Breathtaking. Jaw-dropping. Stunning. There are a lot of words that can be used to describe games in a hyperbolic way. Every gamer knows when reading them that the writer is attempting to put into words a feeling of wonder and amazement they felt when experiencing a game; these are the words that come into play when trying to express that feeling. No one really believes that a writer had their breath taken away. No one thinks that a writer really had their jaw hanging open while experiencing a cool visual, or a rewarding fight sequence. Is anyone ever "stunned" by a game?
Well, yes, actually, that has happened to me on occasion, but it doesn't happen very often. Playing games for me is more like a slow drip into the pleasure centers of my brain; rarely do I get a burst of dopamine so strong that I am dumbfounded. But one of those "jaw-dropping" moments happened to me when I was playing Trek to Yomi, the new samurai game from developer Leonard Menchiari and Wild Flying Hogs, published by Devolver Digital. As a long time fan of samurai movies, there were parts of the hour-long demo I played that were so fantastic that I actually sucked my breath in and held it. There was one particular moment when my character moved towards a bridge. The camera angle changed to a long shot, showing the entirety of the bridge, accentuating the smallness of my character against an enormous background. At that exact moment, a clap of lightning lit up the sky behind me, and I felt what can only be described as awe - awe at the artistry that went into the creation of Trek to Yomi, the attention to detail, the loving way that it treats fans of the samurai film genre.
Looking back on the video I am posting here, I can actually hear the moments where this game punches me in the face with its amazing filmic visuals. You can hear my excitement, growing to a crescendo at the end of the demo, when I beat the final boss with only one health bar left. Playing this demo was a fantastic, memorable experience, and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest of the game.
Though I'm clearly impressed with the presentation of Trek to Yomi, its not all about the visuals; the samurai combat is slick and approachable. I started the above video playing the demo on "easy" mode, not wanting to embarrass myself if I was walking into a Souls-like experience. About halfway through the demo, I realized that I could handle the combat just fine, and so I raised the difficulty to "normal". That put me on a path towards dying a few times, but it also made the game far more engaging, forcing me to learn the patterns of my enemies to properly defend myself. The block/strike/block mechanic at play forces the player into a rhythm, which - once grasped - is deeply satisfying. It is clear that as the game moves on, more combat mechanics will open up, allowing the player a little bit of leeway in the way they approach battles. But for now, in the scope of this first hour of the game, I was just fine with trying to master the foundational mechanics I was given.
Over the years, I've seen many games described as "filmic" or "cinematic". Trek to Yomi is one of the few that actually achieves what so many others have attempted. Having watched a ton of Kurosawa films over the years, I instantly recognized the DNA of that cinematic tradition in Trek to Yomi. I want to be very clear here: Trek to Yomi is not "like" a samurai film. This game doesn't simply utilize a samurai film's setting, or characters, or story beats. No, Trek to Yomi is an actual playable samurai film - using everything from the film grain to the aspect ratio to create a stunning facsimile of a beloved film genre. Just look at the lighting in each shot, and tell me that the person creating that shot doesn't have experience lighting for cinema. Trek to Yomi feels like the real deal because it is the real deal. I have a feeling that watching this game will be very nearly as satisfying as playing it.
There is no exact release date for Trek to Yomi, but the game is listed for "Spring 2022", so the wait will not be long before we all get to see how this epic story ends. There aren't many games that I consider to be "projector worthy" - meaning that I'll go through the effort of setting up my projector just so I can experience them on a big screen - but Trek to Yomi is one of those games. Trek to Yomi absolutely drips with cool, and I can't wait to get my hands on the full experience.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
Howdy. My name is Eric Hauter, and I am a dad with a ton of kids. During my non-existent spare time, I like to play a wide variety of games, including JRPGs, strategy and action games (with the occasional trip into the black hole of MMOs). I am intrigued by the prospect of cloud gaming, and am often found poking around the cloud various platforms looking for fun and interesting stories. I was an early adopter of PSVR (I had one delivered on release day), and I’ve enjoyed trying out the variety of games that have released since day one. I've since added an Oculus Quest 2 to my headset collection. I’m intrigued by the possibilities presented by VR multi-player, and I try almost every multi-player game that gets released.
My first system was a Commodore 64, and I’ve owned countless systems since then. I was a manager at a toy store for the release of PS1, PS2, N64 and Dreamcast, so my nostalgia that era of gaming runs pretty deep. Currently, I play on Xbox Series X, PS5, PS4, PSVR, Quest 2, Switch, Luna, GeForce Now, (RIP Stadia) and a super sweet gaming PC built by John Yan. While I lean towards Sony products, I don’t have any brand loyalty, and am perfectly willing to play game on other systems.
When I’m not playing games or wrangling my gaggle of children, I enjoy watching horror movies and doing all the other geeky activities one might expect. I also co-host Spielberg Chronologically, where we review every Spielberg film in order, which you can find wherever you get your podcasts.
Follow me on Twitter @eric_hauter, and check out my YouTube channel here.View Profile