Yomawari: Lost In The Dark
Yomawari 3 focuses on Yuzu who had awoken in an unfamiliar dark forest. She has no recollection on how she got there, with her last memories being that she went to the school's rooftop at sunset when the school day was over.
Yomawari: Lost in the Dark
As she wanders around in the dark forest, she cross paths with a strange figure with no form. It claims that Yuzu had been cursed and she needs to remember a forgotten memory in order to break that curse. With no other choice, Yuzu will explore this haunted town at night in order to find these lost memories in hopes of breaking this curse.
The visuals and gameplay in the Yomawari series are so simplistic that they used to be cited in indie games columns in Famitsu. You control a young boy or girl (in isometric 3D) who roams a city late night, which of course proves to be incredibly dangerous. Numerous ghosts & demons roam the city as well, and you need to avoid them while searching the town for your memories. You gain one memory when finding a lost item belonging to your character. All of these items are needed to lift the curse that is falling upon you... and the clock is ticking.
Yomawari: Lost in the Dark does indeed look like your average indie game, thanks to modest backgrounds and basic animations. Yet it punches above your average horror game's weight in terms of atmosphere and scare. The game is almost entirely silent. This lack of background music aims at creating a false impression of security, which inevitably provokes great jump scares when the silence is eventually broken. Eerie sounds can be heard around every corner of the map (chilling laughter, indecipherable mumbling, cries of agony...), but the anguishing part is that you can't always see the source of the sound. Some ghosts can only be seen by pointing the torchlight at them, and most places are very dark, which puts you on edge.
Besides all the face-offs against ghosts, Yomawari: Lost in the Dark also gives a great taste of exploration. You have to find seven lost childhood items, but sometimes there are next to no hints for them - you might have to find a particular object or person in the whole city in order to unlock the path to the next dungeon. Adventurers will appreciate this focus on discovery and lightning up the entire map. There are also some clever puzzles along the way too.
Nippon Ichi's deceptively cute survival horror returns in Yomawari: Lost In The Dark, and like its predecessors, its art direction belies a darker story of the occult and spirits. Players will follow a young schoolgirl who is being bullied and seeks sanctuary on the school roof, only to fall asleep and awaken in a mysterious and darkly vignetted world. Coming, the protagonist finds out she is cursed and the only way she can return is by finding all her memories. If she fails to collect her memories by morning, she is fated to run from the unleashed spirits in the town forever.
Yomawari: Lost In The Dark, follows its predecessor's footsteps by offering a thrilling adventure through the winding, dark streets of a nameless town inhabited by unsavory spirits whose sole purpose is to scare the life out of the protagonist. Players will be armed with a flashlight, the few items they find while exploring and their nerves to collect the protagonist's memories. And these tips of course.
However, death isn't a major setback. Players should get used to the idea of dying, picking themselves up by the bootstraps and continuing onward. Traversing back to where the player died can be quick and easy, and thankfully no items are lost on death. The only time death is a problem is when the last save was a while ago and quite a trek away.
Following the tradition established by the prequels, Yomawari continues to create childlike maps for its games. Rendered in crayon and thick black lines, the drawing of a map is a crude one, and it can be easy to get lost when navigating the game's streets.
This game provides examples of: Achievement Mockery: The "Indomitable" achievement is gotten by dying 30 times.
To get the "Look Both Ways" achievement, you need to ignore the crosswalk signal on the way to the bamboo forest. Predictably, this will kill Yuzu.
Amnesiac Hero: Yuzu can recall her name and remembers her cat Mugi, but has trouble recalling anything else. As her memories are the key to lifting her curse, the entire crux of the game is to regain her memories. Not helping is the fact that she's subconsciously suppressing some of her memories.
And Your Reward Is Clothes: If you return to plot-relevant areas and do favors for the spirits there, they'll give Yuzu a clothing item (usually a hair accessory, but not always) as a way to say thanks.
Bittersweet Ending: Even after everything they've done Kotori cannot be cured of her curse and stays behind in the forest despite Yuzu's pleas. However, Yuzu's curse is cured and grows more confident in herself.
Breaking Old Trends: The player is given a degree of Character Customization, allowing the player to choose Yuzu's name, hair, outfit, and accessories. In the previous games, the names and appearance of the protagonists are locked.
