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Review: YumeCore (PC)By Gabriel PVJ Jones At 23.05.2019 15:16

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Here's a moment of reality: hospitals suck. While they are no doubt essential to the health and overall happiness of society, they're not places you'd want to spend a lot of time in. This is especially true for most Americans, since a single night's stay is usually enough to bankrupt them. As bad as hospitals are, imagine what they must be like for kids, especially those who are stuck there for an inordinate amount of time. Such is the case of poor Sokobo, who has likely spent several days staring at the same four walls. Underneath YumeCore's quirky concept and lo-fi surrealistic visuals, is a tale that's actually poignant. Once somebody gets through the 30 or so minutes of punches, kicks, and vicious slams; they'll begin to understand it.

Indeed, this is a short video game, and that's wonderful. Imagine somebody is playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. They've spent the past hour stuck bashing their head against the same boss. Every attempt feels more fruitless than the last, and hope is almost entirely lost. This is the perfect opportunity to take a break and play through something that's much less stressful. YumeCore isn't filled with mechanics and subsystems, nor does it complicate the player's life with loads of difficult enemies.

The gist of it is that during the day, Sokobo can wander around the hospital and chat with other patients. At night, she enters the dream world and beats them up, until their pain goes away. Oh, just in case anyone is wondering, the violence is more cutesy than brutal. There's a nice thick bass sound when a baddie gets slammed, but otherwise it looks pretty harmless. The controls are the epitome of simplicity. There's an attack button, a jump button, and a special move button. The special moves have a limited stock, so save them for emergencies. Also, Sokobo can access an inventory, which tends to contain HP restoring candies and/or STR-boosting stimulants. Again, save these for when they're absolutely necessary.

As far as beat em'ups go, this one is competent enough. Dispatching enemies is a relatively painless process. There aren't any cheap encounters, or overly difficult bosses. However, don't expect much in the way of variety. A lot of the same patients have a habit of returning again and again. This is probably because several punches to the face weren't a sufficient enough remedy. Still, there are a few surprises to keep an eye out for. While they aren't particularly tough, the bosses have some neat tricks.

Just to reiterate, Sokobo's journey won't last very long. After the initial play-through, the bulk of the player's time will be spent on uncovering all of the achievements. Some require defeating enemies in a certain manner, while others are completely hidden. There is some incentive in replaying, if just to hunt down all of the secrets. An omake mode is also available, with the goal being to complete stages as quickly as possible.

All told, the real strength of this title is how everything comes together. No matter what is occurring, the soundtrack is a perfect fit. It's just plain amazing. The bits and pieces of characterization give life to the small cast. Also, the simplicity of the action works in its favour. Landing attacks is effortless. Not a single element feels out of place or poorly-constructed. Nobody is going to be wowed by what's on display, but their time won't be wasted either. Why, it might even warm that hunk of ice and stone they call a heart. No guarantees though.

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Final Score
[i]YumeCore[/i] is one of those rarities where if a single aspect wasn't quite right, then it would fall apart entirely. There isn't a deep and complicated battle system to figure out, nor are there a wealth of level-ups and rare drops to hide behind. Even though progress can be saved, it's highly unlikely that anyone will get more than an hour or two worth of play-time. Still, even if it doesn't stick around for long, at least it's sure to leave behind a happy memory. This endearing adventure serves as a respite from the painful video games that most usually put themselves through. Give it a shot.



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