I’ve got a confession to make.
I’ve been largely avoiding the gaming community for the past couple of months. This is due mostly to a certain discourse I knew was going to rear its ugly head.
While I appreciate the conversations people have been having regarding the difficulty in games, I realized that I hated being a part of it pretty early into this cycle.
But it’s time to spring forth like a bushido samurai in wait because Devolver Digital’s Trek to Yomi has reminded me of my complex relationship with difficulty.
I’m a warrior for access
As someone who has lived his whole life with a hand tremor resulting in lowered hand-eye coordination, precision and reaction time, I’ve always wanted to be a surgeon.
All right! I’m kidding! Your brain, heart and other organs are safe!
On that topic, though, it’s meant that a lot of stuff has never appealed to me, particularly a lot of things in gaming.
So when Bobby asked me if I wanted to take Trek to Yomi, specifically with a certain discourse still harming my mental health, I wasn’t sure I was in a good place for a game where timing and coordination are measured on a sword’s edge.
It turns out I needed Trek to Yomi more than I thought I did.
Trek to Yomi leaves a lasting impression
Trek to Yomi is a samurai precision slasher that perfectly nails the samurai showdown film aesthetic with a warm and grainy film-noir filter placed atop high-resolution character models that feel exceedingly human for a world lacking colour.
Now on my second full playthrough of the roughly 45-minute playthrough, which took me two hours at first, I still find myself wondering if I’m not simply controlling real-life actors?
From the looks of the demo, Trek to Yomi gives you four samurai-themed difficulty levels that differ in the amount of time they give you to parry oncoming attacks and the amount of damage you and foes take.
I began with the second-highest difficulty, feeling like I was in a good place for a challenge, although maybe hating myself just a little bit as well.
I really struggled with the opening act, where a gang of raiders besieged your farming community. Playing as a child with low health and stamina and not knowing the patterns of enemies, I struggled and considered restarting on a lower difficulty.
Learn from your Mistakes
But as I died repeatedly, I learned my foe and ways to fell them. The hit of excitement with each final breath I struck forth had me excited beyond belief. And I’m really glad I stuck it out because it helped me come to a realization of the demo: It got really easy. Now, I will say that while there appears in the early game to be a quite severe difficulty dip, which caught me somewhat off guard… well, specifically on guard, I am still not convinced this will always be the case.
As time with the demo went on, I found myself having so much stamina and health that I was able to almost just hold a block right up until I had an opening or take a hit and then use a healing-granting finisher move to take more hits. Suddenly, I felt too good at my trek., but I also realize I’ve only played a 45-minute, two-act demo with a handful of enemy types that included a basic attacker, one focused on speedy thrust attacks and a hard-hitting armoured fiend.
So, for now, I’m going to take the positive feelings I have about being a bad-ass bushido samurai and hold onto them because I can use that pride. But my desire to spring right into Trek to Yomi is as black and white as the game itself. Simply put, this game doesn’t look like one you should be fearful of. Don’t let it pass you by when it marches in sometime later in 2022.
[This impression article is based on a preview build offered by the publisher]