Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, which is available for Playstation 4, PSVita & PC, is a sequel to last years PSVita & PC release – Yomawari: A Night Alone. Whilst it seems similar, this sequel isn’t a direct continuation as it looks to offer a new story featuring two protagonists trying to survive the nightmare. Is it a just a case of more of the same? Lets take a look…
Whilst there is a prologue to the game’s story that ends in a dark manner, the story you will follow starts soon after. Two girls, Yui & Haru, are spending their last Summer fireworks display together as Haru is about to move away which leads to a sombre atmosphere between the two. Once the fireworks are done the girls make their way down from the cliffside, but the trail seems eerily dark & quiet. Things take a turn for the worst at the end of the trail as the girls get separated, with Yui going missing leaving Haru alone. Haru makes her way home, leaving a not at Yui’s house, before deciding to head out and look for her missing friend.
With the story on this sequel focuses on the survival of two girls, that also translates to separate viewpoints. There’s a split really early in the games first chapter that sees the girls separated, and the game carries on from here by offering two interlinking storylines. This means there’s regular switches between the two which may sound jarring, but it actually helps the game. The situations each girl is in offers a slightly different experience, Yui is usually being hunted whilst Haru is looking for her friend, and the way each pans out can have an effect on the others situation. Overall it is better than the original as the paths of the two girls offers a good amount of variety. There’s plenty of collectibles out there in the town if you want to explore with Haru and find them all. Not really much else to the game aside from the story though.
If you have played the original Yomawari then you’ll be pleased to know that this sequel keeps all the goodness from the original with the addition of some tweaks to the presentation. One tweak is the shift in viewpoint that springs up on the odd occasion. Played almost entirely from an isometric view when exploring the town, things shift to a side view on the odd occasion that really shows how good Nippon Ichi’s 2D engine can be – the prologue in particular is a highlight. The environments themselves are a tad more detailed here, with improvements to lighting adding an extra bit of ambience to the town as you explore. Returning monsters also see a subtle improvement, though its mainly the new designs that you’ll take notice of – thankfully these fit in perfectly with those that have come before. The quality sound design from the original makes a return here. Atmosphere created by the limited sounds is great, with your footsteps and eerie sound scattered among the ambience. There’s no BGM to distract you from any of this, the heartbeat which is used like a sonar for local enemies isn’t lost in a hectic soundscape – just like the original. There’s no presentation overhaul for the sequel, but it’s something that wasn’t really needed. It would’ve been nice to maybe have something like HDR added, could really benefit a game like this, but there’s been a good refinement over the original without changing the style
Midnight Shadows builds itself upon the solid foundations laid down by Night Alone, again offering a refinement with some additions. Gameplay is pure survival horror like the original, with you given free reign to explore the town whilst avoiding the ghoulies. Avoiding the enemies and managing your energy level is key, as one touch from any of the ghoulish creatures is game over and they will usually only appear when caught in the light from your torch. The closer you get to foes, the faster your energy drains when running, which makes for some tense moments – being able to hide behind numerous objects till the area clears makes for a great breather when chased though. Learning attack patterns will also help in the long run, every enemy is unique in their actions and encounters will rarely be the same. A small addition comes in the form of charms which are found when exploring. These act as perks and can do things such as boosting stamina or run speed. The charms are a nice addition as they help with your survival, Midnight Shadows is insta-death just like its predecessor.
The main issue with the original was the amount of aimless wandering you would end up doing. It wasn’t always made clear how to fulfill an objective, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with the sequel as clearer clues usually point you in the right direction. Improvements continue with there now being more encounters with monsters, due in no small smart to there being more variation, which keeps things interesting. There are still times when things are quiet, but the barren moments aren’t as prevalent. The game makes use of these well to throw a lot of jump scares at you. There are plenty of freaky moments too, like spirits being thrown off buildings that then chase you. Overall there’s not much different from the original, this sequel offers a refinement alongside improvements where need. That’s all that was really needed to be honest and this sequel is all the better for it by sticking to its survival horror formula and improving the right areas.
Midnight Shadows takes everything that Night Alone was and refines it, with some improvements where needed – which is how sequels should be for the most part. You don’t always have to reinvent the wheel and Midnight Shadows continues the fine survival horror formula of the original and offers a great game for returning survivors or those looking to get a little spooked for the first time. Highly recommended, and I don’t even like survival horror games…
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows (PlayStation 4) - 9/10
- Great survival horror gameplay
- A little exploration
- dual interlinking story
- Great creature design & jump scares
- Doesn’t reinvent the formula?
- No Pro upgrades
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