Yaoling: Mythical Journey is a breath of fresh air in the genre | Hands-on preview

by on June 10, 2024

We are finally entering an era of monster collecting games where Pokémon isn’t the only option for fans of the genre. Now obviously it is still far and away the most popular and prominent game on the market when it comes to collecting colourful critters, but titles like Cassette Beasts, Monster Hunter Stories and Coromon have all provided viable alternatives for those burnt out on Nintendo’s offerings. The one thing these games all have in common though is their turn-based combat, and not everyone is a huge fan of that. Enter Yaoling: Mythical Journey, which swaps out traditional turn-based RPG battles with fancy modern auto battling.

Set in a gorgeous eastern inspired world, in Yaoling: Mythical Journey you play as a wannabe Yaoling keeper. In this dangerous land monsters called Yaoling roam free, and coupled with the demons that are corrupting them, safe places to live are becoming few and far between. It’s your job to show the world that humans and Yaoling can live together in peace, all while proving your battle prowess and stopping the darkness from spreading.

The only way you’ll succeed in your quest is by battling a whole load of Yaoling and creating a powerful team of the critters. Each fight you get into involves two teams of up to seven Yaoling being placed on the battlefield, with the strongest team surviving after the slashes and arrows have finished flying. Placing your team in the right positions is pretty much the only tool you have at your disposal in winning these fights once they start, and if you’re lucky keeping the ranged attackers at the back and the heavy hitters at the front will lead to victory.

Yaoling: Mythical Journey

Outside of unit placement, the main way you’ll succeed in Yaoling: Mythical Journey is by putting together a team of monsters that work well together. Each unit has a special attack that activates when its magic meter fills up, and if you’re clever these will help the team function as an unstoppable force of pain. Grabbing a healer and keeping it at the back is usually a good first step, but also having powerful melee attackers that can teleport in for a massive strike and AoE damage dealers will also work to take out the baddies ASAP.

It wouldn’t be much of a monster collecting game if you weren’t able to catch more monsters, and the way this works in Yaoling is very simple. You gather items called seals which can be dropped on wild Yaolings at any time for a chance to obtain them, with more likelihood of success if they’re hurt. These aren’t the only seals you’ll gather as you play through the game either, with all sorts of consumables that can damage or heal units in a pinch. They’re a great way to ensure you have a little more control in battle, and might just mean you win a tough fight as long as you don’t mind using them up.

Even in this preview build, perhaps the most impressive part of Yaoling: Mythical Journey is how massive the game feels. The world you’re able to explore feels vast, with all sorts of colourful environments to find new monsters in. There are also a shed load of different main and side quests to complete, from beating the teacher of each Yaoling school (which definitely isn’t the same as a Pokémon Gym Leader) to taking down powerful demons roaming the land to make it a safer place. Yaoling: Mythical Journey feels like a game I’ll be playing for hours and hours when it releases, and I can’t wait to get stuck into it.

Yaoling: Mythical Journey

The depth of the game is just as impressive as the size of it too, with all sorts of systems to invest your time into and plenty of reasons to do so. Crafting materials litter the fields and forests of the game, and they can be combined to create all the extra seals you need for battle. Your home village can be upgraded with materials too, and new helpful citizens can be gathered to help make it a hub of trade and prosperity. There are also talents which are different on each Yaoling, talent seeds which can teach them new ones, and even the evolution we all know and love from other games in the genre. Yaoling: Mythical Journey seems to have it all, and that often isn’t the case with up and coming monster collecting games.

Yaoling: Mythical Journey is a breath of fresh air in the monster collecting genre, thanks to its unique auto battling combat. Alongside this all the bells and whistles you could ever want from a dense RPG are in this gorgeous package too, like a huge open world full of things to do and an engaging crafting system. I’m seriously impressed with what I’ve played so far of Yaoling: Mythical Journey, and if the full game continues to build on that it’ll be something that fans of the genre can’t ignore.

Yaoling: Mythical Journey is coming to PC via Steam, and you can try the demo now.