Trek to Yomi is a side-scrolling cinematic black-and-white action samurai game whose developers have talked about Kurosawa as a major inspiration. The game was created by the Polish developer Flying Wild Hog and published by the American indie publisher Devolver Digital.
In Trek to Yomi, the player controls a young warrior whose village has been attacked by bandits. The game was released earlier this month and here is the story trailer to give you an idea of the style and gameplay:
The reception has been mixed, with Open Critic counting that only about half of the professional reviewers would actually recommend the game. In general, players and reviewers have praised Trek to Yomi for its aesthetics and atmosphere, but criticised it for its repetitive, simplistic gameplay and mundane story.
I actually played a little of the game myself to see what it’s like. The game certainly contains some Kurosawa references, including your sensei being called Sanjuro, but those links felt rather superficial at least early in the game. Frankly, they could probably have just as well called it an homage to Kenji Mizoguchi or Sadao Yamanaka, and I wouldn’t have noticed a conceptual difference. The environments are certainly quite lovely, in particular the town itself, but by the time the story started to talk about demons and whatnot, I began to lose interest. Still, as it’s supposedly just a 4-5 hour experience, I might return to it later, not as a “Kurosawa game”, but as a generic samurai romp. The gameplay at least felt quite simple and straightforward, which suits me fine.
Trek to Yomi is out now on Windows, PlayStation 4 and 5, and the last two Xbox generations. The game is also part of Microsoft’s Game Pass offering.