This is a dark, violent game all about combat. In Trek to Yomi, you wield a katana to strike at enemies, defend yourself, and counter attacks with a steadily increasing repertoire of combos that are kept simple and intuitive. These allow you to not only strike at enemies with greater speed and succession, but also move between them with greater finesse via rolls and reversals. Unfortunately, parrying doesn't work well because it's hard to tell which attacks can be blocked, which can mess up your flow of attacks and feels clunky. But it's a small issue for otherwise robust sword fighting that's complemented by an equally compelling opposition. Samurai are par for the course, but other characters wield bows, spears, and throwing knives that force players to close the distance or use ranged weapons of their own. As you journey through forests, towns, and mountains, upgrades can be found off the beaten path that improve attributes like ammo capacity or health, which are great incentives to look for alternative paths and find collectible items.
Trek to Yomi is a heavily guided experience. You move in one general direction, apart from occasional shortcuts to find hidden secrets. These make the game feel a little less linear, but sadly, there's not much else to do that enlivens the journey. There are a handful of pattern puzzles to solve that move objects out of the way, but they feel like afterthoughts. It would've been nice if there had been more level design with platforming in mind that test precision with running and rolling. Despite gameplay feeling constrained in notable ways outside combat, this is a carefully crafted, cinematic feast of photorealistic graphics that perfectly capture the film language of acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa. The game truly feels like playing one of his movies, even narratively as well with a classic samurai tale that reworks classic themes and tropes with a neat mythological twist that incorporates real Japanese mythology about the underworld. All the associated production design with voice acting, sound effects, and music is stellar in bringing all this to life. While Trek to Yomi may not push any boundaries with its gameplay or story, it bleeds passion with every moment in its impeccable presentation, which is worth experiencing for that reason alone.