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The Yawhg (PC) artwork

The Yawhg (PC) review

"Briefly brilliant. Perpetually redundant."

The Yawhg is, in a lot of way, kind of irrelevantly wonderful. Itís an open ended-choose-your-own-adventure where you take responsibility for up to four peopleís lives. The catch here is that thereís only six weeks before an unspecified catastrophe befalls them and, whereas you are very aware itís just around the corner, they arenít. Therefore, you have to spend your first six weeks together trying to prepare them for disaster whilst they just get on with their lives. You might feel it worthwhile to send them into the slums to fight crime, have them swat up on their mystic skills in the Magic Tower, or just get wrecked at the tavern while they have the chance. You can have them graft in the hospital, chill in the arena or flounce around at fancy parties at the palace.

In running multiple protagonists (a minimum of two is required) youíll see characterís circumstances often bleeding into each other. Do some midwifing at the hospital, and you might be unfortunate enough to help birth a hideous demon child who someone hanging out at the arena might later encounter swooping down from the skies and melting a combatant or two. Released a few magical leaches due to a bout of carelessness? They could turn up later in the palaceís fountains.

Between these overlapping branches, youíre given relative freedom to whittle away your characterís remaining time. You could bolster their stats preparing for the cataclysm, or just reveal in their innocent ignorance. I sent my first character into the slums to battle criminals, wanting her to be a force of justice and strength in the new world. But she was bitten by a vampire and saw all her accumulated muscle waste away. Her role in the after-event was sadly made obsolete as she obsessed over hunting down and slaying her undead master. Another character toiled in the woods, but was casually mauled by a passing wolf, and permanently destroyed the location he was visiting at the next full moon. Someone who I forced to nerd up on magic studies to provide magical aid decided instead to teleport himself to an alternative dimension where he was saddened to find the only difference was that the inhabitantís eyes were slightly smaller than his.

There are further examples to offer, but I best err on the side of frugal because, sadly, these instances quickly start to repeat. Each playthrough will only last about ten minutes or so and youíll only be a handful of replays in before you start noticing events repeat themselves. Youíll find this less so with the many available conclusions, but the options during the six weeks leading up to the disaster where you define your character quickly exhaust themselves. Playing on your own is also somewhat anticlimactic, and the tales are clearly meant to unfold within a group of people each controlling a character of their own. Play solo, and the need to walk through multiple people at once robs you of the chance to really bond with your protagonistís toils, but multiplayer options are local only. Thereís something to be said about playing the game socially with like-minded folk, but itís a hard game to successfully suggest to normal multiplayer groups.

Because of this, the kind of tainted fairy-tale spectacle The Yawhg promotes sadly fades all too soon, despite the whimsically strong writing and the playful art that often hints at a slightly darker edge. For all its subtle melancholy and inventive storytelling, thereís only a small window of time when all these things mesh together to create something special. After that, itís more about rediscovery and rehashing in the futile hopes that relevance can be discovered by combining the old and worn.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (November 08, 2014)

Gary Hartley arbitrarily arrives, leaves a review for a game no one has heard of, then retreats to his 17th century castle in rural England to feed whatever lives in the moat and complain about you.

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- posted November 08, 2014:

I played this earlier in the year (had two playthroughs), and thought it was a fun diversion but little more.

Agreed with pretty much everything said here - nice job. I really dig the tone that the game is going for with its presentation and writing - there is a lot of potential in here, but there needs to be more substance to provide a more fulfilling experience.
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EmP posted November 09, 2014:

I had it in my library for a while now because it always seemed like an interesting concept. And, I guess, it kind of is, but it wants to be a party game and I'm just not convinced it's ever going to be applicable as such.

Stopping at two gave you almost half an hour or so of gameplay and is probably closer to the apex of non-repetition that is good for it.

Thanks for reading.

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