Sunday, October 22, 2017

A few (more) thoughts on Yomawari: Night Alone in honor of #HorrorGameOct

Nippon Ichi's Yomawari: Night Alone and I have a complicated--and convoluted--history.

First, I bought a boxed copy of this Vita game's Japanese release. (See some photos of its case, cartridge, and instruction pamphlet here.) Although I'd been keenly interested in it since it was announced, it took me a good number of months to even put the Yomawari cartridge into my Vita. And after all that, I only played it for a short while before walking away because I just wasn't in the mood for a scary game at the time.

Then, earlier this year, I felt like giving it another try. Rather than boot up my Japanese cart, though, I purchased the North American version from the PlayStation Store. I actually put about two hours into Night Alone that time around, but this playthrough--which I discussed in this post from mid-March--was cut short, too, thanks to a little game called Dragon Quest Builders.

And why didn't I return to Yomawari after Dragon Quest Builders lost its hold on me? I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. I guess I turned my attention to something else--perhaps a 3DS title (or two)?

Regardless, between then and now, I've completely ignored Night Alone. I picked it up for a third time a couple of weeks ago, though, because my friend Anne kicked off a horror-focused community game-along--called #HorrorGameOct--that got me thinking about it again.

So, here we are. Attempt number three. The first thing you need to know about my latest Yomawari: Night Alone playthrough is I once again started from scratch. It's been so long since I last tackled the game that I thought returning to my old save file would be a mistake, so I erased it and threw myself into a new one.

Something else you need to know: I'm referring to a walkthrough this time around in the hopes it'll help me finish the game. As much as I hate to admit it, I find it easy to get lost while playing Night Alone thanks to its confusing map (or maybe it would be more accurate to blame its distressingly similar-looking alleyways and streets) and dimly lit locales.

Actually, due in large part to the above-mentioned niggles, I can honestly say I'd probably rather experience Yomawari: Night Alone on a TV than on a Vita. Which is saying a lot, as I almost always prefer playing games on a handheld device to playing them on a traditional console.

Another thing I hate to admit about my current Yomawari playthrough: I'm pretty sure its hiding mechanism failed to ping my radar during previous attempts. Now that I'm aware of and making use of it, though, I'm slapping myself. For starters, it makes it a lot easier to avoid the game's ghoulish baddies. Plus, it's fun to duck behind a sign or jump into some bushes and then "watch" as a nightmarish creature or two passes by via the protagonist's heartbeat and what I can only describe as a sort of heat map. (Less fun: leaving your hiding spot and immediately being killed. Oh, well, you have to get used to dying if you're going to play this title.)

Other than all that, I don't have much new to say about this Vita game. I'm still a fan of its looks, which are one part cute and one part horrific. (You'll know what I mean regarding the latter the second you lay your eyes on one of Night Alone's more hideous enemies.) I can't say the same about its soundtrack, but that's only because the bulk of Yomawari is experienced in near-silence. That's fine by me, though, as it enhances the atmosphere and tension.

As for the gameplay, it impresses, too. I guess some might disagree, as Night Alone's basically a visual novel that allows you to run around a small town and avoid monsters--rather than stare at static screens--while progressing its story, but I'm enjoying it overall despite its issues.

I've heard the game can be finished in just a handful of hours, so I doubt it'll be long before I encounter its end credits--assuming I continue to plug away at it (and keep my eye on the aforementioned walkthrough) this coming week. That's the current plan, so look for me to write and publish a Yomawari: Night Alone review soon.

In the meantime, have any of you played this Vita thriller? If so, please share your impressions of it in the comments section of this post.

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