Skip to main content

Digital Trends may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site. Why trust us?

Trek to Yomi nails its Kurosawa aesthetic, but lacks edge

Akira Kurosawa’s films are, without any exaggeration, iconic. His style is easily recognizable, and the way that he directed movies has gone on to influence cinema long after his death in 1998. Games have even taken inspiration from Kurosawa, with the most obvious being Ghost of Tsushima, which has its own visual mode named after the director that drenches its otherwise vibrant, colorful world in grainy black and white.

Trek to Yomi - State of Play March 2022 Story Trailer | PS5, PS4

Trek to Yomi, the latest game from Flying Wild Hog and Devolver Digital (which is also publishing Weird West, an upcoming cowboy-themed RPG), is taking even more inspiration from Kurosawa than Ghost of Tsushima did. The entire game is in black and white, and its camera tries to capture his signature style by switching between various types of shots. From my short hands-on preview of Trek to Yomi, that much is obvious, but it doesn’t seem as invested in trying anything that’s too new from a gameplay standpoint.

Single samurai

Trek to Yomi kicks off simply enough, placing players somewhere in feudal Japan as a young samurai whose master is immediately killed off. Originality isn’t exactly the focus here, as everything is inspired by Kurosawa films or other Japanese movie tropes. Bloodthirsty bandits are the main enemy, the main character talks about fighting with honor — it all feels like it’s been done before and isn’t being done in a particularly new way here.

Credit where it’s due, though: Trek to Yomi is a treat to look at. The game itself incorporates Kurosawa-style long shots that constantly change perspectives, going from a close-up on its main character and then zooming out to a wide shot showing them walking down a massive staircase or across a field.

Combat scenes are specifically treated to some of the best camera work I’ve seen in games. One battle had  me on a bridge, and the camera immediately pivoted to show the entire bridge and the enemies on it, with dim, hazy light beaming through the smoke. It’s exciting, scene-setting stuff that your eyes immediately want to explore and absorb. Moments like these are when the game’s Kurosawa influences work for it the most.

Blood sprays as an enemy is dispatched with a sword in the black-and-white game Trek to Yomi.

Actually playing Trek to Yomi isn’t shaping up to be as exciting as just looking at it. Combat transforms the game’s 3D world to 2.5D, forcing you to fight on a single axis. You can move left or right, spin around to face enemies, attack or block — and that’s pretty much it. It’s not very deep, though it doesn’t have to be. Most of the enemies I fought in Trek to Yomi‘s first two chapters aren’t people as much as they are violent papier-mâché creations filled with bags of blood. With two simple swipes of your sword, they’re cut down and spurt out blood, which again, is straight from Kurosawa’s visual repertoire.

For me, it got to the point where most fights weren’t a challenge. Attacks can be influenced by the direction you point your controller’s left stick in, and switching it from up to down results in a lightning-fast two-swipe attack that quickly kills most foes. There are also heavy attacks, but they’re basically useless against basic enemies because of how long it takes to actually strike. Using this attack made the game’s throwable kunai, parries, and stamina system pretty much obsolete.

Hiroki sits in thought in a field with mountains in the background in Trek to Yomi.

After wrapping my preview of Trek to Yomi, I’m not immediately hooked. The game is prettier than it is fun to play, and that’s a big problem. There’s simply not enough variety present, and the combos that you slowly unlock by collecting items or simply progressing through the game aren’t exactly handy since you can tear through enemies as if they were paper. I can appreciate its Kurosawa influences, but it feels like just about every other part of Trek to Yomi has been left by the wayside.

Trek to Yomi is set to launch this year on PlayStation 4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC.

Editors' Recommendations

Otto Kratky
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Otto Kratky is a freelance writer with many homes. You can find his work at Digital Trends, GameSpot, and Gamepur. If he's…
Marvel’s Spider-Man 2 has instant open-world character switching
Peter and Miles perched next to each other in Marvel's Spider-Man 2.

Insomniac Games has finally confirmed whether or not players will be able to switch between the two playable versions of Spider-Man while exploring the open world of Marvel's Spider-Man 2.

Ever since it was confirmed that Peter Parker and Miles Morales would both be playable in Marvel's Spider-Man 2, the question of whether or not players would be able to switch between them at any time in the open world arose. Although Marvel's Spider-Man 2's gameplay debut at the PlayStation Showcase didn't confirm whether or not that was the case, Creative Director Bryan Intihar revealed the answer in an interview with Eurogamer: yes, you can. 
"We have content designed around Peter, we have content designed around Miles, and we have content where you can play either. You'll be able to -- in the open world -- freely switch between them with a simple button press," Intihar confirmed. Insomniac Games also confirmed to Eurogamer that Peter and Miles will each have their own skill tree, although they will also share a third. For the most part, it looks like players will have a lot of freedom about how and with whom they want to tackle any sort of open-world objectives or sidequests.
Things will get a little more restrictive during more linear story missions, like the one we saw during the PlayStation Showcase, though. "When you're playing the main story, we control when you switch between Pete and Miles ... it's done in service to the story when we're making those switches, for sure," Intihar told Eurogamer. "So, as you saw on that gameplay reveal, which is a segment of the main story, we are predetermining those based on what we want to do for how the story plays out."
Marvel's Spider-Man 2 will be released exclusively for PlayStation 5 sometime this fall.

Read more
The best games on PlayStation Plus, Extra, and Premium
A person plays Crash Bandicoot using a PS5 DualSense controller.

PlayStation Plus has gone through several iterations and changes since it was first introduced. Originally, the service wasn't required for online play at all and rewarded subscribers with extra discounts and free monthly games. Once the PlayStation 4 generation began, it was required for online play, but still offered those same benefits.

Now, PS Plus is divided into three different tiers of subscriptions. The basic tier, PS Plus Essential, still gets three games per month added, while the Extra and Premium tiers will have a varying number of games added to their catalogs. With hundreds of games already and more coming and going all the time, even the most dedicated gamer won't be able to play everything on offer. To help you get the most bang for your buck, and so that no hidden gems go under your radar, here are all the best games to play on PS Plus Essential, Extra, and Premium right now.

Read more
Wordle Today (#713): Wordle answer and hints for June 2
Someone playing Wordle on a smartphone.

Scratching your head looking for today's Wordle answer? We have the solution to Wordle (#713) on June 2, as well as some helpful hints to help you figure out the answer yourself right here. We've placed the answer at the bottom of the page, so we don't ruin the surprise before you've had a chance to work through the clues. So let's dive in, starting with a reminder of yesterday's answer.
Yesterday's Wordle answer
Let's start by first reminding ourselves of yesterday's Wordle answer for those new to the game or who don't play it daily, which was "jazzy." So we can say that the Wordle answer today definitely isn't that. Now, with that in mind, perhaps take another stab at it using one of these Wordle starting words and circle back if you have no luck.
Hints for today's Wordle
Still can't figure it out? We have today's Wordle answer right here, below. But first, one more thing: Let's take a look at three hints that could help you find the solution, without giving it away, so there's no need to feel guilty about keeping your streak alive -- you put in some work, after all! Or just keep scrolling for the answer.

Today’s Wordle starts with the letter H.
Today’s Wordle uses two vowels, but not in succession.
Today's Wordle relates to the weather.

Read more