[REVIEW] Trek to Yomi – Perfect, despite its imperfections

Alright, I’m gonna do something really ballsy here. I’m going to say that Trek to Yomi is going to be a GOTY contender. There, I said it. And I’m sure that many of you will disagree with me, for good reason. Because Flying Wild Hog’s Feudal Japanese hack ‘n’ slash epos is, by all means, imperfect. Yet still, Trek to Yomi ticks all the right boxes in my book. This is it, people. This is my 10/10 game of 2022.

Now, before I dig into this review, let me clarify a few things. First of all, I’m fully aware that giving a game a 10/10 review score is mighty controversial. Secondly, I’m also very much aware that Trek to Yomi got developed by Flying Wild Hog, a studio known for “fun” games and not necessarily great games. Yet still, I stand by my decision, because quite frankly, it’s the honorable thing to do. I stood by that decision when I got to experience the preview build, and I still stand by it today. A 10/10 doesn’t always have to reflect perfection. In this case, my 10/10 reflects my level of recommendation. And I couldn’t recommend it more.

Because let me tell you, Trek to Yomi is a game that has ‘it’. There’s something about it that just works. And it does that ‘thing’ so well that you’d almost forget about its flaws and imperfections. The story plays a major part in this feeling, telling us the tale of Hiroki, a young warrior living by the code of the Bushido. His honor is tested thoroughly when his master is slain before his eyes. From that moment on, Hiroki vows to avenge his sensei. But on the other hand, Hiroki is emotionally and romantically drawn to his lifelong friend Aiko. When the love for one and the hatred toward another split ways, what path should a ronin choose?

Of course, Trek to Yomi seeks to make this choice as hard as it can. It does so by immediately throwing you into the deep end of the emotional pool by making you believe you’ve failed as both a student and a companion. While defending your village – and thus Aiko – from raiding bandits, Hiroki is blinded to the setup, leaving town to seek out the bandit leader. When returning, Hiroki comes back to a burning village with most of its residents slaughtered, including the ones he loves most. As the name of the game already suggests, Hiroki must seek his vengeance in Yomi – the underworld – to find retribution.

And that takes us to some mighty places. Believe me when I say that Flying Wild Hog has done the Japanese culture justice. It almost makes up for the fun they poke at Asian culture with Shadow Warrior. But merely claiming that the Polish devs did it justice is selling it very short. Trek to Yomi is absolutely magnificent in its presentation. It almost gave me a “Japanese Dante’s Inferno meets LIMBO” vibe, fusing two of my all-time favorite adventure games together to become one masterpiece. Add a stellar voice cast to it all, and we have an absolute gem to work with.

But honestly, I do get the criticism. Many might conclude that Trek to Yomi gets so repetitive that it becomes a bore. And I can’t deny that the gameplay – which boils down to sword combat and an occasional puzzle – doesn’t really mix up a lot unless you go the extra mile. Besides timing your parry perfectly to avoid a potentially lethal flurry of strikes, all Hiroki gets is a handful of shurikens, a bow, and a boomstick, all with limited ammo. Therefore, combat doesn’t really vary too much once you discover the pattern of each enemy. An occasional boss fight might test your knowledge from time to time, but that’s about it.

But in the end, its repetitive character is also determined by you as a player. If you choose to hack your way through the 4-hour story by mashing the same button over and over… sure. But there are combos to gather by exploring the land. It’s not a must, but if you don’t, you’re basically limiting your own combat options.

And that’s where most players might lose interest in Trek to Yomi. Once more, I totally understand that and I’m not denying that it’s a possible deal-breaker. As is the camera angle, which can be an occasional pain in the ass. Getting stuck in the scenery happened more than once because of it. Scenery obstructing my view, enabling an enemy to get the first strike because he’s hidden behind it… also not helping. So yes, Trek to Yomi does have quite a few impurities, but that still doesn’t take away the fact that these are surmountable if you play the game for the right reason.

That reason should be the following: You want to be submerged by it. If you’re only into Trek to Yomi for the action, then yes, you will get bored. But if you’re thinking of picking it up for the vibe, the feel, and the splendiferous way it’s being presented, you won’t be disappointed. Trek to Yomi: it’s short, it’s repetitive, but my god… it’s mighty spec-Trek-ular.

Welcome to the Perfect Score Club, Flying Wild Hog. Your admittance might be scrutinized by others, but it’s well deserved in my opinion. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Short, repetitive, yet Spec-Trek-ular
The "sô desu"
Trek to Yomi has ambiance bursting out the seams
Feast your eyes on this piece of cinematographic excellence
Splendid Japanese voice acting
The story is the one thing that'll make you forget the imperfections
A very mild price for the amount of gameplay
The "dame!"
Combat can become very repetitive if you decide not to mix things up
The cinematic camera angles aren't always your ally
With 4 hours of gameplay, Trek to Yomi is fairly short if you rush through it