Yomawari: Night Alone is a creepy game, and not one that I was eager to play at night. Similar to The Firefly Diary, Yomawari features a young female protagonist who’s subject to some particularly gruesome deaths and an unsettling atmosphere. I may have preferred Nippon Ichi Software’s Firefly Diary, but Yomawari is another great title for Vita’s library.
Yomawari sees a young girl searching for her dog Poro after he goes missing one night, and her sister who also goes missing whilst searching for Poro. Alone at night, she quickly finds that her town is home to monsters who prowl the streets at night and coming into contact with them leads to a brutal end. The young sister must search the town for clues to Poro’s and her sisters whereabouts whilst avoiding these monsters – the school part in particular is incredibly intense. The game only clocks in at a handful of hours but I enjoyed the story, even if the outcome was a little vague.
You have nothing to defend yourself with other than a flashlight and throwing pebbles to distract enemies but if they find you, then you can only hope to run and hide as it’s instant death if caught. When hiding, you can only hear your heartbeat and enemies are potrayed as red, beating mists that show if they’re nearby or not – they’re not stupid, if you hide in a bush right next to one, they’ll wait for you to come back out. You have to use coins to activate checkpoints in the form of statues and you have to return home (you can do it via the menu, thankfully) to save, but in doing so you lose your checkpoint progress and it’s quite slow getting to places without it let alone doing it multiple times.
Despite its colourful appearance, Yomawari has some terrifying sights that deceive its cute protagonist. Whilst the little sister may be adorable with her rabbit-styled backpack and red bow, things become a lot less delightful when blood splatters the screen upon dying. It’s very dark and the monsters are deranged and horrifying, juttering around the screen or chasing you down with their many legs and gaping mouths until you make a narrow escape or meet a grisly end – and you will. It’s genuinely creepy and you never know what’s around the next corner or what enemies lurk out of sight, but you’re forced to find out as you continue your search for your loved ones.
Yomawari is very atmospheric and achieves this via excellent sound design and a lack of music. The monsters make rattling, grotesque noises and produce spine-chilling screams, and noises such as a warped school bell and the crushing, splatting effect played when you die do a great job in making you want to switch the game off. If you play this at night with headphones then rest assured you’ll be in for a frightening and tense experience.
Yomawari: Night Alone may not be a long game and it can sometimes be cumbersome in its controls, but it features an intriguing plot that’s slowly unravelled as you search more of the town, brilliant audio and stunning visuals packed with fearsome monsters. If you don’t enjoy survival horror games then this won’t be for you, but if you enjoyed The Firefly Diary and want something similar in tone (okay, Yomawari is far scarier) then buying this should be an easy decision for you. I certainly appreciate these games on Vita and hope that Nippon Ichi Software continue to make games like this.