GamingYomawari: Lost In The Dark

Yomawari: Lost In The Dark


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I’m a notorious scaredy-cat. I do however enjoy survival horror: those few games like Resident Evil and Evil Within where you have the resources in order to deal with the horror straight on, and gradually there is a shift in the power dynamic as your growing arsenal merges with your growing game knowledge and you begin to trivialize encounters.

Yomawari is firmly in the style of horror games which freak me out: no weapons, no means by which to defend yourself; just evade and hope for the best. I am often too scared to ever beat these games (let alone become competent at playing them), but Yomawari was just beguiling enough to get me to the end with my sanity in tact.


The first thing you’ll see when booting up the game is a warning saying you should not play this game if you have any concerns for your mental health. This is not the most mollifying thing to read for someone as scared as myself, and it’s a great way to immediately get you to second guess every plot point and let your mind run away with you in the opening hours.

Unfortunately this warning is practically hollow. While there are a few fairly dark points in the story, there is nothing so shocking as to warrant this message. However, I’m more than willing to accept that this is just indicative of how desensitized I’ve become to many of the themes this game covers. Your mileage may vary.

As for the actual story: you play as the customizable character known as Yazu. You are a student at a Japanese school who is inexplicably reviled and teased by the rest of the students. This is an immediately isolating feeling. You are tormented continuously as you make your way to class. Upon actually getting to class and sitting down, you are confronted by a group of students and made to eat a worm. You have the option to either eat it or not, but the option to refuse is scribbled out.

After this, you are seen on the roof of the school as the camera pans up, and then back down to show nothing but your shoes. You then find yourself in a forest and after making your way past some spooky scenery, you are approached by a green haired character who claims you know each other. As hackneyed as it is, your character has amnesia.

After you tough your way through the tutorial, you are left to your own devices in a version of your home town which has become infested with yokai (demonic Japanese spirits). You are then tasked with finding 7 key items which will allow you to escape this nightmare.

The main issue with the story and exposition in this game is that the game has a rotten habit of stopping you dead in your tracks and playing out an in-game cutscene. And not just for main story events, but it can at times feel as though the game doesn’t want you playing it at all. There’s no voice acting, so there’s no reason for these smaller story dumps to not just be dialogue which appears as you play. This kills tension in some sections because you know damn well the game isn;t going to throw anything at you in a cutscene.

In Restless Dreams, I See That Town

Okay, that’s the only Silent Hills reference I’ll make.

The game open up considerably once you reach the town (which I was not expecting); however, there are still limits on where you can go. Like a Metroidvania, certain sections are cordoned off and you must instead beat the current part of the town before you can progress. This was somewhat disappointing, but maybe unreasonably so. I was just hoping that my worst fear would come to pass and I’d just be stuck in this open world filled with monsters.

In exploring the section I was allowed in I came across around half a dozen mysterious coins and about the same number of rocks. These collectible rocks are, at least theoretically, supposed to allow you to distract enemies; however, in the 9 or 10 hours it took me to beat this game, I recall using this successfully twice. The yokai either ignore the rocks, or reposition themselves in the most minute way so as to still be able to catch you if you run past.

The coins are another problem. Every time you die you will respawn at your house. This potential annoyance is mitigated by checkpoints. The checkpoints in this game are little statues which have to be activated with the use of a coin. This was the most terrifying thing I ran into the entire game as the only thing stronger than my fear is my loss aversion.

This dread dissipated immediately though as I walked not 20 steps from a checkpoint only to find another one, and another one not far beyond that. This seems fine as surely there aren’t enough coins in the game to be able to activate all, or even half of these, but no. By this point I had around 8 coins, and by the end of the entire game I must have had 10+ spares. There is never a reason not to use a coin, and you are almost always a stones throw away from a checkpoint. This killed the tension of exploration pretty quickly and pretty early.

Please Move Faster

The actual controls of Yomawari are pretty simple: you have a frightfully slow run with a stamina bar, a way to pick up and then throw certain items, and the ability to close both of your eyes by holding the triggers.

