As I read through the ‘How to Play’ section of the readme file for The Yawhg, a story-driven multiplayer adventure game by Canadian developers Damian Sommer and Emily Carroll, I was a bit perplexed. “Light six black candles in a circle around the players. If you do not have the necessary equipment (six black candles, a lighter, flint & steel, etc.), go out to the store to buy some. If you waited for it to be dark out, and now all the stores are closed, wait outside the store until it is open.” This was a pretty mysterious message, but it fits well. The Yawhg is a pretty mysterious game.
The game can be played with up to four players, with four different characters to choose from. The game takes place over the course of six weeks. Each week, your character is allowed to visit one of the eight buildings in town and choose from two activities at each. These activities not only boost your stats, but change on each playthrough. Most of the time, something will happen during an activity. Your character might be bartending one week when a fight breaks out, and you’ll have to choose whether to stop it or join in. These events change the stats of your player, which determines which of the game’s 50+ unique endings you receive.
You must choose carefully, however. A disaster known only as ‘The Yawhg’ is approaching the town and every citizen’s time is limited. The possibilities in story allow for a multitude of playthroughs. I’ve played through the game about eight or nine times now (With an average of about 10 minutes per run on the long end), and while I’ve seen a few repeated events, each time I got a significantly different ending.
Playing with multiple people isn’t necessary to enjoy the game. In fact, I found it to be a little tedious until everyone can figure out how the game works. Every one of your choices carries a lot of weight, since there are so few over each week. I found myself choosing a lot of things I normally wouldn’t just to see the fantastic art by Emily Carroll. The style of this game has such elegance. I wanted to see more and more of it. Even with the wealth of drawings in the game, it could’ve benefited from more. The only thing telling you what happens in between weeks is a few words, which put me off a bit.
The game is surrounded with mystery—what will happen when the yawhg hits? What will the characters do, if they survive? The game always projects an aura of being all-knowing; leaving the player feeling a bit scared during the whole process of a quick playthrough. The foreboding text and ominous music give players a very nervous feeling. You will never be pointed in a direction, nor will you ever be prepared for what the story could throw at you next.
The Yawhg will be available for Windows. It is slated for release on May 30th. It is currently $5 until release if you pre-order from the game’s website. Keep up to date with info from the game by following the developers, @emilyterrible and @damiansommer.