Yomawari: Midnight Shadows

Game review by
David Wolinsky, Common Sense Media
Yomawari: Midnight Shadows Game Poster Image
Cutesy horror game can be alternately tense, vague.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Central message is to take risks to help, even save those you love. But you frequently put yourself in harm's way, which leaves you and your loved ones potentially in danger.

Positive Role Models & Representations

It's admirable to risk life and limb for those you care about, but it's notable that no characters think to tell others to notify authorities.

Ease of Play

Easy controls, forgiving save system. Only major obstacle in completing game is frequently retracing your steps.

Violence

Shows dark thematic elements: a young girl hanging herself on a rope, bodies falling, splattering to ground. Large pools of blood frequently shown around town; ghostly creatures can be seen dripping with blood. Handful of sequences show severed hands in large blood stains.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

It's a follow-up to a 2016 game, so players may be inclined to investigate, buy first game of this series. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Yomawari: Midnight Shadows is a horror adventure that's the follow-up sequel to the 2016 cult hit Yomawari: Night Alone. Although this is a survival horror game, you won't be fighting monsters but instead figuring out how to run away or otherwise dodge or distract them. That said, there's a fair amount of violence, with the depiction of a suicide, large pools of blood frequently appearing, and even amputated limbs. Otherwise, there's no inappropriate content.

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What's it about?

YOMAWARI: MIDNIGHT SHADOWS takes place at the end of the summer vacation for two young girls, who visit a mountain clearing to watch the evening fireworks. As night falls and the fireworks end, their hometown becomes enveloped in darkness. On their journey home, something lunges from the shadows to attack, and the two girls find themselves lost in the dark. Separated and afraid, the girls must brace themselves for the terrors of the night, and face the darkness to find each other and make their way home.

Is it any good?

Even if you aren't a fan of horror games, this one is well worth a look because of its strange infusion of cuteness while also making you feel lonely and small. This is a game of few words, and arguably one that doesn't ask much more of you than to feel small. You can't fight enemies. Puzzles you solve are little more than just having the right item at the right time. The challenge lies in finding your way around a massive town at night, your progress impeded by Midnight Shadow's commendable sound design. With nearly no score to pad the mood, all you'll hear are your character's heartbeat, which thumps louder and louder as enemies draw closer, before you finally start to hear one of the game's many monsters drawing nearby. The where and when, and whether you noticed a place to hide nearby before, is the main draw of this game, making for a very streamlined cat-and-mouse kind of vibe. One in which you are never the cat. 

That dynamic is what the entire game hinges on, and if it doesn't thrill you early on, it never will. This, along with the translation being a little coy sometimes (the game was a Japanese title originally), makes exploration feel aimless and confusing instead of purposeful and goal-oriented. One could argue that this enhances the suspense and dread, but some players may be annoyed and find the lack of clarity about your goals -- and the great distance to cover in achieving them -- needlessly off-putting. As such, Midnight Shadows doesn't have a ton of depth, but it does have an enjoyable, tense ride for a couple of hours before it comes to an end.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about this game's strange mix of cute and horror. Why do you think this makes the overall experience more ominous? Does it affect how you play? Why or why not? 

  • You can't play this game without realizing its Japanese origins and influences. How do you notice that Japanese culture approaches horror, versus how other cultures do? Why do you think there are differences? 

Game details

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