Okay, so I know that I said before that the next review would be Night in the Woods but I feel as though this game needs to be discussed…. Boy, only the second article and I’ve already lied. In-Indie has a bright future. So I bought four, debatably five, other indie games last week. And one of those indie games was the interesting YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, pronounced Y2K, for some reason. I saw the trailer and the strange visuals already had me hooked. And just when I had purchased it, I read the comments, I saw the dislike bar, and I saw how there was not a soul on this planet who liked YIIK. I’m sure it has it’s fans, but everyone I talked to either says, “What’s a YIIK” or “YIIK is the worst”. And so, here I go… I am actually here to defend YIIK. Because I kinda liked it. And just like that, this was the last In-Indie article I ever wrote ever.
YIIK takes place in the ancient year of 1999, the turn of the millenia and the last year of the 90s before 2000. Alex, a college graduate with a liberal arts major, returns to his hometown of Frankton to sit at home and do nothing with his life, and pretty much look like a hipster, be a dick to everyone, and eat food from the trash. But things get complicated. He meets a girl named Sammy who is immediately taken by otherworldly beings known as Soul Survivors and what follows is a strange adventure dealing with alternate realities, time travelling androids, and video game and R.E.M. references. Along the way, Alex meets other party members. Michael, his old friend and the funny man of the group. Vella, punk girl and top tier waifu. Rory, an awkward kid who doesn’t do much fighting. Claudio, who is just Woolie from Woolie Versus and his more interesting sister, Chondra. And so, a bizarre game begins.
So from the very start of this game, all I heard was two things, and I’ll start with the first one. The writing is terrible. And is the writing terrible- Yeah…. Well, a little. I will say, despite liking this game, the writing is not this games strong suit. While the world and the design and… parts of the story grabbed my interest, it is more the dialogue that I have problems with. The dialogue is either trying real hard to be funny at times, and sadly not always landing, and other times, Alex is repeating things we’re already shown a few seconds ago. I may be a wannabe-writer, but even I can say that I’ve seen worse writing. David Cage wrote the story to Heavy Rain and everyone fucking loves that. Of course this doesn’t excuse tons of errors in the writing. I will let the whole annoyance I hear about how Chrono Trigger was a childhood game despite being four years old, but even I can’t let slide how they mistake a cat’s gender minutes after stating it’s a girl. So we can agree that the writing isn’t perfect, at least in the first chapter. But we’ll get to that later. The other main complaint I hear is that Alex is the most hateable character ever, and that no one can stand him. I hear comments saying, “He’s just an asshole. I don’t like that”. And I will always argue that you don’t need the protagonist to be a good person to have an interesting story. Yes, it’s easier to root for a good hearted soul, but there are plenty of examples of stories with horrible people as protagonists. Heck, I’ll argue on YIIK’s level and talk about an indie game. Hotline Miami, a great indie game that I may talk about in the future (Wink, wink), but Jacket is a horrible person. A brutal serial killer who may even take joy in the slaughters he commits, all for the thrill. A protagonist doesn’t have to be good or even likable to have a good story. They need to be understandable and interesting. And I will say, by the halfway point, I was wondering, “Jeez, you fucking manbaby, why are you so stuck up” and by the end, I thought, “.... Oh”. But, again, we’ll get to that later. Let’s talk about the combat.
The combat in this game is… mixed for me. I like the idea they were going for, give everyone a sort of minigame to make them stand out. Most, if not all, are a sort of time based mini game where you hit the button at the right time to get the hit. The better you are, the more your combo racks up and the more damage you’ll do. It’s fun and unique, and I always enjoy seeing the combo go up when I manage to get a perfect amount on each turn, but the problem comes from some of the battles. They can drag on for quite a while. Some enemies have way too much health and you may be thinking for it to end. But in the version I played, the PS4 version cause that was the lowest rated and I hate myself, I found a sort of exploit to end battles instantly. With Alex, he has a skill called LP Toss, which has a sort of Space Invaders minigame where he fires records at enemies. If you manage to hit them even once, the enemy will lose a massive portion of their health or even result in an insta-kill. When I was grinding, I used this ability, and I suddenly had the battle over in seconds. This even works on bosses, which just isn’t fair, but hey, if you think the fights are going too slow, just use LP Toss, and you’ll be fine. Just don’t use it on the final boss, cause it will glitch him out and you won’t be able to progress in the fight. But while I can find some fun in the combat system, you know what I don’t find fun? The Mind Dungeon.
