Yomawari: Midnight Shadows PS4 Review

November 13, 2017 by  
Filed under PS4, Reviews & Features, PlayStation

Publisher: Nippon Ichi Software  Developer: Nippon Ichi Software  

Genre: Psychological Horror  Players: 1  Age Rating: 12+  

Other console/handheld formats: N/A

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a psychological horror game in which you play as two friends, one of whom has gone missing and the other tasked with finding them. You play as both Yui and Haru, Yui being the one that has vanished, but for most of the game you’ll be playing as Haru, who tries to find her friend.

You get to explore different locations, where many spooky happenings take place.

Both girls live in a small town where spooky happenings take place at night. The game is very atmospheric, with scares aplenty as you wander around, the heartbeat sound effect rising as you near something lurking in the night. The girls’ small town is thriving with ghosts of all natures, with their one goal being to stop you in your tracks.

A gimmick of the game is that not all ghosts can be seen with the naked eye, and both girls carry a torch, the light of which will expose some of the more invisible monstrosities. Your goal is to avoid as many ghosts as possible whilst trying to progress the mystery of what is happening, and you can do this by hiding behind objects, such as bushes, boxes and billboards, and waiting for the red flashing of your enemy to disappear.

Despite the scares, the art style has a very cute quality to it; the characters look very cartoonish against the realistic dark backgrounds, and it all adds to the fact that the main characters are nothing more than infant school-age children, two innocent children lurking about in a very dark, uncertain world.

The perspective is shown top-down, peering onto a normal-looking town that is anything but during the night. You’ll come across noticeboards and posters that reflect the normality of daytime, though the deserted streets of the evening help give the world a sense of loneliness as the girls explore.

The town you explore is very generous, with events happening in numerous places. Haru will explore old abandoned buildings, endangering her own life for her friend, numerous areas opening up to you as the story progresses.

There’s an assortment of creepy ghosts and ghouls. You’ll see some more often than others, though they are all creepy.

As you explore, you can find coins, paper planes and rocks that can be thrown at ghosts to deter them. Paper planes will distract easily impressed ghosts and the coins are used for saving the game at telephones and ‘jizo statues’, these shrines also acting as fast travel.

As well as these items, you can also find collectables and puzzle pieces, and upgrades of sorts, that will increase certain abilities, such as your running speed, which is probably the most valuable of all of the upgrades you find, as you’ll be running away quite a bit!

The ghosts that haunt the town are very varied, though despite this not many have different effects or attacks on your characters. If they see you, they will give chase, and if they catch you some will latch on to you, trying to drain the life out of you, and others can be deterred with the light of your torch so that you can make an escape, but it is probably best to try and avoid any enemy, as the majority do cause instant death.

Upon first playing the game, the scares are fun as you are absorbed into the cute yet haunting world. Nobody likes cheap jump scares and that’s all they are to begin with, ghosts popping out of nowhere accompanied by a loud sound that causes you a slight jolt. However, after a while jump scares become minimal, the focus then being on building tension as you near an enemy and wonder whether you’ll escape its clutches. Unfortunately this doesn’t come with the payoff of a good scare, so gameplay does become a little bit predictable and repetitive: sense a ghost, avoid, sense a ghost, avoid, wash, rinse and repeat. It gets the adrenaline pumping as you try to escape, though a few more jump scares wouldn’t have gone amiss, mixing up the scare-factor slightly.

The town is very vast, with lots to see and do – and run away from!

That’s not to say Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is any less fun to play, as the game does have substance with a story that pulls you in and keeps you playing; you want to know what is happening and that in itself compels you to continue onward. While exploring the town can become a bit monotonous, gameplay is mixed up when entering the various buildings and locations, with all kinds of surreal haunting’s happening, and even a few boss fights sprinkled in for good measure.

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a fun game, managing to keep you on tenterhooks, despite it’s eventual predictability. As with any of these types of games, it’s the mystery that will keep you playing, though perhaps the ending will be just as predicable as the gameplay for some. Still, exploring is enjoyable enough and with the variety of ghosts, you never truly know what is going to come at you next, and the design of the ghosts manages to keep encounters fresh.