Yomawari: Midnight Shadows review for PS Vita, PS4

Platform: PS Vita
Also On: PC, PS4
Publisher: NIS America
Developer: Nippon Ichi Software
Medium: Digital/Vita Card/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

If you played Yomawari: Night Alone, it probably won?t surprise you to learn that its successor has no qualms about shocking players right off the bat. After all, that first game — and be warned this sentence will venture into very mild spoiler territory for something that happens in the first couple of minutes of Night Alone — started off with the shocking death of the main character?s dog. If Yomawari: Midnight Shadows didn?t do something a little upsetting in its first few minutes, it would?ve been a surprise.

Even knowing that, however, I have to say that the beginning of Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is pretty messed up. I won?t go into details, but be aware that it?s hard to imagine how an unsettling horror game like this could?ve set the tone any better than it does.

I?ll also say that, despite that shocking beginning, in most respects Midnight Shadows is pretty much identical to Night Alone — which is both good and bad.

It?s good because Midnight Shadows shows, like its predecessor, that it knows how to set a deeply unsettling mood. The flickering shadows at the edge of the screen, hiding who-knows-what monsters and enemies. The sparse score, that throws in the faintest sounds to keep you ever so slightly off balance. The fact that, when death comes — and it?s pretty much inevitable, since that?s just how these games work — it?ll probably come out of nowhere, and it will be marked by a splatter of blood across the screen. All of these are ingredients for a pretty solid horror game.

Unfortunately, like its predecessor, Midnight Shadows has all these great ideas, but it doesn?t seem to know what to do with them. The game still consists entirely of your on-screen characters very slowly walking around neighbourhoods, looking for clues and hiding whenever monsters come close. As I wrote about Night Alone as well: I?m the last person who can complain about so-called ?walking simulators,? since that?s one of my favourite genres, but with Midnight Alone, it often feels like the flaws that get ascribed to that genre are actually more applicable here.

To be sure, there are worse things for a game to be that unsettling and spooky — especially if, obviously, we?re talking about a horror game. It?s just that it doesn?t take long before you wish that Yomawari: Midnight Shadows would deliver more than a creepy feeling, and, like its predecessor, it?s a wish that never quite pays off.

NIS America provided us with a Yomawari: Midnight Shadows PS Vita code for review purposes.

Grade: B-