Yomawari: Midnight Shadows
By Saki Diaz | 06 Jan 2018
A horror game under the guise of a 'cute game', Yomawari: Midnight Shadows returns with a haunting story. Keeping players on the edge of their seat while the creep factor remains throughout the game. The gameís atmosphere rivals the first game, with darker spirits lurking in the shadows. This survival horror game is one of a kind and deserves a spot on a players collection.
Two Girls Lost in the Darkness
Just like the first game, Yomawari: Night Alone, Yomawari Midnight Shadows is set in a small Japanese town where two girls, Yui and Haru, live. One night, Yui and Haru set off to watch a show of fireworks. On the return home though, the girls are suddenly attacked by a mysterious attacker separating the two. The game is then a journey to find each other, as the girls face dark and nightmarish spirits rising from the shadows.
The player takes turns taking control of both Yui and Haru. Each girl has the same ability to hide and to run, but what changes is the atmosphere for each girl. Yui is in the darker side of town, forced to go against tougher spirits that are scarier, and even more dangerous. Haruís version of the town resembles the first game. A creepy atmosphere, but itís a clash of the human world and the spirit world joining together. Each action done with one girl will affect the other.
Secrets of the town begin to unravel. As well as the truth behind the girl's existence mixing with these dangerous spirits forming. Every action the player does with one girl affects the other girl. If a player isnít careful, Haru might cross a bridge she isnít supposed to cross and could lead Yui deeper into the darker side of her town.
Hide and Run
Similar to the first game, the girls have no means of defending themselves. The girls can gather rocks to use as distractions, but they have no effect on the spirits. The girls only way of survival is to hide or run. Running is a great way to get around the town faster. The walking speed from the first game was a bit of a hassle to handle, luckily, it's greatly improved in Yomawari Midnight Shadows. Running, however, is not the best way to handle things.
Each of the girls have stamina, with the standard bar appearing when you run. Itís there that players can tell how long they can run. When there are no enemies, the girls can run with bar decreasing at a steady pace. However, when enemies are near, the heartbeat of the girls will begin to increase causing stamina to go down faster. Players who are not careful can misjudge when they should run and be caught by an enemy. Hiding spaces can be very scarce if a player isnít careful.
The girls are able to hide in bushes and behind signs. Similar to the mechanics of the first game, players will transition to a black screen except for the image of the bush or sign they hide behind. As the dark spirits pass, a heartbeat and a flashing red orb will appear representing the spirits. As they monitor and patrol, players have to time their escape right to run to safety.
Treasure Hunter and Collector
The previous instalment of Yomawari had players collecting items. Unfortunately, most items were just small paragraphs to explain the spirits while also adding to cool collectables. Yomawari: Midnight Shadows introduces charms and wearable items. These items wonít appear on the girls, but they do act as buffs. Some serve as extra stamina, others serve as a way to hold extra items. These charms add an extra incentive to really look for items.
Diary pages are also an incentive. As a way to recap previous chapters while also adding insight on both girls journey. Yomawari heavily focuses on exploration, but beware: many spirits who are around at night are the most dangerous. Players can come across manhole covers that can house a spirit waiting to grab their ankles, while long unlit paths can lead to an uneasy feeling. Thankfully, there are many ways to save in the game, using the Jinzo shrines. These shrines are in almost every corner, offering quick ways to transport to areas. Activating them requires the use of coins. These coins can be found in vending machines as well on glinting items on the streets.
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a beautiful game that players wonít be able to look away from. The beautiful art style from the first game returns with more creepy and horrifically beautiful spirit designs. The game resembles Indie classics like Fran Bow while also sticking to the creepy atmosphere. The game heavily relies on jump scares, especially when the game doesnít let up on its creepy atmosphere. However, it doesnít stop the feeling that something is always lurking, and will appear at any moment. I felt there were many improvements from the first game, and improved greatly in its approach to the story. This is one horror game players shouldnít miss out on.