The Yawhg Review

This is the town that will be ravaged by the mysterious "Yawhg"

  • Developer: Emily Carroll and Damian Sommer
  • Publisher: Damian Sommer
  • Release Date: 30 May 2013
  • Time played: 1 hour

Keeping up my tradition of buying games created with game creation software packages I own, I decided to give The Yawhg a try as it happened to be cheap during the last Steam sale and it's apparently developed using Multimedia Fusion 2. Okay that's not the only reason I got this game, I also appreciated the artwork and the fact it seems to be a "Choose Your-Own Adventure" kind of game, which I also happen to like. So when it was about $5 I decided to grab it and give it a shot.

So what is it all about? Is it worth the money? And what exactly is a "Yawhg"?

Plot (4/5)
The game is set in some non-descript fantasy town where you're able to play the role of two to four townsfolk going about their daily lives six weeks prior to the arrival of something called the "Yawhg". They never really describe what the Yawhg actually is suffice to say it's not something that's good for the town's wellbeing. There's not much else to be said about the plot since in the tradition of "Choose Your Own Adventure" books, you get to decide how the story unfolds for the characters under your control. Whether they dabble in the magical arts, attend lavish balls at the palace or fight crime in the slums, it's up to you.

One nice touch about this game is how there is an epilogue to each of your characters at the end of the game depending on how they spent their six weeks before the coming of the Yawhg. Not enough games do this and for games with memorable characters or engaging plots, this should be mandatory. One good reason to have epilogues, and this is also one of the strengths of The Yawhg is that even when you seemingly fail you still get to experience the same amount of story. A sad story perhaps, but a story nonetheless. The Yawhg tries to put across the notion that you'll probably make some good and bad decisions in life but are they actually "good" and "bad"? You may not succeed in what you were originally aiming for but maybe your skills were always better suited for something else. A good game for people going through mid-life crises I guess ;).

Gameplay (3/5)
As mentioned, the game takes place in the six weeks before the Yawhg arrives. You control the weekly routine for 2-4 characters that you control whether its waiting tables at the tavern, hunting animals in the forest or meditating in a garden (similar to deciding your daily routine in Kudos 2). Each of these activities will give you boosts to your basic statistics such as finesse, charm, magic, wealth, etc. You'll often have random encounters during these activities where you'll have to pick one of two choices. Either choice usually doesn't turn out to be a "good" or "bad choice, it usually ends up reshuffling your stats, or giving you a boost in one area over another. Ultimately, come the end of the game, these stats will determine how successful your characters are when they start their lives anew after the Yawhg comes and goes.

So as you can see, there's not really that much to the gameplay besides picking certain choices and hoping you've made the right ones (or at least what you believe to be the right ones) - although the only really important choices you'll make are at the end of the game. It might take you a few playthroughs before you get a "successful" ending to the game since you don't know what the outcomes of your choices usually involve (or which stats are checked to determine if you're successful in a random encounter or not) but after you've done that (which won't take long considering the game's really short duration) there's not going to be much point playing the game again - unless you're a completionist and have to experience every possible path.

Because apparently that's the thing to do while visiting the slums

Sound (5/5)
You don't actually hear many sound effects in this game but I didn't feel the game suffered from a lack of them.

Music (5/5)
The Yawhg's soundtrack has a folk acoustic guitar feel to it which suits the game perfectly. From the melancholic title theme (Oceans) to the carefree tracks of the earlier weeks and the dark, foreboding tracks for the latter weeks, Ryan Roth and Halina Heron have done a great job in making the soundtrack fit the mood of the game.

Graphics (5/5)
There aren't really any animations in this game only comic book style artwork, but I really dig Emily Carroll's work (I'm a sucker for comic book style art in games).

Replay (1/5)
To be honest there's quite a bit of replay in this game since there are several locations you can visit on each playthrough all showing different artwork depending on which character visits. Obviously you can pick different choices for each encounter giving you different character stats boosts which in turn will determine how successful you are at the end (and how the characters end up living their lives).

While this is all good, unfortunately the game itself is very short. The game is finished in 6 turns and will only take you about 10 minutes to complete one playthrough. Admittedly, my first playthrough wasn't very successful but the second one had a better outcome (so only 20 minutes to "successfully" complete the game). I think this is a game that could've benefited greatly by the addition of Steam achievements rewarding people for the multiple paths the characters could take.

Polish (3/5)
While I didn't really encounter any bugs while playing the game proper, occasionally (for some inexplicable reason) the game didn't register my keyboard while I was on the title screen, all the while taunting me with a flashing "Press any key" message. I know it's a minor annoyance since all I needed to do was to close the process from Task Manager and start again but it's not the most elegant of solutions.

That also leads me to another minor criticism about the game which is that it's entirely keyboard (or controller) driven. You cannot use the mouse even though it would seem quite logical to do so.

Score – 7/10

The Yawhg is a terribly short game and will only take you 10 minutes to complete one playthrough. It is however a great "Choose Your Own Adventure" style game with appealing comic book style artwork and a magical soundtrack to boot. You may end up playing the game a few more times to experience "better" endings or to see how many different interactions you're able to stumble across but that might only amount to one or two hours gameplay maximum. A (very) short but sweet experience so I'd recommend you wait until it's on sale before giving it a shot.

The Yawhg is available from these retailers:

If you like this game, you might like...

[ LINK: Official The Yawhg website]