Trek to Yomi isn’t much of a trek, to be honest. This tribute to classic samurai cinema is only a few hours long at most, taking place across just a handful of story chapters. But what Trek to Yomi lacks in longevity, it makes up for in sheer atmosphere and spectacle. It’s a superbly crafted indie adventure from a visual point of view, packed with rich environments and topped off with excellent direction through fixed camera angles. It’s a real treat for the eyes.
Trek to Yomi tells the tale of a duty-bound warrior named Hiroki, and when war comes knocking at his door, he puts his skills with a sword to good use in defence of his people. It’s a pretty straightforward premise that goes to interesting and perhaps unexpected places. There isn’t much dialogue, but the game is happy to let its masterful presentation do most of the talking.
This is essentially a side-scrolling action title. There’s some room for exploration every now and then — usually leading to either collectibles or health / stamina boosting items — but it’s a largely linear adventure as you move swiftly from one scene to the next. Indeed, the majority of your time will be spent cutting down dastards with your trusty blade, complete with over the top screams and sound effects.
The combat system itself is decent overall, but it can take a little getting used to because of how floaty it initially feels. Character animations can be a bit janky — especially when Hiroki suddenly snaps into a close range parry from six feet away — but never to a point where it feels like you’re lacking control. And that’s a good thing, because precision is paramount. Enemies attack quickly and without much warning, so a lot of encounters tend to enforce defensive actions before taking the opportunity to strike back.
As such, parries are the key to success, opening your opponents up for what is often a killing blow or killing combo. On its normal difficulty, Trek to Yomi isn’t a massively challenging game, but some trial and error might be required when you’re up against specific enemy types or bosses. Thankfully, checkpoints are frequent, and there is a well balanced, easier difficulty setting if you’re looking to learn.
Again, the action is solid enough, but even taking the game’s short length into consideration, repetition does start to set in later on. If you’re anything like us, you’ll discover a couple of key combos that seem to render a lot of your other moves redundant. It’s a shame, because you steadily unlock loads of cool-sounding techniques throughout Trek to Yomi, but we didn’t find much use for most of them — not when we could just hit the lethal one-two-three combo after every successful block or parry.
But look, the simple truth is that samurai duels during moody downpours will always be alluring — and Trek to Yomi captures that cinematic magic shockingly well at times. The game’s flaws are quite easy to forgive when it manages to siphon its inspirations so effectively.
Trek to Yomi does enough to satisfy in its short runtime — helped by the fact that it’s reasonably priced at £15.99 / $19.99 — but its replay value is up for debate. While there are multiple endings to see — based on a couple of key choices — none of your unlocked collectibles, skills, or upgrades carry through to subsequent runs. Given its straightforward structure, Trek to Yomi’s begging for some kind of New Game+ mode — but it isn’t here at launch.
Trek to Yomi is a decent samurai action game, elevated greatly by its superb presentation. Clocking in at only a few hours, this is a brief but ultimately satisfying tale, stitched together by some simple but very effective environmental design, and a combat system that rewards careful play. It’s not quite side-scrolling Ghost of Tsushima, but it is an impressively atmospheric love letter to samurai cinema.