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Thursday, August 19, 2021

[Review] A Bewitching Atmosphere Can’t Save ‘Yuoni’ From Tired ‘Run and Hide’ Gameplay

Given the wealth of folklore, mythology, and the like there is to choose from, it’s starting to get a little underwhelming when yet another horror game selects cursed ghost kid/woman as its vessel. More so when the game itself ends up being another dose of ‘hide while defenseless’.

Tricore Inc’s Yuoni is both of those things, and that puts it in an unenviable position before its opening text crawl. It’s no longer enough to just have an ‘interesting take’ on the extremely prevalent spooky run and hide sub-genre, as most of the good ideas have been taken and done well already. So what can Yuoni offer exactly? 

Yuoni bets big on its premise, a folk tale about a ghost of a child that can be summoned by submerging a doll in a bucket of water, and if you can win its game of ‘Yuoni’ it will grant you a wish. In this particular tale, a group of students dare each other to summon the spirit, and end up doing just that. So begins a trawl through a long-abandoned, and very haunted, school building lit only by a bright orange perpetual sunset.

While Yuoni’s premise is indeed intriguing, its atmosphere is key. The neverending glow of sunset makes for a truly eye-catching visual choice, giving it a distinct style. Many games of its ilk are happy to keep it dark and spooky, maybe offer brief glimpses of their dreary halls with flashes of lightning, Yuoni has plenty of darkness, but there’s such an impressive atmosphere in that hazy orange glow that radiates through the building’s outer windows. It all ties into the idea of ‘The Golden Hour’, a time when the veil between our world and the spirit world is at its thinnest, and that’s a pretty good excuse for Yuoni’s setup. It was certainly a helpful incentive in going through what the game actually is.

The playful spirit’s game of ‘Yuoni’ is basically hide and seek whilst collecting things and avoiding blurry apparitions known as ‘shadow people’ along the way. As a child yourself, thrust into a situation without warning, you naturally have no means of defending yourself, and must tread carefully as you explore the building to avoid pissing the malevolent entities off. Luckily, they can’t actually see you all that well. Unluckily, they can very much hear you, even when you breathe, which is unfortunate, what with breathing being essential and all. Most of the time just staying out of physical contact with the spirits is enough to get them to ignore anything they hear, but if they’re really on the hunt, then the main gameplay tool comes into play…holding your breath.

Doing this starts off a meter that shows how long you can hold your breath for. You can also ‘charge up’ this meter by tapping R1 and L1, just in case the encounter feels like it’s going to last longer than expected. It’s amusing, and a little jarring, that in-game, I was trying to be silent, yet in reality, I’m making loud, repeated clacking noises as I tapped away at those triggers. Yes, it’s a bit of a nitpick quieter way of handling that might have been better for retaining Yuoni’s atmosphere.

The spirit behind this game, Tsun, pops up intermittently, searching for you in order to ‘win the game’. Unlike the other spirits, Tsun stands out, with his ominous red pulsing glow and unnervingly passive approach to finding you. Other encounters got to be repetitive before long, going through the same old motions of many a horror game before it, but Tsun at least offers up a little more uncertainty.

As I mentioned at the top of the review, Yuoni was on a hiding to nothing from the start, and while I don’t feel the game has much wrong with it, and offers some freshness in its endless dusk, far too much of how it plays has been done to death, and done better. What haunting enchantment it holds is dispelled by the dull monotony of running, hiding, and waiting over and over again just to get a sliver of a story.

Yuoni review code for PS5 provided by the publisher.

Yuoni is out now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One/X/S and PC.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/video-games/3679020/review-bewitching-atmosphere-cant-save-yuoni-tired-run-hide-gameplay/

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