Seems like horror game aficionados have been spoiled for choice these days. Sure, a lot of those games are me-too indie takes on titles that made a splash, like Amnesia: The Dark Descent, but originality isn’t a requirement for a solid game. Take Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, for instance, which relies on a similar hide-and-seek gameplay style as Amnesia but manages to amp up the creepiness with its deceptively adorable art style and exceptional sound. Those of you who enjoyed the original Yomawari: Night Alone should find this to be the perfect second helping of pants-wetting terror.
Haru is moving away! Her friend Yui is distraught. They need to make the most of their remaining time together. How, though? Well, I don’t know that sneaking around through a dark town full of horrific spirit monsters out for blood was really what they had in mind, but it looks like that’s what we’re going with. I guess if someone gets eaten then the problem’s still solved…right?
Much as in the previous game, you’ll control one of the girls as they explore their town at night, armed with a flashlight and doing your best to stay away from the many denizens of the darkness. You’ve got some items to help out, like coins for saving and pebbles for distraction, and some new gear called Charms with passive effects to make things somewhat easier, but either way combat isn’t really an option. Instead, when a spirit sees you or is in the way, you’ll want to hop into the nearest hiding spot and wait them out. Midnight Shadows aims to be tense rather than difficult, aside from the odd boss battle, so it’s never especially difficult to sneak around – at least, it seems that way after the fact when you aren’t on the verge of being killed.
Cute graphics aside, this is not one for the kids – the tone is pitch black almost immediately (recall how the tutorial in the first game ended and you’ve got the idea) and doesn’t really let up, though it manages this level of grimdark without resorting to excessive gore. A video game…being subtle? Yeah, I was surprised too. Likewise, the excellent sound design adds to the oppressive atmosphere, and if you’ve got some headphones you’re well advised to turn the lights off and wear them while playing Midnight Shadows.
This sort of horror-sneaker has been popular as of late and for good reason; it’s hard to achieve real terror if you’re capable of defending yourself, and the sort of patience necessary for effective stealth is harder to muster when things are quite this tense. Yomawari: Midnight Shadows takes your offensive tools away and tasks you with running around like a scared little mouse. If that’s the kind of experience you’re into, then this one’s hard to beat.