Trek To Yomi: A Gloriously Cinematic Spectacle – PC Preview
It is surprising to me just how few samurai games there are. Outside of the jaw-droppingly beautiful Ghost of Tsushima and a few Japan-only exclusives, it is a considerably frustrating shame that there are so few games centred around samurai. Which is why it brought me such joy to see Trek to Yomi announced a while back.
Fortunately, I was recently afforded the wonderful opportunity to preview its first two chapters. Despite being told it should only take 45 minutes to beat, I became so enraptured by its beauty, ambition and cinematic prowess, that I ended up spending well over double that amount of time. After having now experienced everything the preview had to offer, I can now say with great pleasure that Trek to Yomi is not only shaping up to be the best samurai game ever made but perhaps the best game of all time.
“Trek to Yomi rises above the superficial nature of its gloriously gorgeous graphics and offers a hauntingly contemplative narrative alongside them.”
I feel it goes without saying that Trek to Yomi’s greatest asset is its unparalleled cinematic vision and marvellously magnificent visuals. Utilising a fixed camera perspective that shifts whenever you enter a new location, Trek to Yomi creates a dynamic and visually arresting experience that, through photorealistic visuals, immerses you like no other video game ever has. The intricate level of detail that has been applied to practically every scene is astounding. It affords the game a painting-like quality that makes every moment feel like an impeccable work of art.
All too often I found myself pausing to soak in the game’s vividly mesmeric atmosphere and taking screenshots nearly every other second. There has been a considerable amount of effort poured into making each and every space feel believable through not only small details and realistic animations but also through dense foliage and dynamic backgrounds. These spaces combine to create a coherent whole that feels entirely plausible which in turn completely removes the notion that you’re playing a video game, but rather enraptures you into Trek to Yomi’s gorgeous world.
Of course, these visuals are all in service of portraying not only the beauty but the horrors of this often romanticised time period. Each space tells its own intimate story, whether that be one of loss or blissful ignorance, showcasing the horrific nature of war and violence and its bleakly dire consequences. This, however, only serves to further engross you into the encompassing narrative at hand and enrich the world you inhabit. It ensures that Trek to Yomi rises above the superficial nature of its gloriously gorgeous graphics and offers a hauntingly contemplative narrative alongside them.
“There’s a genuine balance that needs to be maintained at all times, and it’s commendable that the developers have made it not only easy to grasp but fun to do throughout.”
Of course, Trek to Yomi needs compelling combat to back up its outstanding visuals. Fortunately, it more than lives up to the expectations set in its various gameplay trailers. Initially, combat proves to be a simple affair, consisting of light and heavy attacks and a parry option. However, simplicity is absolutely key in this case as it creates a daunting sense of tension in each and every encounter.
Coming toe-to-toe with an enemy, regardless of how easy they are to kill, is simultaneously exhilarating and intensely distressing as the chances of you dying are exceptionally high. Ostensibly, Trek to Yomi is a game all about timing and precision, although its varying difficulties alleviate this slightly. Parrying at just the right time creates an opening for you to return the attack, although if you push it too far you can be engulfed in a deadly combo that sees your life cut short.
There’s a genuine balance that needs to be maintained at all times, and it’s commendable that the developers have made it not only easy to grasp but fun to do throughout. Of course, the accessibility of the combat doesn’t mean its easy, and while save points are frequent, you’ll likely have to redo certain combat encounters repeatedly before progressing, especially on higher difficulties.
To ensure that combat doesn’t become too frustrating or cumbersome, Trek to Yomi includes a number of additional moves you can unlock. These not only ensure that fights never become stale but also incrementally improve the odds in your favour. Additionally, it is worth noting that combat feels as cinematic as the game looks. This is, in large part, due to the various angles that battles are shown from as well as the impressive and dynamic set pieces that occur as you fight.
“This is by far one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had, and I simply cannot wait to try the full thing.”
While I will omit most of the narrative details I experienced, as I firmly believe they are best left unspoiled, I do wish to praise both the cinematic direction of the game’s genuinely phenomenal cutscenes and the tremendous voice acting. Both of these elements combine to convey a somewhat traditional samurai narrative in a truly dramatic fashion. Every cutscene is a masterclass in both cinematography and direction, with the visual range and impeccable voice acting making it feel as if you were watching a film. Furthermore, thanks to the already cinematic nature of the gameplay, these cutscenes never feel out of place.
I haven’t even begun to touch upon the phenomenal natural flow of exploration, or how through small and varied offshoots Trek to Yomi seamlessly blends optional side quests with the main narrative. But frankly, to talk anymore about the groundbreakingly genre-defining aspects of Trek to Yomi’s gameplay, narrative or visuals would veer too far into spoiler territory. It goes without saying that this is truly a one-of-a-kind experience and one that will undoubtedly garner critical acclaim upon launch. I hold no reservations in viciously recommending Trek to Yomi to any that enjoy cinematic narrative experiences or fluid and precise combat. This is by far one of the best gaming experiences I’ve ever had, and I simply cannot wait to try the full thing.
Trek to Yomi is set to release sometime in Spring 2022 for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Game Pass, and Steam. You can wishlist it on Steam right now to be notified of any future updates.
*Disclaimer: Previewed on PC, code was provided by the Publisher.