I’m sorry, uh… ACKK Studios, but I did not like the Mind Dungeon. I see the fun and the unique style you were going for, having you level up in a chamber that you explore yourself. But after the 30th floor, I was just thinking, “Boy, wish I could just have a menu.” Yes, it’s simple, but simple can be effective. But hey, the look of the Mind Dungeon is pretty neato. In fact, this game has a ton of insane visuals that kept me going. Alex finding corpses of himself all over a dungeon, a giant tree on top of a hill with a pink moon, a giant entity in the sky covered in stars, and just the mass of colors that pop out. The graphics alone are simple but striking and fun to look at, but when the game gets real insane, it’s just so much fun to look at. The visuals of this game alone are worth the experience alone. While people still despise this game (And boy do they), the majority at least appreciate the insane visuals. Potential is here to some people, and I agree with this. People also really love the music in this game. It is very quirky and fun, but also has a ton of great vocal tracks. I know some people hate the vocals in this game, but I think there’s a sort of bizarre charm to them, like anything else in the game. Also one of the tracks was made by Toby Fox, of Undertale fame. So yeah, decent music.
But the one thing in this game, the thing that really made me actually appreciate making it through the game, despite the awkward writing, the sometimes long battles, and the Mind Dungeon, was the final moments of the game. And, this goes without saying, but…
(SPOILERS FOR YIIK IN THIS PARAGRAPH)
Suddenly, with the promise of the end of the world coming, and the games tone changes. You now have a set number of days, which is kinda like Persona. Though, not much you can do in those days aside from talk to your friends for a limited time and do some sidequests. But once the days are up, things take a dark turn. Your friends go to celebrate the New Years, and as things are starting to fall apart all around them, they are attacked by the destroyer of the earth. And despite Alex giving a powerful speech to his friends, training for months, preparing to fight back, they… lose. If this was any other RPG, this would be the big highlight and would end with the boss failing, everyone celebrates, lives their life, credits. But no, they lose, all of Alex’s friends die, the earth is destroyed, and Alex is forced to travel across space and time. Like… wow. I will happily criticize this games writing, but I was shocked that it had the balls to do that. This moment was actually super powerful. Alex was completely alone, all because he was a self centered manchild, and only now, he sees how he failed everyone. It’s quite an amazing moment…. The ending itself, however. I mean, it’s not terrible, but… what? Like, it has so much stuff there that it feels stuffed. Plot twists that come out of nowhere, an insane bit of imagery here and there, another Earthbound reference for good measure, and despite all this, the games ends… like that. I mean, I can appreciate that there was no accurate solution for this and they just had to take the best outcome, but… It’s not the worst ending to a video game, but man, slow down, YIIK and please explain yourself to the class. You don’t gotta go so fast.
(END OF SPOILERS)
So, yeah, I like YIIK. I’m like one of the five people that do. And I am a picky motherfucker. Now, is YIIK a perfect game? No, far from it. This game is very much janky. It takes a specific person to like this game. I guess my love for something new is why I liked it. It’s why I like stuff like Drakengard, Anarchy Reigns, and most Grasshopper games. Now, I don’t see YIIK as a huge accomplishment, but not as a failure either. ACKK Studios has something here. They have creativity. I see YIIK as a learning experience for them. They got something here. They were able to make this game, and I think it was for the best. Needless to say, if ACKK learns from this and manages to take the criticism to some heart and work on them for their next game, they will really have something here. But do I recommend YIIK: A Postmodern RPG? Well, that depends on you. If you want something with neat visuals and you don’t mind a bit of awkward writing and some long battles, this is a fine experience. But that’s up for you to decide.
Next Time: The Night in the Woods review. I swear