Creator Leonard Menchiari and publisher Devolver Digital bring us Trek to Yomi, an action game inspired by the Samurai movies of the 1950s. Featuring 3D exploration that shifts to 2D during combat during quickly decided battles, stellar music, and incredible voice acting this title will be coming to game pass at release. I was lucky enough to spend roughly 45 minutes playing the opening segments of the game and I’ve come away quite impressed.
My initial impression was awe at how this game looks. It may not stand out technically, but the style is unique. Through the use of filters, color removal, and surprisingly good facial models it felt like I was controlling a different take on a classic Kurosawa Samurai film such as Yojimbo. Exploration is free to move in and out of the background, but things shift to a flat 2D plane for the protagonist when combat is initiated. You are Hiroko, a Samurai pupil (at least to start). After a harrowing opening sequence, things jump forward in time and you are now doing your best to protect your home and those you love.
The writing and voice acting during cutscenes and in-combat are excellent. Lip-synch on the characters looked great, and the screams of foes as you quickly dispatch them with your blade is terrifying in their raw emotion. Combat is basic and mostly parry-based. X is your basic attack and holding different directions will initiate different angles of attack. Y is your heavy swing, which can kill in a single blow but also drains your stamina meter more quickly. B is your run and can be combined with Y for a vicious slashing attack, but once again that uses a large portion of your stamina. If you use up all your stamina you enter a tired state and can be taken out in a single blow if you are caught with a powerful attack. It feels simplistic to a fault at first, but as I neared the end of the forty-five-minute preview build enough enemies started coming at me to make things feel rather difficult on the 2nd of 4 difficulties.
There are multiple short side activities which were mostly saving various villagers from their bandit foes to gain back hp, replenish stamina, or earn more throwing weapons. A press of the RT will deal moderate damage and stop an enemy’s attack and it was useful in a pinch when my stamina was too low to parry or block effectively. Stamina replenishes quickly but you need to pace yourself in between each fight. I died repeatedly because I was too impatient and kept running headlong into fight after fight before my stamina had reached full again. Combat is fast, and most enemies die in 2 regular or 1 heavy attack. Armor-wearing foes can live through 6 regular hits or 3 heavy and these numbers all change based on the difficulty you are playing on. The 2nd of the 3 initially available difficulties felt just right on the challenge front, and a 4th difficulty was showing but experience tells me you must complete the game before it becomes available.
Game Pass It On
As this title is coming to Game Pass it seems well worth a download when it releases later in 2022. The story in the preview was sparse, but what was there was well written and the voice acting was truly top-notch. Performance on my laptop was acceptable as long as I made sure to close all other open programs (except OBS of course for capture purposes). The proportions of people can look a bit off in cutscenes in comparison to the high-quality work of their face models. Overall the game is stunning to look at, with great use of lighting to set its, initially, dark and depressive mood. Trek to Yomi has jumped up the list of titles I’m looking forward to this year. The fact that it’s available day one on Game Pass makes it all the better.