Have you ever experienced heart palpitations? It’s basically when your heart has to pump harder than usual to let more blood flow, and it’s entirely natural. When you experience fear, stress, or many other emotions, you might realise you can feel your heartbeat pretty clearly sometimes. In Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, I was well aware of it. This game has an incredibly oppressive and bleak atmosphere, and it had me huddled into the corner of my seat rather than on the edge of it.
Yui and Hara become separated after a fireworks show, and they soon realise that their quaint little town isn’t quite the same when dark falls. The two have to navigate their way through a place they thought they knew well so that they can find each other again, and so that they survive the night from the variety of shadows and creatures that are out – and bloodthirsty. It’s very unsettling and a cute pet dog is in this one too — yes, you’ll be worrying for this dog.
Armed with a flashlight, you’ll have to traverse the town and its many threats and twists and turns. There may be no dialogue but it’s a creepy game that’ll give you sweaty palms more often than not, and there were times where I had to take a break or sat in a bush for ages waiting for the safest possible moment to continue my journey. Tip-toeing is available to not attract the attention of enemies but, if you’re like me, you might want to take your chances and just run to the nearest bush. Not always the best idea, but it’s less tense!
Wandering around and avoiding enemies is the primary goal of the game, and a bar at the bottom of the screen will let you know when you’re too exhausted to sprint — a cool returning mechanic is when you’re hiding, you’ll be able to tell how close an enemy is judging by your heartbeat and red splotches on-screen. It’s very similar to the first game and it’s easy to become lost, but if you enjoyed the first game then you’ll love Midnight Shadows.
The art in this game is great, but it doesn’t stand out quite as much as its fantastic audio work. A good few of the creatures you’ll come across are genuinely frightening, and there’s a moment near the start of the game that’ll make you jump — you’ll know it when you see it! Many limbs and eyeballs make up the bulk of these white and red creatures and, if you think they’re scary to look at, then you’ll be terrified when you hear them. It’s also been made easier to spot an object you can interact with, and I’m grateful for this considering they can be very well hidden sometimes.
The audio work is where Yomawari truly shines, and its audio alone puts me on edge. There’s little music and the soundtrack is composed mostly of environmental noises and the shuffling of the protagonists. Everything feels raw, and the atmosphere created is one that won’t allow any time to relax. It’s recommended that you play this with headphones but, well, I chose not to. I’m sorry, I just couldn’t hack it! It’s scary enough without them. A braver person than me may play through the entirety of the game with headphones and although that person is not me, I can only appreciate how unnerving this game is.
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a game that scared me more than Resident Evil VII ever did, and it isn’t one for the faint-hearted. The spooky season has been and gone but with the nights coming quicker, you’ll be able to put Midnight Shadows on at pretty much any time — it’s a great fit for night, but no thank you! Whilst Yomawari doesn’t quite reach the same standards as another similar work of Nippon Ichi Software, htoL#NiQ, it’s still a game which fans of the company will love. If you’re looking for something that’ll give you the goosebumps, then Yomawari: Midnight Shadows will do it.