Yomawari – Night Alone review (Vita)

Nippon Ichi Software is one of the most prolific Vita publishers out there – they’ve remained loyal to the system and even released quite a few exclusive titles for the platform. Their latest is Yomawari – Night Alone.

Yomawari – Night Alone casts you in the role of a young girl, out for an evening walk with her dog. This part serves as a tutorial or sorts, but the game’s controls are easy enough to understand and this section doesn’t last long. Before you know it, your dog Poro goes missing and you return home to your sister.

Once there, your sister tells you to stay put, heading out herself to find Poro. When this takes too long, you venture outside once more and discover that your neighborhood has been overrun with ghosts and ghouls – a complicating factor in your quest to find your sister and dog. Confrontation isn’t really an option, so you have to rely on stealth, trickery and other means of escape.

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What stands out immediately when playing Yomawari – Night Alone is the gorgeous art style that the developers used. The isometric viewing angle is of course widely used, but the game makes great use of darkness and lighting to create an eerie atmosphere that oozes suspense. What’s especially striking is the stark contrast between these moody visuals and the cute rendering of your lead character – something not unlike a Studio Ghibli animation. It’s a great way of illustrating the innocence vs horror aspect of the game, and it blends together well visually.

Light plays a key role in Yomawari, as enemies can become invisible as long as they hide in the darkness. Street lights are your friends, as is your flashlight. The game is broken up into chapters and a playthrough of the entire game will last about six to seven hours – a pretty decent length for a portable game.

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Yomawari – Night Alone is probably best compared to the likes of Corpse Party and the upcoming 2DARK, which we’ll cover in the near future. It’s a very different type of horror game than a lot of gamers are used to, and a refreshing change of pace. Stealth and atmosphere are crucial elements here, the latter being aided by an excellent soundtrack.

The game’s not perfect though. There are sections where the AI seems random – or at least the solutions that end up working do. It’s also difficult to properly save your game easily, which makes it hard to pick up Yomawari for a quick session. You’ll be able to use respawn points when you die, but turning off your Vita might throw you back further than you’d want to. As a result, this is a game best played when you have a bit more time on your hands.

Despite these minor shortcomings, Yomawari – Night Alone is a great little game for Vita users during a time where they’re not being spoiled for choice. Definitely recommended.

Score: 8.1/10

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