A beguiling atmosphere isn’t enough to save Yuoni from the monotony of Run and Hide gameplay

A beguiling atmosphere isn't enough to save Yuoni from the monotony of Run and Hide gameplay

Given the abundance of folklore, mythology, and the like available, it’s a little disappointing when yet another horror game chooses a cursed ghost kid/woman as its vehicle. Especially when the game itself is just another round of ‘hide while defenseless.’ Yuoni from Tricore Inc is both of these characteristics, putting it in an unpleasant situation before its first text crawl.

A beguiling atmosphere isn’t enough to save Yuoni from the monotony of Run and Hide gameplay

It’s no longer enough to have a “interesting take” on the popular frightening run-and-hide sub-genre, because most of the good concepts have already been grabbed and executed brilliantly. So, what exactly does Yuoni have to offer? Many games of this genre are content to keep things dark and frightening, sometimes offering fleeting views of their dreary halls with flashes of lightning. Yuoni has plenty of darkness, but the hazy orange lighting that seeps from the building’s outside windows creates such a striking atmosphere. It all connects into the concept of ‘The Golden Hour,’ a time when the curtain between our world and the spirit realm is at its thinnest, which is a very reasonable justification for Yuoni’s setting. It was undoubtedly a motivating factor in learning more about the game. Yuoni, the playful spirit’s game, is essentially a game of hide and seek while gathering items and dodging fuzzy apparitions known as’shadow people’ along the way.

As a youngster, you have no way of protecting yourself if you are suddenly thrown into a scenario, and you must step carefully as you explore the building to avoid enraging the hostile creatures. Fortunately, they can’t see you very clearly. Unfortunately, they can hear you extremely clearly, even when you are breathing, which is terrible given the importance of respiration. Staying out of physical touch with the spirits is usually enough to convince them to disregard anything you say, but if they’re truly on the hunt, you’ll need to use the major gaming tool…holding your breath. When you do this, a meter will start counting down how long you can hold your breath. You can also ‘charge up’ this meter by hitting R1 and L1, just in case the fight drags on longer than anticipated. It’s interesting and unsettling that while I was trying to be quiet in-game, I was actually creating loud, repeated clacking noises as I hammered away at those triggers.

Yes, it’s a nitpick, but a softer approach could have been better for preserving Yuoni’s atmosphere. Tsun, the game’s spirit, appears on sometimes, hunting for you in order to ‘win the game.’ Tsun sticks out among the spirits, with his sinister crimson pulsing glow and unnervingly calm attitude to locating you. Other encounters become tedious after a while, going through the same old processes as many a horror game before it, but Tsun at least adds a layer of mystery. As I indicated at the beginning of this review, Yuoni was a long shot from the start, and while I don’t think the game has many flaws and does offer some variety in its unending nightfall, far too much of how it plays has been done before, and done better. The monotonous repetition of fleeing, hiding, and waiting over and over again simply to get a fraction of a story dispels any eerie charm it may have.

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