Nippon Ichi Software has done a fantastic job of supporting the Nintendo Switch so far, and Yomawari: The Long Night Collection arrives just in time for Halloween! Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is a bundle of Yomawari: Night Alone & Midnight Shadows.
Yomawari Night Alone starts with the unnamed playable young girl taking her dog Poro out for a walk. A terrible accident occurs and she realises that her pet has gone missing. Her big sister goes out looking for Poro after making you promise to stay at home and wait for her. After a while, with no sign of her sister returning you decided to head out and find both of them. It turns out the world outside is populated by various different types of spirits who all seem to be out to get you!
Along your quest to find your beloved dog (& sister!) you will soon be armed only with a flashlight and that is pretty much all the game will give you to aid you on your way. There will be a few items like rocks you can throw at spirits but, they do not do an awful lot. One of the first things that you will notice upon loading the game is the art style is really striking, the character sprites are cutesy chibi styled and the main areas of the game are really dark and foreboding. It makes for a nice contrast and also is a great way to show the innocence of the main character.
How does it play?
As you wander around the town looking for clues you won’t have any weapons to fight off the evil spirits. An awful lot of enemies are not even visible unless in the cone of your flashlight. This creates a feeling of helplessness, especially as you also have to deal with a stamina system. In Night Alone you will notice that there is no music at all. All you will hear is ambient sounds, the gentle buzz of a vending machine and your own footsteps. This really adds to the eerie atmosphere of the game. When an enemy is nearby you will start to hear your heartbeat, this is quite unnerving especially as the enemy would be right behind you out of your flashlights view! Once your heart rate gets going in the game your stamina gets depleted rapidly making escape much trickier!
Throughout Night Alone I got caught out on many occasions while trying to sneak past a group of spirits! When you have to manoeuvre around an enemy it almost becomes a type of puzzle trying to figure out how close you can come to the enemy without it killing you and all they while trying not to run out of stamina. You can hide in bushes or behind billboards until the monsters go away thankfully and these are littered throughout the town. And believe me, the sense of relief you will get from these moments of respite feels well needed and helps to cut the tension somewhat!
As you make your way around town you fill out your own crayon styled map, This coupled with the unsettling ambient music reminded me more of a Silent Hill game than a cutesy isometric horror game. Around town, you visit numerous interconnected areas including Shrines, Woods, Factories, a shopping centre, a school and of course a graveyard. Progression is natural for the most part, I did, however, get a little confused as what to do on occasion but, further exploration of the map was usually all that was needed. This did add to the general feeling of being alone and only added to the immersion. There are stone statues that you can make an offering of some yen to. These statues act as a quick save, you also have the ability to warp between them which becomes invaluable as your progress through the game.
The problem & main feature of these stone statues is that if you die you are immediately sent back to the last one. In the Yomawari series, every enemy will one hit kill you! You won’t lose any items collected such as keys etc but, I found myself using this to cheat the system a bit. I could run into an area overrun with spirits knowing that I could die as soon as I picked up the item I needed. It was faster than walking all the way back after all! I can completely understand why Nippon Ichi Software programmed the game this way, I would have been pulling my hair out otherwise on some sections.
Is it good?
Overall Yomawari Night alone will take the average player around about 6 hours. The game is not overly difficult but, does provide a fair challenge. From a completion point of view, there is a lot of items and puzzle pieces to collect which could easily add a good few hours onto your play through. Personally, I don’t really go for full completion unless the game has an achievement system but, sadly this is something missing here. If you have never played either of the Yomawari games then the version on this collection is probably the best place to start. The game is an awful lot of fun and you can cut the tension with a knife!
Yomawari Midnight Shadows
Midnight Shadows starts with Yui and Haru returning home from a fireworks festival in the mountains. Along the way, the two girls end up separated and you will play as both to hopefully reunite them. I won’t spoil anything from the story but Midnight Shadows takes around 8 hours to complete the main story but, would be much longer for people who enjoy item collection. I will say however, I think the story here is much better than Night alone.
The gameplay is pretty much identical to Yomawari Night Alone apart from the character swapping aspect. You spend more time with Haru than Yui but this is a good thing as Haru is the one who has the flashlight and map! Midnight Shadows is a vast Improvement on the Night alone in almost every way. It has taken Night alone as a base and added more to it in a way that does not detract anything set up in the first game.
A new place to explore
The town is much bigger and is still as unnerving to explore as Night alone was. Midnight Shadows uses what worked from the first game to creates the same feeling of hopelessness and loneliness. With the town being bigger, Midnight Shadows gave me the same issue I had with Night alone. I got lost, Often. Still, the town was still a lot of fun to explore and the beautifully drawn sprites really add to the overall aesthetic, even some of the monster are adorable in their own kind of way.
There’s a lot more enemy types in Midnight Shadows and even the inclusion of boss type enemies. The boss fights remind me of classic boss fights from say Megaman or even Dark Souls, they are just about learning the correct patterns. The enemy design, like the first game, pulls heavily from Japanese urban legends and mythology. Enemies are varied and an awful lot of them are faster than Yui and Haru! Also the heart rate & Stamina mechanic remains the same, ensuring at least a few deaths from mismanagement of stamina.
Is Yomawari Midnight Shadows any good?
If you like the first game on the collection then you will love Yomawari Midnight Shadows. Everything from the first game is enhanced and visually it looks even more striking than the Night Alone. The story may not be as emotional or subtle as the first game but, overall I think Midnight Shadows does a slightly better job with its storytelling.
Should I buy Yomawari: The Long Night Collection?
Yes! but, this will depend on if you can stomach horror & tension. Personally, I highly recommend the collection as a whole. Both games are great at what they do, and that is creating an atmosphere. Both games run incredibly well on the Switch & I found playing in handheld mode with headphones in is a must! Just be sure to play in the dark!
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection releases for Nintendo Switch on the 26th October here in Europe & the 30th in the USA.
You can purchase Yomawari: The Long Night collection here!
Disclaimer: Nintendo Switch review code was supplied by NIS America