Yuoni Review | It’s the 1990s in Japan and Ai, a 10-year-old grade-schooler, doesn’t quite realise her friends have left her entirely isolated until it’s too late and she is forced into playing a deadly children’s game of hide and seek, all while being haunted by dangerous entities. Welcome to the horrific world and game known as Yuoni. During your gameplay, you tend to have one of three options: run, hide, or die and by making the correct choice, you might just make it through in one piece if you’re lucky. Using items you pick up along the way, find a path that works for you but keep in mind these could also spell imminent doom if you’re not careful. Developed by Tricore and published by Chorus Worldwide Games, black shadows will hunt you down in a tense Japanese amber setting where freedom must be earned or you risk being trapped forever. Find the doll and burn it. It could be your only hope to escape Tsun and his bizarre game.
|Publisher||Chorus Worldwide Games|
ℹ️ Reviewed on Xbox Series S | Review code provided by PR/publisher.
This review is the personal opinion of the writer. Got unanswered questions about this game? Get in touch on Twitter!
What we Liked!
- Fear factor | The atmosphere I sensed throughout Yuoni was brilliantly designed considering it’s a low-budget title. Due to there being very little noise in combination with threatening entities lurking around my surroundings, I was never too sure if I was crouch-walking to danger or safety. This forced me to play Yuoni in a highly cautious way as I wanted to sneak by with as little hostile engagement as possible. With a healthy dosage of jump scares included, this also had me happily jumping in fear to add tension to an already secluded and frightening setting.
- Generous checkpoints | Thankfully, despite the fact there is no manual saving in Yuoni, the autosave features regularly made an appearance that was very much welcomed as I made my way through the chapters. If it would have saved less often, this could have been a major issue but each save proved its worth and only ever put me back into a safe location meaning I didn’t have to worry about getting the equivalent of being spawn killed every time I loaded my checkpoint.
- Interesting plot, poor execution | I found the story told in Yuoni to be rather interesting to understand and follow but as it was told mostly via text and not in a natural way through the course of gameplay, it was majorly let down. It details the plot of a boy whose ghost the students are trying to summon. As Ai is successful, the boy appears to her and invites your character to play Yuoni. As time goes onward, the story unravels further, giving you more in-depth detail about both characters and where you are. Making the story flow within the game I think would have been much better but, at the end of the day, I’m happy there is at least a story (and a great one at that) present in Yuoni.
- Crimson visuals | The Japanese setting in Yuoni is beautiful and captures the scenery in a unique format with the use of sunset shades beaming throughout. The game is a little on the dark side though and although horror games tend to be anticipated to be dark, there is a limit and Yuoni had me constantly changing my visual contrast and brightness settings. Objects within the environment are sadly drowned out due to the base colours used which is a shame. The visuals looked alright but should have been balanced out more, giving everything the love it deserved.
- Survival mechanics | As I mentioned in the introduction, you have three choices while playing Yuoni: run, hide, or die. Due to there being no combat or way to defend yourself, you have to always be on your guard. I mean, I wouldn’t expect a 10-year-old to be wielding deadly weapons anyway so that was fine. The only mechanic you have at your disposal is being able to hold your breath and this can be done for pretty significant periods of time if you press the RB/LB repetitively to make the most of it. This can be quickly regained by draining stamina but at the cost of being loud and possibly alerting nearby enemies. There isn’t much else to mention and that leaves the game feeling a little empty for my liking.
- Creepy audio | Sound effects are what contribute to the overall horror ambience in Yuoni as I could only hear a faintly ominous tone in the background, meaning there is no in-game music to enjoy. Hearing your footsteps makes you all too aware you’re making noise and when enemies spot you, the audio cue is noticeable immediately. With that, they all have their own unique sound when they’re walking around which creeped me out. Even when I had to let go of holding my breath, I was worried about how much noise I was actually making. I would have actually liked more harrowing sound effects to make Yuoni even scarier; I think the developers held off too much on this important element.
What we Disliked
- Repetitive gameplay | Yuoni consists of five chapters that all require you to carry out the same objective, back to back. Find the doll, find your way back to the bucket, and burn it to finish the chapter. The only main difference is each time the segments get longer, making it a little more difficult and this just wasn’t enough to keep me interested for very long. The lack of variety created a massive issue in the fun factor for me as the gameplay was never fresh or added something new. Introducing new enemies, having more diverse locations, adding mechanics – just anything to liven up the experience more would have been appreciated.
- Boring achievement list | One thing Yuoni succeeds in is having one of the most unimaginative achievement lists I’ve seen. One for completing each chapter, one for completing each chapter again, and a final for seeing all endings. Nothing related to the stealth, enemies, or hard difficulty option in the game seems strange to me. I get ‘story-related’ and ‘unmissable’ achievements and have no issue with these but I would like to have achievements I have to work towards like not being spotted and completing the game on hard for example. No thought has gone into this and it shows.
- Unchallenging enemies | Although the fear factor is present and it did make me wary, the enemies weren’t particularly scary or worrying to be around. Yuoni warns you of their sense which mostly revolves around their ability to hear your movements and breathing. Getting past them successfully was fairly straightforward and just required a little patience. However, even when they did spot me occasionally, they just injured me and gave me some time to get away and hide which wasn’t exactly thrilling. I wanted the thrill of the chase! Now, if they would have had a greater presence and caused more disruption I think this could have impacted how I went about each level but, as the game stands, it’s just a case of sneaking and not much else.
How long to beat the story | Approximately 4-6 Hours
How long to achieve 1000G | Approximately 6-8 Hours
You’ll love this game if you like these | Outlast, Five Nights at Freddy’s, White Day: A Labyrinth Named School
Yuoni is a low-budget horror game that tells a great story set in a gloomy Japanese hospital/school but lacks content and enjoyment. There are certainly numerous events that gave me shivers and made me hyper-aware which is the main element any horror game should have; it just didn’t provide the quality of gameplay to the same standard. Admittedly, I’ve never even thought of hide and seek as scary yet that is exactly what Yuoni is all about. There are unfortunately more weaknesses than strengths even if the idea behind Yuoni was cool. However, this was not enough for me to recommend the game.
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Hello, I’m Victoria. I’m from the UK and have been playing video games for as long as I can remember; back on DreamCast. I’ve pretty much fallen for Xbox since I was around eight years old and remember BioShock being my first game on the Xbox360. Although I find it thoroughly enjoyable to not only experience gameplay, I also find comfort in getting lost and engrossed in the online worlds that sometimes differ greatly from what we know. Another side of my Xbox passion would be achievement hunting and gamerscore. I thrive when I hear the little sound of one popping up on the screen and I’m always finding ways to work on my backlog when possible. Horror is my favourite genre so if you have any recommendations, don’t be afraid to send them my way!