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Yi and the Thousand Moons (PC) artwork

Yi and the Thousand Moons (PC) review

"Musical E-clips"

Yi and the Thousand Moons lists itself as an Adventure game, which is a lie of sorts. And itís certainly not the first Yi will try to sell you on. For example, the titular thousand moons are a little bit of an exaggeration Ė thereís actually six. But not for long! The gods have commanded Yi to shoot them down in an attempt to harvest their moonlight and save their dying world. The sparse occupants of her village have exclusively labelled this a Very Bad Idea, crediting the halo of moons as protection against suffocating starlight. Maybe she has more faith in the words of omnipotent sky wizards, because she shoots them down regardless. Thus dooming everyone.

While that does indeed sound like a ripping introduction for a spot of adventuring, the most action youíll see is awkwardly lining Yi up with something now and then, and jabbing a mouse key to sometimes fire an arrow. I guess the most questionable aspect of the adventure game tag in this instance is the Ďgameí bit, with Yiís brush with doomsday lasting around half an hour, featuring very little in the way of interactivity. You could label it a low spec walking simulator of sorts, as you traverse your limited world in order to move from one plot point to the next. You climb the mountain to shoot down the moons. You return to the village so all three occupants can thank you for dooming them, and then you head off to see the gods to beg their help in fixing things. This entire trip consists of walking in one straight line from start to finish. Just to make sure youíre not tempted by a spot of wanderlust, your entire journey is buffered by ever-present invisible walls.

As a tale, itís purposefully condensed, never really dwelling on new revelations because its enforced brevity means itís already moving on to the next one. As a game, it actively struggles to be interactive enough to broadly qualify. So it settles of being kind of neither and finds a whole new hook; itís a musical. Instead of passť conversations, Yiís exclusive form of communication is through song. Which manages to work surprisingly well; the singing drops naturally into the background track, making everything feel more organic than it probably has a lot of right to. She sings about how sheís been ordered to shoot down the moons; the villagers sing back that theyíd have really preferred if she didnít. The gods sing over her requests, as their station probably befits. Bloody mortals turning up on their doorstep reminding them that their advice has brought about the end of the world. Who needs that?

The audience with the gods is the third act of seven, and easily ranks as Yiís strongest moment, with verses being exchanged or even cut off completely by competing singers. Which isnít to say the musical aspects disappoint elsewhere; there are noticeable moments of jarring phrases that shouldnít belong around the gameís chosen Shogunate period, but thereís laudable quality in both the recording and singing itself. And then, in less than half an hour, itís all done.

Thatís a very short run time however you want to look at it. On one hand, it means that everything is tied up and finished before the musical aspect perhaps starts to overstay its welcome but, on the other, it means Iíve spent more time typing up my thoughts than I have playing. Itís hard to consider it a fully-fledged game; itís hard to consider it a game at all. Yiís biggest selling point is its uniqueness, that itís a digital oddity or curiosity of sorts. Itís an interactive(ish) operatic fable that will hold your interest for its limited runtime, but offers little reason for a revisit. Give it a go if youíre inquisitive or tragically artistic; give it a miss if youíre expecting gameplay in your videogames.


EmP's avatar
Staff review by Gary Hartley (May 21, 2020)

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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