is fun to begin with, and difficult to get to grips with when you start to learn how it works. Being a 2D action game benefits it in many ways, but it does restrict the combat to being one dimensional. After you’ve got the basics down, there’s really not much out there besides bosses that will kill you, unless you rush.
Trek To Yomi’s combat system is very reaction based, all parties and blocks and counter attacks, and this works for the most part. There are very few scenarios, however, that when you attack first, the enemy will not fall. One combo is generally all it takes to bring down the vast majority of enemies in this game. This adds to the realism, however it definitely leaves a slightly shallow, easy taste to the combat of this game. It’s a small gripe, as the rest of the game is just so good, that you won’t want to miss out on it just because the combat is a little shallow.
The story component isn’t quite as important as it is in some. Very rarely do I run into a game where it’s possible to justify a download just to see it, but Trek To Yomi fits this bill. Its story may not be the deepest or most nuanced, but it’s enough to fill the short space of time that Trek To Yomi will take you to complete. The game is roughly five hours long, so it doesn’t have to include an enormously deep epic tale; just enough to keep you going as you experience everything the game has to offer. I actually think a lot of games could learn a lot from Trek To Yomi (looking at you, Dying Light 2), as story really isn’t everything in your game, it only becomes more important when the game itself is so immensely long and stuffed with content that story is needed to fill the gaps.
Trek To Yomi is in that perfect space of being story based while also innovating so much on its style and graphical prowess that the story ceases to be as important as it would need to be for an enormous thirty hour open world experience.
Overall, and even more so since Trek To Yomi is available on Game Pass on day one, I would say it’s worth downloading this game just to experience it. It’s just such a joy to load in and see the old movie style presentation and the music. It’s brilliant to duel an opponent in the flickering flames of a flaming pagoda, and most of all it’s incredible just to be immersed in this truly unique experience. Trek To Yomi takes some gambles stylistically, but every last one of these pays off, and as a complete package, it’s a truly amazing game to take in. It’s worth a download, even if you don’t have Game Pass, just to see it.
Perhaps it’s a little short, and maybe the combat is a little one dimensional, but Trek To Yomi is a game that stands out from the crowd, and that’s becoming all the rarer in 2022.
Trek to Yomi should be downloaded from the Xbox Store