Trek To Yomi Review – One Samurai

The one thing that immediately stands out about Trek to Yomi is its striking visual style. Set during Japan’s Edo Period, Trek to Yomi captures feudal Japan with a grainy black and white filter reminiscent of classic samurai cinema–particularly the movies of legendary filmmaker Akira Kurosawa. Almost every single frame in Trek to Yomi could be a painting; such is the beauty of its immaculate composition. For all of its gravitas, however, the side-scrolling action game underneath it all continually underwhelms. When two heavy, steel katanas clash against each other with a subdued and weightless whimper, it becomes clear that Trek to Yomi lacks the substance to match its fantastic style.

Most of your time in Trek to Yomi is spent cutting down enemies with protagonist Hiroki’s deadly katana. Combat adopts a familiar structure as you utilize light and heavy attacks, parries, dodge-rolls, and ammo-limited ranged weapons like a bow and shurikens to carve through each enemy encounter. Stamina governs how often you can block and attack before becoming winded and leaving yourself open to attack, but both health and stamina can be upgraded by exploring and finding pickups off the beaten path. You’ll also unlock new combos as you progress, including one that lets you swing backwards–useful for dealing with enemies who emerge from behind–and another that leads with a heavy attack before transitioning into a combination of lightning-fast strikes.

You feel appropriately deadly, able to cut through most enemies with a couple of sword swings, but this does mean combat is a cakewalk for the most part. Armored enemies aren’t quite as easy to kill, since they’re able to sustain more damage and generally have more elaborate combos, and enemy types like those wielding spears force you to close the distance before you can strike a killing blow. The problem with Trek to Yomi’s combat is that dispatching these foes rarely ever feels satisfying. There’s a lack of fluidity when transitioning between different actions, and the animations are stuttery and stilted, lending everything a sense of weightlessness that’s at odds with the game’s cinematography. Parries are decidedly underwhelming, too, and enemies tend to attack one at a time–even when they have you surrounded–eliminating much need in even using the mechanic. It all results in combat taking on a formulaic rhythm as you simply parry, attack, and then repeat, regardless of which enemy type you’re confronted with.

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