When a visually ultra-stylish game is announced under the banner of Devolver, it is difficult to remain unmoved. During its presentation, Trek To Yomi clearly made people want to. The idea of a man, Leonard Menchiari, to make a game in homage to the works of Akira Kurosawa, a great Japanese filmmaker of his time. Opting for a rendering close to Japanese cinema of the 1950s and promising some pretty katana fights, nothing less was needed to raise the hype and the experience was set to be memorable. Too bad that finally, once the pad in hand, this is not the case.
Beautiful like a 60s jidaigeki
Trek To Yomi immerses us in the middle of the Edo period, and before the narration begins, what strikes from the outset (just like during its trailers) is the artistic direction. Those who know a little Japanese dramas from the 50s to the 70s will quickly make the connection: Trek To Yomi marries an all-black and white visual reinforced by a thick grain and a very successful film effect. Needless to say, we are in the middle of a samurai film.
And from this point of view, the app clearly does not disappoint. End to end, the art direction is a total success. Some shots are even particularly stunning for those who love genre cinema. And while Flying Wild Hog tends to pull the same strings to flatter the retina, it works. The environments follow one another and are almost never alikeand, as a bonus, they are full of details.
Artistically, it’s a master class
But all is not rosy for all that since, technically speaking, Trek To Yomi treats much less. We will find in particular not folichonnes textures, even in 4K, and especially lazy animations which are not fluid. Moreover, when the camera gets too close to the characters, during cutscenes for example, we see poor modeling and not very expressive faces.
Fortunately, the camera is relatively far from the protagonists most of the time and ultimately brings out the artistic aspect more than the technique a bit disappointing.
Despite its technical weaknesses, Trek To Yomi is frankly a delight for the retinasTo not say a master class, and the fact that the software is entirely in black and white adds a layer of dramaturgy. So much the better, since the scenario devilishly needs it. And, if we wanted to be really incisive, we would even go so far as to say that Trek to Yomi entirely depends only on its visuals.
A cinematographic aspect assumed from start to finish
A very smooth frame
Yes I know it’s a bit of a cold shower said like that, but let me explain why Trek To Yomi misses the perfect game train. Already because of its narration which, however, had, here too, everything to please. The game launches on the basis of a story of revenge and pride, where we embody Hiroki, a hero who, as a young man, made a promise to his dying sensei, that of always protecting his village. native. A terrible attack follows which will reduce his hamlet to ashes and will force him to leave to settle his accounts. A journey strewn with corpses that will even take on a fantastic dimension and mythological on its last third. The concern is that thewe have absolutely no empathy for the protagonistsall far too smooth, and as a bonus, the software absolutely does not take the time to stage them, while he is able to lay very soft cutscenes for us as a transition, from one end of the level to the other for example, where absolutely nothing happens. All that to say that the studio had the means to share the time on the screen much better, in particular to deepen its story, even if it means creating lengths like the cinema of yesteryear, as long as they serve the plot. Ultimately, the story follows without difficulty, of course, but we don’t really care about the stakes and we will even tend to find it sometimes long. The irony is that the game ends in less than 6 hours.
And, this is a real disappointment, especially since the atmosphere is there and the voice cast, entirely Japanese, has enough to sell dreams with for example Masayuki Katou, Hiroshi Shirokuma or Hiroki Goto to name a few. Leonard Menchiari has surrounded himself with veterans of the industry, having worked as voice actors on anime, films and video games like Metal Gear or Resident Evil. The latter are also very convincing, but unfortunately, too little used to be significant.. In addition to lacking in staging, Trek To Yomi has a hard time captivating and keeping players in suspense, in particular because of a much too smooth writing which is satisfied with the bare minimum. We will note despite everything a handful of choices during the adventure which, apart from vaguely changing the events of the cutscene just after, does not impact much except the end. And even though Trek To Yomi offers 4 different endings, the path will remain the same overall, going hand in hand with the linearity of the level design.
Trek To Yomi has a hard time captivating and keeping players in suspense
The samurai with a wooden katana
The idea of Leonard Menchiari was crystal clear: make Trek To Yomi a game-film rooted in the cinema of the time. And, we have seen, visually, it’s totally successful, where narratively it lacks material. Nevertheless, the man knows his subject and has assumed it to the end, since you can feel it right up to the controller. All in 2.5, the software offers us neither more nor less to follow a marked path by decimating all the threats that will stand in our way. We will obviously have the right, from time to time, to take hidden paths to get our hands on collectibles or secondary and dispensable skills, but that’s about it. Yes, it may seem a bit disappointingand it is, but it is here the will of the creator. That of offering a “one shot” adventure to go through without hesitation, like a feature film. Besides, I would even tend to advise you to do it as such, without having fun going back and forth to look for collectibles. Save that for a second part. To reinforce this feeling moreover, Menchiari has chosen not to chapter his game. The loading times are few and ultimately only sign a change of act or scene. Where it will not necessarily please is that if you have the soul of a completist, then you will have to retype the entire game.
Gameplay that is sorely lacking in potato and depth
Trek To Yomi is a very accessible software, not to say easy at all
The advantage is that the software is short. As said above, it takes between 5 and 7 hours to complete it depending on the difficulty chosen. We’re not going to lie to you, to have a little bit of a challenge you will have to automatically opt for the difficult mode, otherwise you will quickly roll over your opponents. Note also that an ultimate difficulty unlocks once the game is finished for the first time. The latter will represent the biggest challenge of the software since each blow will kill you instantly.
Globally, Trek To Yomi is a very accessible software, not to say easy at all. Where we would have seen precise, deep gameplay, à la Sifu or à la Sekiro (without necessarily having the same difficulty), Trek To Yomi offers us a two-button imitation action game, where you don’t have to finally pay attention to your guard (ultra-permissive) and a barely penalizing endurance gauge. For the rest, we will distribute combos that get longer as you unlock skills (by simply advancing in the game). In addition, checkpoints, here sanctuaries, are very numerous, as are collectibles that increase your lives or your endurance. In short, Trek To Yomi is indeed consumed in one go without forcing too much, since neither the enemies nor the levels, nor even the bosses, will pose a real problem in normal mode (or lower obviously). In hard or master mode, it’s already more interesting insofar as your opponents’ moves really hurt, but their pattern will still be just as basic.
The progression is not very exciting, except for the eyes obviously
This is also a problem here, since not content with being all cloned, the enemies always do, or almost, the same thing. There may be different ones (swordsman, archer, rifleman, spearman…) it does not prevent thatthey are all stupid as can be and always hammer the same blows, making your counterattacks much easier. As a bonus, you will never have more than two enemies to face at the same time since even if they often appear in groups of 4 or 5, the fights only take place in 2D and your blows will only hit one. opponent. Result, apart from having a guy in front of you and one in the back, you will never feel oppressed. However, there was material there too to offer dynamic combat. There are even sequences where the adversaries arrive in groups of ten and surround you, except that they wait very wisely for their turn by remaining off-screen.
Result, Trek to Yomi quickly becomes repetitive and even boring. Between shallow gameplay, straight-line level design and the lack of depth, dynamism and impact of combat, the progression is not very exciting, except for the eyes obviously.
This is all the more true since, if thehe fixed camera has fun playing with the framing, sometimes offering very nice sequences, it often repeats the same shots and never emphasizes the visceral aspect of the confrontations, preferring to play the playwright throughout by abusing the cinematographic gimmicks of the time. Finally, the OST will not help us to keep an eye open either since, even if it is faultless, it mainly plays finesse and discretion if it is not absent, leaving some ambient noise to take over. In the end, it is too little present to be memorable and make an impression.