Yomawari: The Long Night Collection (Review)
Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is a bundle of two games, released now for the first time on the Switch, Yomawari: Night Alone and its sequel, Yomawari: Midnight Shadows. When you look at the graphics and child protagonists of the Yomawari games, you might assume these are cute games… but make no mistake about it, they are horror games through and through, and each game begins with a startling scene to make sure you realize it.
The two games have similar premises: you’re a child exploring the town at night while spirits and monsters roam. In Night Alone, you play as an unnamed protagonist searching for her sister. In Midnight Shadows, you primarily play as a girl named Haru as she searches for her missing friend Yui, but there are also sections where you control Yui as well. These characters have no way of defending themselves and will die in a single hit, so all you can do is evade, distract, flee, and hide from the bizarre spirits and yokai out for your blood.
When you hide, you won’t be able to see anything around you. Instead, your heartbeat acts as a radar system to let you know if enemies are nearby. You’ll also collect numerous items as you explore, such as rocks you can throw to distract enemies or lightning bugs to create a stationary point of light. The basic gameplay is the same for both games, but Midnight Shadows refines the system by giving you greater control over your flashlight and the ability to carry or move small objects. Sometimes they rely a bit too heavily on trial-and-error gameplay, but the forgiving save system keeps this from becoming anything worse than an annoyance.
In Night Alone, the Jizu statues around town serve as checkpoints, and you can instantly teleport to your house at any point to save your game. (Despite the game’s unclear explanation, you won’t lose any progress by doing this.) In Midnight Shadows, the Jizu statues are full save points instead. You need to pay a coin to save at them, but coins respawn and are in plentiful supply. Add in the fact that you keep any items you picked up when you die, and you’re rarely in danger of losing too much progress. The statues also function as fast travel points, which is good, because you have a lot of ground to cover.
While some areas are blocked off at the start, the Yomawari games give you large towns to explore with lots of collectibles, secrets, and optional events to discover. Night Alone essentially drops you in the town and leaves you to figure out where to go and how to get there, while Midnight Shadows is a more guided experience with story sections that take place in semi-linear dungeons once you find your way to the right locations. The trade-off is that Midnight Shadows also has a stronger narrative focus and a more compelling plot, compared to Night Alone’s ambiguous storyline.
Once you finish the main story, you’ll be able to keep playing in the post-game. In Night Alone, this largely means collecting any items you missed, but Midnight Shadows expands it with new post-game events and areas. They’re short games, yes, but there’s a fair amount of content if you want to do everything – and every collectible has a description that adds to the overall worldbuilding and atmosphere.
Between their dark atmospheres, unsettling stories, deadly enemies, and focus on exploration, the two Yomawari games are solid entries in the survival horror genre. Don’t let the cute graphics fool you, Yomawari: The Long Night Collection is a must-play for horror fans.