Trek To Yomi Review


Since the launch of Ghost of Tsushima back in 2020, I’ve been looking for other things to fill my love of Japanese samurai media. It rare to find games that capture that essence of old school samurai films but Trek to Yomi had me invested hook line and sinker from the time I booted it up. It faithfully represents the sights and sounds of feudal Japan, has a challenging yet rewarding gameplay loop and is a clear love letter to Kurosawa-style samurai films.

Trek to Yomi Review

Trek to Yomi take place during Japan’s Edo period and has you playing as Hiroki, a warrior on a revenge quest to avenge the lives of those lost from his destroyed village and his previous teacher you’ll first meet in the opening scene of the game. He acts not only as Hiroki’s sensei, but also the teacher to the player as he’ll teach you the core mechanics of combat before metaphorically sending you out into the world to further hone those fundamentals.

The structure of Trek to Yomi’s opening gets you invested straight away by instantly giving you a reason to care about the overall revenge mission plot before featuring a well placed time skip to jump you to where the core of the game will take place and letting you play as an older, more refined Hiroki.

The first thing you’ll notice upon jumping into the game, and the thing that drew me in the most is the game’s presentation. Despite being completely in black and white, the game is still very beautiful to look at and also uses a nice film grain effect to act as a homage to classic samurai films. The game’s main menu and user interface are also very minimalistic, clean and refined, further reflecting the traits of a good samurai.

Trek to Yomi Review

Gameplay wise, Trek to Yomi is a side scroller, but not really? It’s hard to define exactly because it does some really cinematic things with camera angles and the framing of sequences. So summing it up as a side scroller isn’t completely accurate, but hopefully gives you an idea of what kind of game to expect. Some of the game’s areas are much more open and present you opportunities to head off the main path to locate NPC’s to speak to, collectibles to find as well as skill upgrades. Although many other areas utilise a classic locked camera side scroll that still manages to have a real cinematic quality.

The mechanic you’ll engage with most throughout your time with the game is it’s combat. It’s a simple, yet rewarding system that continues to feel satisfying when you get it right. Trek to Yomi features light and heavy attack options for faster and slower but powerful combat, a dodge roll manoeuvre and parry/block options that should all be used at the appropriate times to have the best chance at succeeding with combat encounters and boss fights.

Timing is everything as a perfect block will break the enemies defences and allow you to slice them down with ease. And in true samurai fashion, it’s best to time the attacks as efficiently as possible while keeping an eye on your surroundings as things can quickly go bad if you’re overwhelmed by multiple enemies at once. While most of the combat will be close range, throughout the game you’ll also gain access to some ranged attacks which really come in handy for those situations where you’re about to be overwhelmed. And restocking these shurikens and your arrows often require looking off the main path, further encouraging additional exploration.

Trek to Yomi Review

I initially enjoyed the introduction of new combat moves and weapons but did find that after a while, combat encounters did begin to get repetitive, and by the end of the game found that the structure of most of the fights didn’t meet the same level of excitement the game’s art direction, sound and puzzle design brought to the table. Thankfully Trek to Yomi doesn’t overstay it’s welcome and can be completed in around 6 hours, meaning you can beat the whole game in a single sitting if you really wanted to.

Trek to Yomi is a difficult but rewarding experience and thankfully the save points aren’t too rare to come across. So even the areas I found quite difficult and required multiple attempts to learn from and eventually succeed at didn’t take too long between attempts, which is something I really appreciate in games these days, especially in those where the designers understand you’ll likely be dying frequently as you learn to master its systems.

Even though the game can be beaten fairly quickly, there’s plenty of replayability on offer for those that do want to jump back in for more. There are plenty of upgrades and collectibles to find, which are often accompanied by interesting snippets of lore and Japanese culture and upon beating the game the first time, you’ll then unlock a new difficulty mode where you can truly put your skills to the test as it features instant death for Hiroki if you take even a single hit.

While I enjoyed most of what Trek to Yomi brought to the table, I did encounter a few minor bugs throughout my playthrough that thankfully were just incidents that took me out of the experience a bit rather than game breaking. I found some character animations would intermittently look out of place and glitched and also encountered a strange bug where sound files from a scene continued to loop even after I had left the environment they’d originally played in. While I expect these things could easily be patched out in a future fix, they were noticeable throughout my first experience with Trek to Yomi.

Trek to Yomi Review

Final Thoughts

Overall I did enjoy my time with Trek to Yomi. It’s a great tribute piece to classic samurai cinema and has excellent art direction and sound design. It’s combat system did begin to wear a little thin by the game’s end and there were a few bugs encountered during my time with it, but if you’re looking for an interesting samurai tale that can be completed in just a couple of sessions, Trek to Yomi may be just the thing you’re looking for.

A PS5 review code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review.

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Played On: PS5

  • + Gorgeous art direction
  • + Replayability options
  • + Audio design that puts you into the world
  • + Short and sweet experience

  • - Repetitive structure and sword play
  • - Multiple audio and visual bugs

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