Game Review #100: YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG (Nintendo Switch)
Updated: Oct 8, 2019
Reviewer by: Allan J.
Developer: Ackk Studios LLC
Publisher: Ysbryd Games
Category: RPG, Adventure
Release Date: 1.17.2019
Price (at time of review): $19.99
Buy YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
Tip: Video Games Are Not a Waste of Time
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I love RPGs! As a kid, I was good at puzzle games, I was alright at platformers, but RPGs were my favorite. I’m not sure if it was because they didn’t tend to require as much prowess with regard to quick reflexes or precision as compared to many other genres, or if it was because I just loved a good story, but either way, I have always had a special place in my heart for a good RPG. YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG—pronounced “why-two-kay”—definitely falls into this category.
YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG takes us back to 1999, when the whole world was freaking out about the Y2K bug. For those of you too young to remember, this was a computer programming code that only recognized the last 2 digits of the year, so everyone thought that all computers would fail at the stroke of midnight in the year 2000, ushering in the end of times, or something like that. You play the part of Alex, a fresh-out-of-college, flannel-wearing, bearded hipster, searching for your place in the world. While on your way to the grocery store to pick up some items for your mom, you happen upon a crazy-looking cat who steals your grocery list and leads you on a chase to an abandoned—and seemingly haunted—Factory Hotel. Some eerie supernatural stuff starts happening, and it just keeps getting weirder and weirder from there.
The story sucks you right in and becomes very addicting. In fact, it took quite a bit of self-discipline on my part to put the game down and start writing this review! Let’s talk about why I love this game so much!
Fight Me, Bro!
So, I mentioned before that one of the reasons I may have such an affinity for RPGs is the tendency for the genre to be a little easier for those of us without quick reflexes or precision. Well, that really isn’t the case with YIIK, as the battle system, while turn-based, almost completely depends on your reflexes and precision-timed button presses.
Each character has a unique attack which requires a unique command sequence. Alex, for example, attacks with different vinyl LPs, and to boost your attack, you must press the A-Button at certain sections of the record as it revolves on the turntable. If you miss the yellow or red sections, your combo count does not increase. Miss enough times, and your attack is over. Michael, your friend from childhood, attacks with his camera. In order to boost your combo, you must hit the correct button, X, A, or B, at the precise moment it passes the trigger line, kind of like Guitar Hero or Dance Dance Revolution. One of the characters, Rory, is a pacifist, and actually has no attack command. Instead, you can select a character for him to throw himself in front of if they should be attacked by the enemy, absorbing the hit himself.
Now, the active involvement in the turn-based battle system does not stop at your attacks. When your enemies attack you, you are given the chance to either defend against the attack for reduced damage, or if you time it just right, completely dodge the attack and take 0 damage. There is a bar to the side of the screen with a small yellow section and an even smaller red section. If you hit the A-Button and stop the cursor in either of these sections, you will either defend (yellow) or dodge (red) the attack. This definitely keeps things interesting, and also keeps you from just pressing A over and over again until the bad guys are dead. You actually have to be actively involved in a turn-based battle, which is kind of refreshing!
The battles, as far as random encounters, are similar to Chronus Arc, which I just recently reviewed, in that they are random encounters on the world map, but in dungeons the enemies wander around in plain sight, so for the most part, you can choose if you want to engage them in a battle or just leave them be.
Word To Your Mother
Aside from the battle system, YIIK also has a unique-but-familiar feel for the general gameplay. You have your towns and dungeons to explore, and you can wander in between them on the world map. While the graphics are different, the overall feel of the towns and dungeons is very much a tribute to another of my favorite RPG series, the Mother series, Earthbound (Mother 2) in particular. This is due to the fact that you are roaming around in modern times and using weapons like vinyl records and keytars rather than daggers and guns. You also restore health by eating pizza and burgers, you save your progress by making a phone call, and the intro has a questionnaire quite similar to the initial questionnaire in Earthbound. I also noticed that the entities you encounter, the Soul Survivors in particular, bear a striking resemblance to Giygas, the main villain in Earthbound. This, again, is more of a tribute to the game than IP thievery, and is done so very respectfully.
Enter the Mind Dungeon
While I was playing through YIIK, I was really racking up the experience points, but 3 hours in, I was still level 1. Just as I was about to write to the developers to see if I was missing something, the game introduced the Mind Dungeon, which is where you can apply your EXP and level up your characters. You access the Mind Dungeon by the same means as saving, through picking up a phone and calling a strange and unnamed person on the other end who takes you to the metaphysical realm inside your mind.
You move through the dungeon level-by-level, picking which stats you want to improve with each level up. Now, you only get to pick and choose the stats of Alex, your main character, while the rest of the characters just get whatever they get. You do have to deliberately choose to level up your allies by electing to “Encourage your friends to level up” inside the lobby of the mind dungeon, otherwise they will just continue to bank their EXP and remain at their current level. I did notice that if your friends leave the party for a while and return, their EXP has been used up, and their levels have been increased as well. So far, I have not noticed that the EXP required to level up increases as you move up in levels, as every level up has required exactly 100 EXP. The EXP received at the end of battles also seems to stay about the same, even as the difficulty increases.
Visually, YIIK is another retro-style addition to the ever-growing—and personally ever-welcomed—trend sweeping the video game industry as of late. It reminds me of the PS1 era, but with almost a Nintendo 64 feel. The graphics are smooth, bright, and colorful, and very aesthetically pleasing. They are also quite appropriate for the time period in which the story is set. The music is also quite nice. The battle themes are varied, which keeps it interesting, and the different tracks are all well-written and energetic. The theme for the Mind Dungeon is trippy and unique, with a certain unnervingly creepy aspect to it that really sets the mood quite appropriately. I thoroughly enjoyed the soundtrack throughout the game.
YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG is awesome! I love this game! I started this review with the header, “Tip: Video Games Are Not a Waste of Time”, which is a phrase that appears from time to time during the load screens. Now, while I believe this may be referring to making game design a career choice more so than just playing them all the time, I can safely say that this game did successfully waste a lot of my time—but in a good way! It is one of those games that moves slowly, but keeps it so interesting that you actually don’t realize how much time you put in until you see the gameplay time on the save screen. Be prepared to spend a lot of time with this one, but rest assured that you will not notice the hours passing. If you are a fan of Earthbound, Super Mario RPG, or even just a good RPG in general, then I would absolutely, 100% recommend adding this gem to your Switch library.
Buy YIIK: A Post-Modern RPG from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Ysbryd Games