Welcome to This Is Not A Review. In these articles we discuss general impressions, ideas and thoughts on any given game, but as the title implies, it’s not a review. Instead, it’s an exercise in offering a quick recommendation (or dismissal) after spending enough time to grasp the ideas and gameplay of a thing without necessarily playing it from A to Z.
The subject of this installment: Yomawari: Night Alone by Nippon Ichi, available on Vita.
So you’re a little girl walking your dog on a lonely road, alone, at night. The dog gets run over – not really a spoiler, it happens in the first 60 seconds of the game – and you stagger home.
Your sister asks where the dog is, you sort of mumble something, and then she goes off to look for the dog that you full well know is deceased. Why do you not say anything? I dunno.
In any case, of course your sister goes missing, and… yeah, you see where this is going. Thus begins Yomawari: Night Alone.
I’ve gotta be honest here, this game kept putting me to sleep. Like, literally. The premise is pretty uninspired and playing is equally dull. Once past the intro where the dog eats it, the game says nothing and lets the player start wandering a town at night — and that’s pretty much all I did in my time with it.
The little girl has a flashlight but isn’t able to participate in any sort of combat. As she walks down dark streets, weird monsters pop up and she’s either got to run, or hide and hope they go away. After successfully doing either, she goes back to wandering the streets and looking for clues.
Aimlessly walking around is one of my least favorite activities in all of gaming, so there’s not a lot for me in Yomawari. The art style is cute, but it’s just not interesting or engaging to walk.
I’ve got no investment in the character or the situation, and I’ve got no clue why monsters keep appearing. These creatures don’t even really do anything. Some give little jump scares, some just sit there and look unusual, and some give chase.
Ironically, running away isn’t even done that well. The girl’s stamina is sufficient when jogging around, but it oddly drains twice as fast when something’s chasing her. The overhead view makes it hard to see things behind trees and buildings, and it’s easy to get caught on corners or in areas where it looks like there’s a way but there really isn’t.
Between the dark environment, the lack of excitement and the slow pace, I fell asleep twice while playing Yomawari: Night Alone, and that pretty much says it all.
Currently, he's got about 42 minutes a night to play because adulting is a timesuck, but despite that, he's a happily married guy with two kids who both have better K/D ratios than he does.
Brad still loves Transformers, he's on Marvel Puzzle Quest when nobody at the office is looking, and his favorite game of all time is the first Mass Effect -- and he thought the trilogy's ending was Just Fine, Thanks.
Follow Brad on Twitter at @BradGallaway