The Yomawari games have always intrigued me. I mean, I’m a big fan of horror games anyway, but they did something genuinely different by mixing together an almost cutesy look with a horrific narrative and tense survival-horror gameplay. It’s not a combination you’d expect to work, but hey, it did and the titles earned a lot of fans in the process.
Finally, Nintendo Switch owners can get their hands on both games, with Yomawari: The Long Night Collection putting both ‘Night Alone’ and ‘Midnight Shadows’ together in one neat (and very spooky) package. Whether playing on the go in the palm of your hands or alone at home on a dark night, Yomawari: The Long Night Collection offers more than enough scares to keep up with the most terrifying of horror titles – even if it might not look it would at first glance.
Both games start innocently enough, with the player put in situations that despite being a little eerie feel pretty normal. Both times though, they’ve ended up taking shock turns that’ll completely catch you off guard. I don’t want to spoil anything here because they’re moments that you need to see yourself in-game, but it sets a very dark tone immediately. From there, you’ll be tasked with either finding your sister or friend depending upon which game you play, with both following similar narratives. The gameplay elements remain the same in both, though: you explore a dark town all whilst avoiding the ghastly monsters that are found lurking around every corner.
The exploration mechanics themselves are pretty simple, with the player just exploring the town and slowly seeing new areas open up to them. You’ll have a map that acts as a reference point, whilst specific landmarks are noted down for you – you’ll just have to figure out the route there. Unfortunately, this route will also be full of different monsters, though Yomawari: The Long Night Collection doesn’t feature combat so you’ll instead have to either avoid them, hide from them, or simply run for your life.
Fortunately, you can distract some monsters with various items in your inventory whilst some will simply be kept at bay thanks to the brightness of your torch. There are plenty of hiding spots to use to your advantage too, so you’ll never really find yourself stuck in a corner with nowhere to go. When you do hide, you can’t actually see your surroundings – instead, the game zooms into your hiding spot and has a noise indicator that shows just how close any stalking enemies might be. It adds a neat twist to the ‘hide and seek’ element that’s so common in horror titles, with the fear of the unknown ramping up the tension.
That’s one thing that Yomawari: The Long Night Collection isn’t lacking in, mind. It’s certainly incredible tense sneaking around the town and avoiding enemies, whilst actually getting caught by them made me jump on more than a few occasions. The monsters are a bizarre bunch too, with each one’s design being based upon a mixture of Japanese myths and creatures. I’ve seen some strange monsters in my time playing video games, but some of Yomawari: The Long Night Collection’s certainly rank high as far as grossness goes.
The puzzles, traps, and boss encounters also add to the tension, especially in ‘Midnight Shadows’ where they feel a bit more fleshed out. The way that your stamina works is interesting too, with the game essentially feeling more difficult if your character becomes more afraid thanks to the fact that their stamina will decrease. It means that you’ve got to be wary for their well-being and avoid troubling situations, which isn’t always easy but certainly encourages you to play in a more cautious way. It won’t be for everyone, but I was certainly a fan.
Whilst the games are tense though, each one adopts an approach that involves a lot of trial-and-error. Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is tough and you’re going to need patience to survive, especially since you never quite know where an enemy is and you often have to essentially sacrifice yourself just to learn for your next attempt – there are one-hit kills too, so there’s no second chance if any enemy gets you in their grips. Pathways are often blocked off and sometimes you won’t know where you need to go, so there’ll be plenty of moments where you’re simply testing the water and failing quite often in the process.
The problem is, the checkpoints in the games can be a little unforgiving, meaning you’ll have a bit of a trek to get back to the area in which you died… only to die again. There are Jizo Statues around which can be used as save points at the price of one coin (think something like the ink ribbons in Resident Evil), but there’s no denying that the trial-and-error approach can make for some frustrating moments.
One thing that needs mentioning outside of the gameplay is Yomawari: The Long Night Collection’s presentation. At first glance you’d never think you’re playing a horror game thanks to the cutesy look of everything, but it ends up working so well and sets up a chilling atmosphere thanks to the sheer variety of monsters you encounter, the haunting locales you visit, and the impressive sound design which focuses more on the things that go ‘bump in the night’ as opposed to an eerie score. It certainly steps away from the conventional as far as horror video games are concerned, yet everything about Yomawari: The Long Night Collection comes together to make for a truly creepy and atmospheric experience. It’s definitely something I want to see a lot more from in the genre in the future.
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Publisher: NIS America
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch