PREVIEW: ‘Trek to Yomi,’ Brings Classic Style and Swordplay in Spades (PC)

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Trek to Yomi Preview 1

Trek to Yomi is a narratively driven action-adventure game developed by Flying Wild Hog and published by Devolver Digital. As a boy, Hiroki learned the way of the Samurai from his mentor. But when his master is slain in a bandit raid, Hiroki swears he will fight on to protect his village and his love Aoki. But some vows are not so easy to keep in this preview of Trek to Yomi.

Let’s open up with the most striking aspect of this game: the visuals. The developers have done a mind-blowing job recreating the look of the Edo Era of Japan through the lens of classic Japanese film. If you are a fan of films like Akira Kurosawa’s legendary Seven Samurai, the visual design that permeates this game will be everything you could ask for.

From the grainy black and white colors to the camera angles, every aspect of this preview of Trek to Yomi‘s presentation harkens back to those classic stories. Even the way characters deliver dialogue feels like a loving recreation of cinema’s past. And this dedication to recreation doesn’t stop with the visuals either. This devotion to classic cinema, as well as the Edo Era of Japan, comes through in the game’s combat as well.

While other properties love to use the classic lone samurai warrior as a means of delivering over-the-top action sequences that see gravity-defying moves, this preview of Trek to Yomi opted to keep its challenging combat far more grounded. With a simple block, parry, counter-focused control scheme, this game seeks to deliver the swift brutality that was swordsmanship at the time. Most enemies are dispatched with a pair of strikes, and while fancier options were available to me, more often than not the simplest attack was the surest and safest path to victory. This feels appropriate given the game’s dedication to realism. And while Hiroki can take more damage than most of his opponents, he is just as mortal as anyone else. Happily, the developers have crafted this game to deliver unforgiving combat, while allowing players who may struggle with the consistency the game requires in that combat to advance through the story. This is thanks to the frequent presence of shrines.

Trek to Yomi Preview 2

Shrines serve as Trek to Yomi‘s save system. Along with capturing progress, the shrines also replenish the player’s health and stamina. These frequent rest areas keep a single bad combat encounter from spelling doom for the player. And while they do provide a safety net, they are not a “get out of jail free” card. Each shrine can only be activated once. No moving forward, getting beaten up, and falling back to replenish. This limiter is most felt when the player discovers side battles throughout their journey. Will one more fight leave Hiroki too scarred to make it to the next shrine? But what if a health/stamina increase, or even a new combat technique awaits on the other side of the optional challenge? Or perhaps the cries of the threatened villager inside a burning hut are enough to make the player assume the risk and see if they can handle the extra danger. And in case the frequent shrine visits still are not enough for players to manage the game’s challenging combat, an easy mode is available for those whose primary interest is the story.

Fusing both the classic look of the game’s visuals and the harsh brutality of its combat is Trek to Yomi‘s narrative. The few plot beats that come in the preview portion of this game are well-crafted moments that deliver timeless story beats, even if they are not the most original story scenes I’ve viewed. But as I have observed before, predictable plot points are not a bad thing if delivered with enough skill. Not only is the skill certainly present in these moments, but the adherence to the classic feel of older cinema would make some startling plot twist feel entirely out of place.

When all is said and done, my preview of Trek to Yomi has me eagerly awaiting the game’s full release later this year.

Trek to Yomi is coming to PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series S/X, and PC later this year.