Yomawari: Lost in the Dark (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Albert Lichi 07.06.2023

Review for Yomawari: Lost in the Dark on Nintendo Switch

The Yomawari titles are a series of horror games that focus on the feeling of being a kid in a familiar setting that has become hostile. Everyone had a moment in their childhood when they looked outside of their window late at night. A kid's imagination might run wild, pondering what might be out there. Maybe some dared to venture out into the neighbourhood and what was mundane became uncanny and unsettling. Yomawari: Lost in the Dark is the third entry in this series that continues to explore this complex feeling that is somewhere between nostalgia and dread.

Like prior entries, Yomawari: Lost in the Dark is an overhead point-of-view adventure game. Players are tasked with exploring a vast town and its amenities, finding key items and trying to avoid getting killed by the marauding spirits. Yomawari is always set in a rural town, there is no combat, and the protagonist is always a female child.

In Lost in the Dark, the developers decided to let the player customise their avatar, but it is still a female child. Her name can be anything, but her clothing and hair options are limited. There could have been a bit more to choose from and why the avatar can't be a male is questionable.

Flashlights and tip-toeing are still a crucial element when navigating the area, and running still consumes stamina. Mechanically, Yomawari: Lost in the Dark is almost exactly like its predecessors. The new additions come in the form of the protagonist being able to cover her eyes. New ghosts react to eye contact, and going completely blind will make it so that gamers will have to rely on sound to avoid death.

Screenshot for Yomawari: Lost in the Dark on Nintendo Switch

This new addition is utterly nerve-wracking and the sound cue is a percussive instrument that sounds like a beating heart. It gets faster the closer the protagonist is to a threat. While eyes are covered, the foes resemble a vague red cloud. If it was just the sound, this might have been too difficult, but the visual cue is appreciated.

The trade-off to the insta-kill enemies is that the player-character respawns at the last Jizo statue they saved at (which rely on single-use coins) and all progress is retained. Dying almost becomes an alternative means of fast travel. Not losing any progress is intended to keep the player as immersed in the dense atmosphere as possible.

Yomawari: Lost in the Dark looks just as good as its precursors and the sound design transports the user to a palpable sense of place. The chirping cicadas and panicked, cawing crows give an impression of a very relatable time for a lot of Japanese people who grew up in a similar town.

Screenshot for Yomawari: Lost in the Dark on Nintendo Switch

The most notable change to the formula is that Lost in the Dark has a time limit mechanic. The story revolves around the protagonist being cursed and having to find a way to break it before 6am. The thing is, the clue to figuring out how to break the curse is tied to her memories. The entire game's open structure relies on exploring and finding objects that will trigger flashbacks. Sometimes the items will lead her to another crucial object that will get her closer to the secret of the curse. This is probably why the game is so lenient on consequences: time is limited and the town is big. Even with fast travel, traversing the alleyways and backyards can take a bit of time, especially when having to blindly sneak past a yokai.

Despite having a time limit, Yomawari: Lost in the Dark is generous. There are not that many items to collect and the map system shows areas that have already been explored. Fast-traveling between Jizo statues makes it easy to get around to clear up areas that need exploring.

The only aspect of Lost in the Dark that holds it back is something that holds back all the Yomawari games: the unbelievably slow moving cutscenes and dialogue. Whenever characters are interacting in a scene, everyone takes a long time to do an action. The sequences are overly drawn out with lengthy pauses and slow characters. They can't be skipped at all, and even when mashing through the text as fast as possible, the text is still slow enough to be able to be read at a normal rate. This has been an issue in every single entry.

Screenshot for Yomawari: Lost in the Dark on Nintendo Switch

The graphics have not changed at all since 2015. Lost in the Dark still relies on the same illustrated and cute art style that was established in the first game. The animation quality has been consistent and the art itself is very readable and appealing. If all three games were put side by side, nobody would know that they were different games. While it is appreciated that the games have been very consistent in quality, it does come off as cheap that Lost in the Dark borders on being too much of the same thing. Yomawari: Midnight Shadows was a major improvement over the barebones first. It added charms that let users modify stats and had proper dungeons.

With Yomawari: Lost in the Dark, anyone who wanted more of the same is going to be happy. The new additions and gimmicks don't feel like real steps forward and the entire experience seems like it should have been a DLC expansion. There needed to be some spirit of innovation, but as it stands, this is a very simple franchise and getting stale is inevitable when there are no bold steps forward or aren't any risks.

Screenshot for Yomawari: Lost in the Dark on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

Yomawari: Lost in the Dark is more of the same. The custom avatar was an almost meaningless addition and it plays itself extremely safe. Fortunately, those who are looking to play an atmospheric and moody horror game will find that this latest entry is just as scary as the rest. There are some choice jump moments and the ambiance keeps players in a constant state of dread and unease.


Nippon Ichi


NIS America





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

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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