“The Yawhg will be here in six weeks… and no one expects it. Not a one of us. We just keep on living our lives, week by week, unaware…”
This is how The Yawhg begins. It’s a small story game, drawing elements from visual novels and with some simple RPG mechanics built in, but don’t run away. Don’t run. The Yawhg comes, but by then it’ll be too late and all we can do is try to survive the aftermath…
One to four players control the cast of four unnamed characters as they spend six weeks in the city. Each one has a handful of stats which start out pretty poor. There’s the blue woman with the daft hat, the green guy with the awesome ginger facial hair, the red woman with the headband or the orange guy with the swishy coat and scarf. For six turns you send each of them to a location in the city where they have an encounter. Each character is completely interchangeable so they can all pursue any career despite different genders and appearances. The daft hat woman could go to the palace to do administration work, drink in the tavern or slay helpless little animals for food and profit. But then so could the hulking ginger guy. Each character’s appearance doesn’t really affect what they do and NPC names in encounters (such as your ex) are kept gender-neutral so you can play whoever you want and interpret the lives around them however you choose.
Each choice of location gives your character two choices of what to do (e.g.; fight crime or pick pockets if you’re in the slums). Almost every action will affect your stats. Hunting animals might earn you some points of physique or finesse as well as some wealth. A lot of the actions might give you a couple of options of things to do and a chance of success based on your skills. Challenging a drunk bard to a lute-off may fail if you’re not as charming as him. You suck it up and go about your life with no stat bumps.
The events aren’t all isolated either. Say you beat the bard’s musical challenge. Another character hunting animals in the wood might find a dead body dangling from a tree with his instrument broken at his feet. Fall at the teeth of giant wolf in the woods and soon hair will start growing on you. Get too close to the vampire and soon you may become the monster. Sometimes events (like a stray bomb or a plague) shut down a location for the rest of the game. Some of them might help build a better place for everyone to live in.
The game looks beautiful, with Emily Carroll’s fantastic artwork presenting it all like a storybook with customised pieces as certain events unfold, and each week closing with a statement about The Yawhg. It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the stories you’re making and the stats you’re trying to build up, but that bumper gives you a reminder of what may happen.
After six weeks of going about their lives, The Yawhg finally appears.
In case you don’t want the outcome to be spoiled, I’ll have the rest of the review beyond the page break. You can come back for the rest after you’ve bought it.
My quick summary for those of you who want to bail early because of spoilers is: Three and a half out of five. It’s $10 here and worth it if you like a story game along the lines of 30 Flights of Loving, but with more whimsy and replayability. It’s definitely worth experiencing, but go slow, take it all in, and be receptive to making up stories about the characters and their adventures, otherwise it could be finished in minutes.
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