Somehow five years have already passed since the last Yomawari release – Midnight Shadows – and besides the time passing too quickly, I enjoyed that game a good bit. Super atmospheric, a large world to explore, and some decent puzzles too. Lost in the Dark though? Well, I’m not so sure.
Starting with the atmosphere – yet again easily the game’s best point. It is quite literally the same as it was five years ago: limited lighting, grainy world design, absolutely creepy yokai roaming about, and ambient sound design in place of a traditional soundtrack. For the type of story being told here, all of this works in the game’s favor. It’s creepy to just walk around exploring and there’s the occasional jump scare or two on top of that.
So on that aspect, the game is absolutely solid. But that said, I was a bit disappointed that there’s really nothing “new” to differentiate the feel from the last release. It uses the same audio and graphical assets, has a very similar world design, and somehow feels a bit more empty.
In fact, one of the things I praised in the last release was that large world, but because that one had a bunch of little stuff to find and achievements to unlock by exploring. This game has some of that, yes, but it doesn’t quite match the extent of the former and honestly, it became boring to have to trek across identical, empty areas just to get to the next story objective.
And unfortunately this downgrade extends to the gameplay as well. I won’t make the case that Midnight Shadows was super involved there, but I can’t help but feel that Lost in the Dark took it even further down. Most of the gameplay involves running around, picking up items to get you to the next area, and then repeating. In fact, the first two “dungeons” or whatever were literally me searching however many rooms for a key or other item, picking it up and bringing it to unlock or activate something, and then repeating that in the newly unlocked area.
It’s back and forth busywork and maybe I’ve become less tolerant of such gameplay, but the last one had a bit of this too, it just didn’t feel like to this extent. When you do get to a cool part – the boss encounters – those last maybe a few minutes before you have to cycle through the next hour or so of searching and pressing your one button to interact with things. There are items to pick up and throw, but they are not even utilized beyond being a simple distraction for the yokai for some seconds – very disappointing.
So really, if you’re playing this, you’re playing it for the atmosphere and the story – the latter of which isn’t even that bad. A bit barebones, yes, but it’s a slow and creepy amnesia mystery that fits this aesthetic perfectly and emphasizes its strengths. Otherwise, it’s a slog.
On the performance front the game is fine. I ran it at 4k 60 fps with no issues to speak of, although the settings are limited to just simple window and resolution options. Controls are simple enough that you can get away with doing keyboard and mouse – and there’s even mouse support in the menus – but it plays way better on controller and that is what I opted to use for my playthrough.
Overall though, I cannot in good faith recommend Yomawari: Lost in the Dark. The last game – Midnight Shadows – may have been fun enough, but this is somehow worse while adding nothing really new. Great atmosphere, but with the same assets. A large open world to explore, but nothing really rewarding to find. A decently interesting story, but matched with some seriously tedious gameplay that left me bored after just a couple hours. Maybe in a bundle or on deep sale – but for now it’s not worth it.
Quote: Yomawari: Lost in the Dark is somehow worse than the last game (which was good!) while adding nothing really new. The story may be interesting, but the gameplay is some seriously tedious stuff.
Yomawari: Lost in the Dark retails for $40 USD on Steam. It is also available on PS4 and Switch.
I was provided a review copy of the game in order to write this review. Read more about how I do my game reviews here.