In previous games, to safely detect hostile spirits, the protagonist needed to get into a hiding place (usually a bush), at which point they close their eyes. In Lost in the Dark, Yuzu only needs to close her eyes to detect spirits as there are no longer any hiding spots, which they can do at any time. This allows Yuzu to detect spirits while mobile (albeit at a significantly slower speed), but it leaves her vulnerable to larger or more aggressive spirits.
The little girl and Haru respectively loses an eye and an arm in their respective games. Yuzu, however, does not lose any of her body parts. In exchange, however, she loses both her pet and friend in the end, whereas the little girl is able to save her sister and Haru takes care of Yui's remaining dog, Chaco.
But Thou Must!: Yuzu is railroaded into several choices throughout the game. However, the trope gets played with as the game progresses. In Yuzu's memories involving the mysterious girl, the option to talk to her is scribbled out. When you revisit those memories near end of the game, the mysterious girl teaches Yuzu to imagine a small bell in her hand and shake it whenever she's afraid or upset. Doing so calms Yuzu down, allowing her to see past her fear and make better choices. In-game, this allows the player to unlock the scribbled-out options during Yuzu's memories, allowing her to properly recall her memories.
In the beginning of the game, Yuzu is forced to eat a worm by the classmates bullying her, and she is too meek to say no. At the end, the player experiences the scene again, but is now able to use the aforementioned bell trick that Kotori taught Yuzu. This gives the player the option to refuse the worm, allowing Yuzu to stand up for herself and not give in to her bullies.
Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Whereas the little girl from Night Alone remained unnamed (aside from some supplementary materials) and Haru from Midnight Shadows is already named, the player is able to give Yuzu a different name if they desire. Additionally, the player is able to customize Yuzu's appearance whereas the previous protagonists' appearances are locked. Yuzu also owns a cat whereas both the little girl and Haru are dog owners. Yuzu's memories reveals that she has interacted with spirits in the past and is thus not as frightened toward sympathetic spirits unlike the little girl and Haru who had to learn to grow accustomed to them. Finally, unlike the previous heroines, Yuzu doesn't lose any of her body parts by the end, though she ends up losing both her pet and her friend.
Creepy Doll: A whole mansion full of haunted dolls, mannequins and what have you.
Curse: Yuzu and the mysterious girl are both under a curse that is slowly turning the two of them into bird-like ghosts.
Dead All Along: Mugi. Despite making appearances throughout the game and helping Yuzu, Mugi has been dead since before the start of the game. All of his appearances are hallucinations brought about by Yuzu refusing to believe he's dead. Yuzu's inability to accept his death ends up being the catalyst for much of the game as her trying to chase after "Mugi" while she and her friends break into the school is what leads to her being ostracized and she can't fully regain her memories and the bell necessary to break the curse until she remembers and accepts Mugi's death.
Subverted with Yuzu. While it appears that she committed suicide at the beginning of the game and that she would be revealed to be a spirit the entire time (much like Yui from Midnight Shadows), she's alive throughout the game.
Downer Beginning: The player gets to see Yuzu get bullied at school before throwing herself off the school's roof.
Driven to Suicide: Subverted both times. At the beginning of the game and in a memory, Yuzu and the mysterious girl fall off the school rooftop. It's eventually revealed that the school rooftop is the entrance to the forest.
Due to the Dead: If a spirit is suffering, Yuzu will try to help the spirit find peace whether its building a grave for them, reuniting them with a loved one, or even take part in their creepy games. All the spirits show their appreciation by gifting new accessories or decorations for her room.
Fission Mailed: Even after you've collected all your memories, it isn't enough and the girl rejects Yuzu, saying she hasn't really recovered her true memories. Yuzu leaves and starts to succumb to the curse and has a memory of herself and Kotori when they were younger. The title then shows up as if the game's over, but then credits scroll by at an unreadably fast pace. When they're over, it cuts to Yuzu in her house, resolving to recover her true memories.
Forced Transformation: As Yuzu's curse progresses, her body begins to transform. Because the curse came from a bird spirit, Yuzu's hair becomes more disheveled and feather-like. Kotori, who is unable to be cured, gains a wing and talons in place of her arm and leg and grows tail feathers.
