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Nelson Schneider's Video Game Reviews (322)

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The Yawhg 3.5/5
Dungeon Defenders II 4/5
Spelunky 0.5/5
Hard Reset Redux 2.5/5
Girls and Dungeons 4/5
Time Tenshi 2 3.5/5
Time Tenshi 2.5/5
We Are the Dwarves 1/5
Shadow Warrior 3.5/5
Torment: Tides of Numen... 4.5/5
Hammerwatch 1.5/5
Metro Redux 4/5
Dragon Quest Monsters: ... 3/5
Diluvion 3/5
Seiken Densetsu 3 ( Sec... 2.5/5
Titanfall 2 2.5/5
Treasure Hunter G 3.5/5
The Legend of Zelda: Br... 4/5
Shadow Warrior 2 4.5/5
Treasure of the Rudras ... 2/5
Oceanhorn: Monster of U... 2.5/5
The Bard's Tale ( 2004 ) 3/5
Middle-earth: Shadow of... 4/5
Spore 3/5
Mario + Rabbids: Kingdo... 4.5/5

Next 25
 

The Yawhg   PC (Steam) 

Party Trick    3.5/5 stars

“The Yawhg” is a 2013 game that only came to my attention through the magical algorithms of the Steam Store, which placed it in my Discovery Queue. It turns out that “The Yawhg” is something of an Indie darling, developed by a team of two people during one of those quick-coding showcase events, then later revealed in a more polished form at the 2014 Independent Games Festival, where it was nominated for multiple awards. What caught my attention about “The Yawhg,” though, was the fact that, much like Double-Fine’s “The Cave,” it is an Adventure game with a strong multi-player component. Desperately lacking in local-coop games for our weekly gatherings, I bought the discounted “The Yawhg” for a few bucks during the Summer Sale 2018, figuring we’d get an evening of entertainment out of it… and we did.

Presentation
“The Yawhg” is a very Indie game from a presentation perspective. Featuring flat, stylized 2D visuals, the game’s art assets are all clearly hand-drawn. Each of the four playable characters is dominated by a specific color, which leads to further artistic stylizing. It is a very basic game, however, with nothing in the way of animation. Basically, it’s on par with a typical Visual Novel in its visual ambition.

The soundtrack is quite gorgeous, however, featuring heavy use of acoustic folk music. It’s easy to see how “The Yawhg” was nominated for an award for its audio, which is to say, the game wasn’t particularly excellent, just the musical talent. There’s no voice acting in “The Yawhg,” however, with the entirety of its narrative delivered solely via text.

Technically, “The Yawhg” is relatively solid, though profoundly lacking in options. There’s literally no option menu, and the game just guesses at a resolution. As a result, we had a bit of an issue with the game and the overscan on Nick’s Samsung TV cutting off part of the bottom-right edge. Likewise, “The Yawhg” is one of those games that doesn’t like Alt-Tabbing out of it to do something else, as it simply locks-up and must be killed and restarted. It’s interesting to note, though, that such a simple game does include native Xinput support for four controllers at once.

Story
What’s the titular Yawhg? That’s spoiler territory. Suffice it to say, the Yawhg is a terrible thing that is coming to destroy our Medieval Fantasy city in 6 weeks’ time. It is up to our four protagonists – who are apparently named for their dominant colors, but this is never explicitly stated in-game – to live their last 6 weeks as they see fit, building their various attributes and experiencing random happenings in the city and its surrounding environs. Once the Yawhg comes, the player(s)’ decisions during the weeks leading up to its coming will determine how they fare during one final series of decisions, ultimately resulting in one of many different endings.

The endings in “The Yawhg” all fall into one of three categories: Good, Bad, or Indifferent. Each of the characters used will also experience their own unique ending based on both the ending’s basic category as well as their specific actions/stats from that run through the game.

“The Yawhg” is almost painfully short. The MJ Crew managed to run through it three times in an hour, getting the Bad ending twice, before finally snagging the Good ending as we figured out some of the mechanics. With allegedly 50 or so unique things to experience in the story and the endings, I felt like we’d seen almost all of it in that hour we spent. Thus, “The Yawhg” comes off as a type of very nerdy party game. Instead of dragging out the boxed set of “Settlers of Catan” or “Trivial Pursuit: Harry Potter Edition,” dedicated members of the geek community could easily spend an enjoyable evening sipping coctails/microbrews, combing their elaborate facial hair, adjusting the cogs on their Steampunk wardrobe, and playing “The Yawhg.”

The quality of the narrative itself strikes me as rather dubious. While the game was nominated for an award for its narrative, it feels a bit like a cop-out. “The Yawhg” is the Adventure game equivalent to a Roguelike. It’s super-short, it’s super-random, and the events all fit together like a set of Mad Libs. The mystery of the Yawhg itself isn’t nearly as mysterious or interesting as it’s made out to be, and ultimately the whole thing feels a bit disposable.

Gameplay
Take two parts Adventure game, one part RPG, and add a dash of Roguelike randomness, and you’ve got the recipe for “The Yawhg.” One-to-four players can take control of a character and guide that character’s actions when their turn comes around. Each game lasts exactly 7 turns, with the first 6 representing a week of in-game time, and the final one representing the mysterious and spoilerific finale.

Gameplay in “The Yawhg” basically boils down to building stats: Physique, Finesse, Mind, Charm, Magic, and Wealth. Each character can spend a week at one of a large number of different locations around the city. Each location features two different activities the character can engage in, and as a result specific character stats will rise or fall. Each location and its two activities are static through all playthroughs, but each location and activity also triggers a random follow-up event that can be far more unpredictable, often resulting in disastrous, unavoidable outcomes.

In our time with “The Yawhg,” we found that the best strategy was to focus on 2-3 stats for each character, but to make them different sets of stats for each character, resulting in a well-rounded team for the end-game. With its roughly 20-minute runtime, “The Yawhg” doesn’t feature anything in the way of save files, so save-scumming is out of the question, but being so short and with random narrative events in all of its possible endings, there’s little reason to sweat the small stuff, and just stick with a playthrough, even though it’s obviously doomed from week 1. It is literally impossible to fail completely at “The Yawhg,” since some form of ending will occur regardless of the player(s)’ decisions and the game’s random events.

Overall
“The Yawhg” is a super-short, super-random, narrative-based Adventure game that is definitely best when played in a group setting. As such, it feels a bit like a party trick, in that it’s possible to experience the game thoroughly in the amount of time one might otherwise spend on mingling at a casual dinner party. However, it is ultimately something of a disposable experience, and once the mystery of the titular Yawhg is known, it loses much of its mystique, making the $10 non-sale asking price feel a bit steep.

Presentation: 3.5/5
Story: 3/5
Gameplay: 3.5/5
Overall (not an average): 3.5/5

 

 


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