It's been over a year since its PlayStation Vita release, and only several months from its Steam release earlier this year, but The Firefly Diary has come and gone. Thankfully, the team that made that game has been working on two other small atmospheric titles. One of these games is Yomawari: Night Alone, which will make you love survival horror games again. There's no nostalgia baiting, no real technical issues, and it actually looks beautiful, too. Of course, it plays beautifully as well.
Yomawari: Night Alone is about a little girl walking their dog home for the evening. An incident happens, and rather than being forthcoming about the girl's incident, her older sister goes out to look for the dog. The only problem is that she takes far too long to come back. Concerned, she goes to look for her wayward sister, only to find the Japanese countryside has fallen to the forces of the undead. Or, perhaps, the girl become swallowed up by an alternate nightmare dimension.
As you go on your probably fruitless quest for your sister and dog, you'll encounter all manners of horrible creatures that you can't fight back against. Your only means of staying alive are to run and hide, or at least use items to distract monsters so you can slip away. The last method is to turn off your flashlight, and some enemies react to it. You can also tiptoe around, which also acts like a strafe mechanic. Be aware that most enemies need the light shining on them to be visible, though.
As most of the world is covered in darkness, the level of tension is high, especially with the constant thumping of her frenzied heartbeats. The girl also has a stamina meter that is affected by how stressed she is. It's best to run in short bursts once an enemy notices you, or else you will likely be killed. At least the only penalty for death is that you will start from the position of your last save. You can also reemerge via a quick save, which is done by giving coins to a Jizo statue as an offering. (Go look up Shintoism to understand the significance of that if you aren't familiar with aspects of Japanese culture.) Even if you don't have a coin, you can warp to any of the other statues that you've visited in the world map.
There's not much wrong with Yomawari: Night Alone that makes one wish to avoid it. Even on the Vita, the game's framerate is consistent and smooth. The Steam version has a decent selection of resolutions to choose from, but it doesn't cover everything. (The visuals are slightly improved, however.) Its art direction is so good, it's harder to notice these issues. Playing with a GamePad setup is seemingly better, as the button for the flashlight is located in a place that's easier to reach compared to the Vita.
Aside from the port work, the 2D art is beautiful, and while the game lacks a real music track, it's filled with lots of foreboding ambiance. The sound effects will set anyone on edge, especially if you play the game in the dark. It's a game that's as delightful as it is scary, and for gore-phobics, it's light on that stuff. Yomawari has a nice mix of Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Clock Tower, while still being it's own thing. All this lends to a solid experience that hopefully rekindle what survival horror is all about.
The Good: The creepy foreboding atmosphere is accented by beautiful artwork.
The Bad: Wishing that there was a way to at least stun the monsters.
The Ugly: Those giant spider-like monsters are nightmare fuel.
SUMMARY: Yomawari: Night Alone is a fun, cute, and creepy adventure-horror game for the Vita and Windows PC.
Promotional consideration made by NIS America