Yomawari: Midnight Shadows (PS Vita) Review

By Drew Hurley 11.11.2017

Review for Yomawari: Midnight Shadows on PS Vita

Last year, Yomawari: Night Alone delivered a chilling Japanese horror experience on PlayStation Vita. Now, NIS America is bringing a fresh dose of pixel-based, isometric horror to Western territories with the release of Nippon Ichi's sequel, Midnight Shadows. It's another tale of a little Japanese girl surrounded by the terrors of Japanese Yokai; a tale of running and hiding where there's no fighting back, no winning, only surviving. After reviewing the PlayStation 4 version recently, now it's time to take on the Vita release.

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows sets the tone for what to expect immediately. Upon starting the game, a message says to turn off the lights, play in the dark, and not to look away from the screen. It wants to build an atmosphere, and it certainly works. The aesthetic is all simplistic sprites, and they look absolutely stunning, crafting a darkly macabre yet beautiful experience. The opening seems to set up the exact same scenario as the first. A little girl is walking her dog in the woods. She foolishly removes the lead and it seems that dog is fated to die; it builds and builds, and then suddenly subverts the audience's expectations completely, something this game does very well.

After this brief introduction, the true story begins. That tale once again focuses on a little girl running through the Yokai-filled streets of a quiet Japanese town - well, two little girls this time: Yui and Haru. They are off watching fireworks atop a mountain but leave it too late to come home. Suddenly the pair is separated and lost atop the mountain. Haru makes it home, Yui does not. The rest of the game is spent with the two girls trying to reunite, with each being playable here and there, the story jumping between each girl between chapters, giving a glimpse of where each girl has made it to, to try and work towards reuniting them and getting them both back home safe.

Screenshot for Yomawari: Midnight Shadows on PS Vita

The gameplay is much the same as the first, creeping through the darkness, with the choice to switch between running - which consumes a stamina bar and also makes more noise for the things that bump in the night to find the little running girl - or tiptoeing in the hopes of not being heard or seen. When not fleeing, the girls can hide behind objects in the environment, hoping the creature outside will eventually pass by. They can also throw rocks to attract the attention of whatever may be stalking them to lead it away. Little coins need to be found to be given in offering to Jizo statues to be able to save the game. All the same elements are here, but improved, for a smoother and scarier experience.

Just like with the first outing, the design choices are expertly done. The backgrounds look beautiful and the sprites are highly distinctive from them. The Yokai are a mix of the classic Japanese designs and horrendous scribbled monstrosities that fade and drift into the darkness, meaning they are often only briefly glimpsed with a flashlight, giving a constant sense of dread that they may leap out of any dark corner. While the presentation is stunning, it's the audio design that steals the show. The use of stark silence in the soundtrack greatly emphasis every creeping step - every click and breath builds a tenser and more atmospheric experience. Even more so as the heartbeat of the little girl starts to beat faster and faster as something, some nightmare made up of shadows and teeth, grows ever closer.

Screenshot for Yomawari: Midnight Shadows on PS Vita

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

There's an important distinction between fear and dread, one that often gets lost in modern horror games - a reliance on the cheap jump scare, the momentary shock instead of the fear that the player will carry with them long after the game has ended. Yomawari: Midnight Shadows delivers dread, in spades, too. While the original clocked in at only 3-4 hours, this is easily double that. A superb sequel that more than lives up to the original and a truly chilling experience that any horror game fan owes themselves to experience.

Developer

Nippon Ichi

Publisher

NIS America

Genre

Horror

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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