Every blogger needs a break from books, even me. Thankfully, games like The Yawhg exist to provide that perfect chance to step away from the page without stepping away from the wonderful possibilities of fiction.
Made by Damian Sommer and Emily Carroll, The Yawhg is a 1-4 player game that plunges you into a beautifully drawn fantasy world that is six weeks away from coming face to face with the horrors of the Yawhg…whatever that is. Each time you play, you select a character to play as, and make one decision about how to spend your time per week. After making six decisions, though, the Yawhg arrives, like it always would, and it’s time to face the consequences of your choices.
At its core, The Yawhg is a choose your own adventure game with a stunning visual component, backed by music that adds to the gentle sense of impending doom on the horizon. A degree of randomization in the choices offers makes sure no one play-through is the same as the next, and the overall style is both whimsical and grounded. It never reaches too far, never asks you to believe anything too strange, and yet there are moments of odd magic and strange creatures that find themselves perfectly normal for the setting at hand. The atmospheric balance, peppered with that hint of uncertain mystery regarding the Yawhg’s nature, truly is one of the game’s greatest strengths.
It also helps that The Yawhg’s mechanics are easy to balance, and the time needed to play through a single run is incredibly short, five minutes at most. You don’t get caught up in the controls, you don’t have to get tangled in the history of a new world, or in the characters. You simply make one choice a week until the Yawhg arrives, and then the course of your life in no longer in your hands. Then, you play again, making different choices, maybe choosing different characters, and you see the ways the world changes after the Yawhg strikes.
For me, the only thing about The Yawhg that didn’t satisfy was this incredibly short time frame. Even when I want to step away from books and do something different with my time, I still like my fiction to have depth to it. I want to be invested, want to spend at least a few hours immersed in the world. That’s just not an option here, what with the game designed to be short and (bitter)sweet. However, it’s hardly a flaw that my tastes don’t align perfectly with the game’s structure, and while that may frustrate me, I suspect there’s many people out there who appreciate the twenty minute bursts the Yawhg offers as a brain break.
If it sounds like The Yawhg might be a game for you, be sure to check out the game’s charming site, where you can watch a demo video, view some of the lovely artwork, and even purchase the game for $9.99 USD (though if it goes on sale, it can drop quite low; I believe I bought it for around $2 during a Steam sale). The Yawhg makes six week go by in a blink, but you’ll come back to it again and again, just to make something new happen every time.