By Henry Badilla / August 3rd, 2017
|Title||Yukie: A Japanese Winter Fairy Tale|
|Release Date||July 14, 2017|
Imagine that from the very moment you’re born, your destiny has been decided for you. But it’s not one for greatness or glory. It’s a path of revenge that has already killed all your ancestors, and now you have to walk the same path. That is the story of Yukiji in Yukie: A Japanese Winter Fairy Tale.
Yukie: A Japanese Winter Fairy Tale is a theatrical story game developed by ImCyan. It tells the story a Yukiji, a Samurai with a mission to defeat Yukie, a creature similar to the Winter Woman or Yuki-onna of Japanese Folklore, who is responsible for the eternal winter that has been cursing the land.
What the developer is trying to convey with a theatrical story is that the main focus of the game is on the story. As Yukiji, we will traverse through different maps and areas while the story is being narrated to us, either by an omniscient narrator or Yukiji himself. This is quite similar to games like Dear Esther where we are basically walking while listening to the story.
However, our main character is still a samurai, so we do have to fight our way out when needed. Since the game was built using RPG Maker, the combat is turn based, but not in the traditional way used by many RPGs. To attack, we have to wait until the enemies make a sound, and then press the “accept” button to inflict damage. We have to be fast, otherwise it will fail. And to defend when the enemy attacks, our cursor will go to the left or to the right, so we have to press the corresponding button with the keyboard directional keys. The game uses keyboard only, with no option of mapping the buttons.
While it is fine to have some interaction in the game besides walking, the combat is not great. The window to attack or block is too small, so blocking can be difficult. In addition, during combat we have no indicator of how much life we have left or how much damage we are receiving besides Yukiji’s heavy breathing when he is about to die, so death feels cheap and unexpected most of the time.
The game’s selling point is still the story, and it is quite nice. It does give the sense that we are part of an old Japanese fairy tale, and the music complements it quite nicely. The narrative can be a bit tedious since we are not interacting with the story most of the time, and just being told what happened. However, it was overall original, and the characters all accomplished their purpose in the story.
In regards to the music, it is mostly done using piano and classical guitar along with simple drums. The melodies are simple and nostalgic, which gives the game a melancholy vibe. It complements the game setting and aesthetics very well .
As for the visuals, I’m still debating if I like them or not. For a game that was made using the RPG Maker engine, it is nice to see that it doesn’t use pixel art or the default sprites. Instead, they went with manga drawings for all the characters, which are really well made. The problem is the quality of the graphics. Most characters look blurry, and most of the backgrounds are snowy mountains with no details, and while it does give the feeling of desolation, it also feels lazy and uninspiring.
There is an additional problem with the graphics that I encountered which could be a problem with my setup. I play with my PC connected to a 40” TV. The game launches by default in full screen, but for some reason the game didn’t stretch to fit my screen, and instead kept the default resolution with a huge black margin around it. I found a comment on Steam about the same issue with no workaround or fix for it. Something to keep in mind if you play on your TV or have a big monitor.
In conclusion, Yukie: A Japanese Winter Fairy Tale brings some new ideas on how a game focused on story can be done, and while combat does get repetitive and simple fast, it’s a better alternative to simply hearing the story and seeing the battles through images or cinematics. The game is available on Steam for $2.99, and while there is no replay value in it, a single playthrough can take around 4 to 5 hours. If you’re a fan of Japanese storytelling or its folklore and are looking to play something different, Yukie: A Japanese Winter Fairy Tale may be your game.
Review copy provided by the publisher.
ImCyanJapanese FolkloreRPGSteamTheatrical Story GameYukieYukie: A Japanese Winter Fairy Tale