Arts

Games: Groundhog slay - Trek to Yomi is easy on the eyes but outstays its welcome

Neil McGreevy

Trek to Yomi (Multi)

By: Devolver

SAY what you like about Christianity, the pension plan's good. Unlike the concept of Yomi, where rather than an all-expenses trip to heaven, we're doomed to rot in eternal darkness. As a result, the depressing Shinto belief has all but died out in modern Japan - though it was central to the romanticised image of the samurai, and Trek to Yomi's sword-swinging shenanigans in the afterlife.

Kicking off with young Hiroki as a whelp in training, the game follows our roamin' ronin as both man and boy as he seeks revenge on the bandits who slaughtered his sensei. Blending Shinto mythology and Kurosawa cinema, things take a turn halfway through when Hiroki takes a dirt nap and must battle his way through the Japanese land of the dead.

A samurai side-scroller that wears its cinematic influences on its baggy sleeve, Trek to Yomi offers left to right chop-socky action and occasional poking around for secret areas, which often brim with upgrades, collectibles and ammo.

With a focus on parrying, dodging and staggering, Hiroki combines light and heavy attacks with blocks and rolls, and giving bandits a bellyful of blade is a strictly 2.5D affair, where you manually change your direction to fend off attacks from both sides.

Armed only with a katana at first, Hiroki will acquire new weapons and dole out more fanciful moves as the game progress, though you'll fall back on the same two or three to get the job done. But with bandits lining up to attack you one at a time, repetitiveness creeps in quickly as you groundhog slay through the same bunch of hooligans ad nauseum. You can off most of Yomi's foes - including bosses - by simply hammering away at the buttons in a game that offers the depth of a mobile freebie, albeit one gussied up with gorgeous graphics.

Kneeling at the altar of Kurosawa, Yomi's grainy black and white visuals are slathered in cinematic gloss, with moody lighting and cinematically framed set-pieces, including one which plays out in silhouette as Hiroki fights behind screens.

At £16, it won't break the bank, but even at a slim four hours, Trek to Yomi outstays its welcome. To samuraise, Trek to Yomi's eye-catching brand of monochrome murder has plenty of Kurosawa cap doffing, but much like the cast of Love Island, while easy on the eyes, it's ultimately rather dull.

Yomi, Yomi, Yomi, I've got love in my tummy, but I don't feel like a-lovin' you.

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