I’ve mentioned Nippon Ichi Software’s burdensome predicament in their home country of Japan in several previous posts, perhaps to the point that I sound like a broken record. But that’s necessary, because as someone who enjoys their games, I’m concerned about their future. Despite once-popular franchises like Disgaea losing popularity (something it still maintains in the western market), few of their new projects have caught on in their domestic market. Their biggest recent titles have been the lower-budget ones like htoL#NiQ: The Firefly Diary, Yomawari: Night Alone, and A Rose in the Twilight, though they still give the occasional experiment a shot, like upcoming Minecraft-style project Hakoniwa Company Works.
Since those titles have successful, they’re logically following those up with more. But this newest example is the first sequel to one of the aforementioned projects: Yomawari: Midnight Shadows, known in Japan as Shin Yomawari.
As a sequel, Midnight Shadows will keep many of the same concepts introduced in the first game. That means it will involve players controlling a female character who explores ominous environments armed with nothing but a flashlight, and can only dodge and escape from dangerous creatures along the way. The heartbeat system lets players know when one of them is nearby, as they aren’t always visible if they’re in a good hiding spot. Basically, it’s like a western hide-and-seek horror game, except in 2D hand-drawn form. It’s also like them in how the player can discover various items to help them or distract enemies, and while some can be acquired from general places of interest in the environment, other more secretive items can be discovered after being excavated with a shovel.
Unlike the first game, however, this installment will have two female characters: Yui and Haru. Both will have their own story perspectives, and neither are ostensibly related to the previous game’s protagonist. Both characters are separated from each other by a mysterious attacker while making their way home from a summer fireworks show, and have to find each other while escaping from nightmarish environments full of creatures ready to pounce on them. The adventures of both girls will overlap, meaning actions one takes can help the other, presumably if they come by the same location.
In addition to the familiar dark and haunted outdoor environments, this sequel will also have several indoor locations, including libraries and vacant houses. The added variety means this game will be around twice as long as its predecessor, which means it should take around ten hours to finish compared to the first game’s five-hour length. Keep in mind that game length estimates from publishers tend to be inflated, so don’t be surprised if it only takes around seven or eight hours to complete. But this won’t be a big deal as long as the game itself is a rewarding experience, and hopefully the developers aren’t resorting to padding the length to provide the illusion of a better value.
The game keeps the same aesthetic design of its predecessor, but you only have to compare its screenshots to the previous game to see how they’ve improved the attention to detail. It will also include the option for a “2D” side-view perspective alongside the default isometric view, to get an improved look at some environments. The details currently aren’t saying precisely what practical uses this will have, but it will be nice if the view is useful to get a better look at some monster hiding places or to expose hidden items. It looks great in screens, but the sneak preview on the official website shows how it will look nice in motion too, assuming that clip/minigame isn’t misleading.
Midnight Shadows will release in Japan on August 24th for PS4 in addition to Vita this time around. That’s despite the first game not being released on the platform, though it would be nice if their plan is to include both in one package for the system. Japan will also receive a limited edition that will include a book featuring art from both games and a prequel story involving the playable characters, all housed in a three-sided box with a transparent sleeve. NIS America might provide the same on their online store when it releases here.
Speaking of that: Midnight Shadows will release in western markets sometime in the fall, meaning its localization period will be much faster than the last game’s, which took a year to arrive. (The first game’s localization was likely completed well before that, but was delayed so its release could coincide with Halloween in October 2016.) In addition to PS4 and Vita, the western version will also receive a Steam release, where the first game apparently sold well enough.
Keep an eye out for the first good look at its gameplay in the first trailer, which NIS should post within the month, perhaps for all territories simultaneously.