Review: Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a dark and haunting tragedy

How powerful is friendship? What lengths will people go to in order to reconnect with someone important to them? The Yomawari games have always explored the impact of the supernatural on such bonds, showing people won’t allow even the most horrifying situations to hold them back. Yomawari: Midnight Shadows offers a more comprehensive and richer view of such a situation, allowing players to see two sides of a situation and engage with even more otherworldly creatures and unfortunate altercations.

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows has a heartbreaking prologue. A young girl buries her recently deceased dog, abandons the one that is still living, then ends her life. Except in the next scene, she is alive. This girl, whose name is Yui, is attending a fireworks show with Haru, her best friend that is about to move away. This farewell turns tragic when the two girls are separated by spirits. The rest of the game follows the duo as they attempt to reunite.

Going through Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is quite an adventure, with both Haru and Yui exploring the same spaces, but at different times.

Going through Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is quite an adventure, with both Haru and Yui exploring the same spaces, but at different times. We tend to see Yui go through an area first, experiencing something of a preview of things to come. She will search for ways out of enclosed spaces, attempting to go home. She could find items that help her or information on unfortunate happenings around the town. Then, Haru will find her way to that same space, experiencing more dire circumstances and bosses when she arrives. This arrangement offers a nice sense of foreshadowing, especially since Haru will experience more dangerous situations when she arrives.

Keeping your wits about you is critical in Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. This is a game where you learn as you go. Both Haru and Yui can interact with their environments. They might be able to cover mirrors, hide behind cover or push boxes, as examples. Neither heroine has weapons, but they can pick up items to throw that may distract spirits, have a flashlight on hand and Haru collects charms that offer benefits like a faster running speed or ability to hold more items. Saving is a precious thing, something that can only be done at specific statues if you have collected a coin to use as an offering. Yui’s segments that provide chances to get a feel for a space are much appreciated, since Haru can deal with some crafty or puzzling creatures.

These two viewpoints help illustrate how large Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is. This is a much bigger game than Night Alone, with more indoor and outdoor spaces. There is even a new sense of perspective, as there will be instances where it goes from an isometric perspective to a two-dimensional one. When this occurs, it can be to provide a more artistic view of an area or increase the challenge. In one instance, you will face an actual boss in a 2D segment, which makes handling it a little more interesting and provides a better sense of scale.

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows’ range of activity and area makes the game feel richer and more alive. Haru and Yui head to areas we would never have expected to see in Night Alone, and it improves the story and our understanding of the world as a result. Various subevents occur, offering more insight into the nature of these creatures and the world. While some of these can be heartbreaking and unpleasant, it gives the town more character and provides more motivation to explore. Especially since there is post-game content here for people to enjoy after Haru and Yui finally reunite. All of the story-related content we see carries weight. The events that have happened to Haru, Yui and these faceless, nameless NPCs stick with us because of the simple and effective way the story is told.

I even feel like Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is more effective in its imagery than Night Alone.

I even feel like Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is more effective in its imagery than Night Alone. Part of it is the dual nature of things, seeing both of these heroines experience different things. Some of it is due to the role Mr. Kotowari, a recurring ghost who continually tracks Haru, plays. It left me wondering about the nature of people and these otherworldly things, how they could be good, bad or just plain neutral. The way in which everything is presented is haunting, at times even scary, but it is also appealing and occasionally beautiful. Because there is this disconnect between how such instances would actually look and how they look here, in this game, it makes it easier to accept, handle and survive such situations.

Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a game that sticks with you. What happens, what you are forced to do and the way things look when they occur have a big impact. And because we are walking in both Haru and Yui’s shoes, it makes things even more heartbreaking and thrilling. We are incredibly connected to these young women, invested in their story in a way we might not have been in the previous installment. And, since there is even more to see and do, it means more opportunities to have all sorts of feelings while we run away from unspeakable horrors and toward the inevitable.

Score: 8/10
Publisher: NIS America
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Platform(s): PS4, Vita, PC
Questions? Check out our review guide.
A review copy was provided by the publisher or developer for this review.

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