This last one is the one truly terrifying thing in this game. Almost every enemy in the game will ignore you so long as your eyes are closed. Your goal at this point is to make it to wherever you’re going without touching any of those enemies (indicated on the screen by vague plumes of red mist). This is where the lion’s share of tension comes from, and it’s where the tension would stay if it weren’t for one thing: you move incomprehensibly slowly when your eyes are closed.

This is no problem in the tutorial, as enemies will almost never move, but the second you get to moving enemies, the exploration in the game immediately devolves into trial and error. Your character simply moves, and adjusts to changes in movement, too slowly to react to many of the enemies in said environment.

I would largely classify this as a skill issue on my end, as I have very little experience with these cat and mouse styles of horror games, but this issue is exacerbated even further by the boss fights. Most of the main fights in this game are purely trial and error. I have a theory about these kinds of non-combative horror games: something is scary the first time you encounter it, scary the first time you die to it, but the moment you die to it a second time, it becomes irritating.

This may not be a universal truth, but it’s certainly true for me. I find it nearly impossible to become scared or nervous around an incomprehensible eldritch horror if they’ve already killed me twice.

Terror in a Cozy Town

I’ve been fairly negative so far, and while I do have a number of issues with the bosses and enemy encounters, the one thing this game nails is its atmosphere.

Along with the mental health warning at the beginning of the game, it also makes sure to emphasize how important sound is in this game. Outside of horror games, sound is often the last thing you think of, it’s just what you throw in towards the end of development. The sound design in Yomawari is fantastic.

From the rush of the wind in the forest, to the hum of the street and store lights in the town, to the soft sounds of whatever hell happened to be lurking just out of sight, whenever I found the tension seeping out of the room, the sound design was always there to barricade the windows and lock all the doors.

I haven’t spoken much about the enemy design, but the yokai are so unique. The closest I’ve come to Japanese horror is Ghostwire Tokyo, and it’s so refreshing to see a host of monsters that are so culturally distinct that I never would have even dreamt of them had I not seen them here. You receive a flashlight at the beginning of the game and there are even yokai which are invisible unless you are shining your light at them. The discovery of this had me whipping the right stick around like a madman for the next 8 hours.

When you enter one of the main areas in order to get one of the 7 pieces needed to end the nightmare, the game becomes a lot more linear but also a lot more exact. There are a number of environmental puzzles in these sections which really helped me to appreciate the slower moments all the more.


Yomawari: Lost in The Dark is apparently the third game in the Yomawari franchise. I didn’t know this until I had to find images for this review, so I really can’t speak as to how much you will get out of this game if you’ve already played the others.

All I can say is that, from the perspective of a newcomer, this is a good game with issues that are all the more baffling once you realize it’s the third game in a franchise. Don’t be deterred from picking this one up if you’re interested though, none of the games are related beyond their themes and designs, so you won’t need to scour Youtube for any 3 hour lore videos before starting.

Yomawari is a beautiful, unique game with a heavy atmosphere and a competent story, but it’s weighed down by too many gamplay issues to warrant paying the $40. Unless you are a pre-established Yomawari fan, or are just in love with this genre of horror, I would wait for a sale, or even scoop up the other games instead.


+ Beautiful art style
+ Unique monster designs
+ Excellent sound design
+ Some fantastic puzzles

- Items are either useless or overly necessary and abundant
- Checkpoints are far too frequent
- Bosses are almost pure trial and error
- Lackluster story and themes

Reviewed on Switch, also available on PS4, PS5, and PC
Daniel Kelly
Daniel Kelly
A man forever in search of a game to surpass Metal Gear.

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+ Beautiful art style <br/> + Unique monster designs <br/> + Excellent sound design <br/> + Some fantastic puzzles <br/><br/> - Items are either useless or overly necessary and abundant <br/> - Checkpoints are far too frequent <br/> - Bosses are almost pure trial and error <br/> - Lackluster story and themes <br/><br/> Reviewed on Switch, also available on PS4, PS5, and PCYomawari: Lost In The Dark