Eerie Anatomy Model: According to one of the notes about The Seven Mysteries found at the school, the Skeleton models found in the science classrooms will move when you close your eyes. True to the notes, the Skeleton models will start moving towards Yuzu if her eyes are closed, but will remain still once they're opened. Several Skeleton models will block Yuzu's path so the player needs to get good at timing the eye covering mechanic to open up paths.
Evil-Detecting Animal: The dogs in the shopping district level will bark at invisible parts of the area that will kill Yuzu if she goes into them, acting as a warning.
Mugi tends to growl and hiss whenever spirits are around. It's unknown whether or not Mugi's is a spirit and can detect these other spirits, or if it's just Yuzu hallucinating him doing so.
Eye Scream: A wandering Giant Hands of Doom spirit will cling to the screen if it catches Yuzu. If the player grabs the nearby large needle, Yuzu will stab the eye in the hand's palm, freeing her and granting her the "Something's Eyeball" item. Using the large needle before then, however, will lead Yuzu to an instant death.
Giant Space Flea from Nowhere: Unlike the first two games, few if any of the boss spirits have any kind of backstory. It's anyone's guess why Slender Mannote no,not an expy, it's literally Slender Man with a sickle is stalking the school, the local sea caves are inhabited by a reality-warping starfish monster, or the rice field is haunted by what appear to be the ghosts of aborted babies.
Guide Dang It!: In series tradition, you won't be getting all the items without a guide. It's not likely, for example, that anyone would see a ghost whale and think "I should feed him rocks until he explodes."
Hello, [Insert Name Here]: Yuzu is the heroine's Canon Name, but the game gives players the option to name her however they like.
Interface Screw: The starfish spirit will try to obstruct Yuzu by inverting the player's control scheme or by distorting the environment.
Kaizo Trap: Utilized at the end of the Mansion chapter. Yuzu wins at hide and seek and collects her lost memory. All's good, right? Well, turns out the haunted doll isn't done playing yet, meaning you have to make a beeline for the exit before you can fully recover your memory.
Kappa: Yuzu will find one by the river wearing a straw hat. This Kappa is a non-hostile spirit who simply jumps out of the water and looks for another part of the river to dive into. If Yuzu helps the Kappa up after it falls on its shell and feeds it a cucumber, the Kappa will leave its shell as a reward.
Magical Camera: The one Yuzu picks up in the abandoned boat can take out spirits when the flash goes off.
Mysterious Waif: The "Mysterious Girl" as she is called by the game. An older girl who seems to know Yuzu, helps her escape the forest, and tells her how to lift her curse. Almost every single memory Yuzu regains has the Mysterious Girl involved in some way. Her name is Kotori and she's an older sister figure to Yuzu who was looking for her mother. In the process of trying to find her mother, she ends up cursed and is unable to lift it. She is the one who teaches Yuzu how to protect herself from spirits.
Never Trust a Trailer: Like the previous Yomawari games, the trailers and promotional material hide a good chunk of the context behind the premise that is eventually revealed in the tutorial. The tutorial forces the player to experience Yuzu's savage bullying before she throws herself off the school roof and finds herself lost in the forest. None of this is ever hinted at in any capacity.
New Work, Recycled Graphics: In the postgame, they'll be a lot new spirits in the streets...and pretty much all of them are lifted right from the first two games.
Not Always Evil: While there are plenty of hostile spirits who will harm Yuzu, there are also many spirits who simply wish to be entertained or need help and won't harm Yuzu if she helps them. In fact, Yuzu will encounter several of the main story spirits who are simply looking out wistfully, waiting for someone to help them.
Once More, with Clarity!: Even after regaining all of her memories, Yuzu learns that some parts of her memories are still missing, which results in a Non Standard Game Over. This ending, however, gives the player a clue in the form of the Broken Flashlight. This forces the player to go over Yuzu's memories once more, using the clues they've learned to properly piece together her memories. The parts of her memories where she encounters a hostile spirit at first glance turn out to be Kotori trying to help her.
Repressed Memories: The final memory turns out to be this: It turns out that Mugi had died a long time ago and that Yuzu had repressed her memories of it due to trauma.
Self-Contained Demo: The Lost in the Dark demo, which takes the "Letter to Someone" memory and expands it to introduce the game's mechanics and some of the spirits.
Where It All Began: Just like the first two games, the game begins and ends with Yuzu going to school before jumping off the roof and ending in the snowy forest.