The Yawhg: A board game for horror nerds
The Yawhg, a self-described "Choose-your-own-adventure game,“ is a visual novel created by Emily Carroll and Damian Sommerone. As a big fan of Carroll's comics, I may be a bit biased in reviewing this game, but I'll try my best to be impartial.
This is a very short game -- about twenty minutes per play-through -- but there's enough content to explore to warrant a few play-throughs. Similar to Carroll’s horror comics, The Yawhg’s story has a creepy and fatalistic tone inspired by Medieval European folklore.
For the first half of a playthrough, all the characters just kind of live out their lives as you arbitrarily improve their stats. It’s fun and whimsical but there’s always an undertone of menace and warnings about the mysterious "Yawhg" that may spur the player into thinking more carefully about their choices.
One of my characters was assaulted by a vampire, for instance (after fighting crime, of course!).
He went to work the next day as a janitor in the hospital and went on a massacre, drinking everyone’s blood. The hospital was closed down after that. That was a fair sign that my actions were not arbitrary and had real consequences.
The other sign was when the game ended and my vampirism came back to haunt me during the ending. Depending on how you play and what roles you choose in the survival efforts of the final act, you may get any number of good or bad endings. These alone make it worth playing the game several times, as they range from funny to haunting to charming.
The Yawhg feels more like a board game than a computer game. While it's not necessary to play with others, it's actually more fun to do so. Staking a claim on one of the characters and saying "that's me" is all the more fun when your ending is considerably better or worse than that of your friends.
As a single player experience, all four of these characters -- to me -- had a stories, purposes, goals. And it was fun to build them up.
This game excels based on its charm. Everything other than the writing -- as well as the haunting music and atmosphere -- are pretty middling. That's fine for me, because I bought this game for the writing, but I can't comfortably recommend this game to anyone who isn't a fan of Gothic horror or witty multiplayer board games.