Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a massive JRPG fan, and Persona 4 Golden is without doubt one of my favorite games, ever. In fact, there have been a couple of hypothetical discussions in which myself and Connor Selinske end up fighting to the death to prove our love for Persona, and it’s probably pretty accurate. Imagine my delight when I stumbled across YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, a zany, colorful, sarcastic, and wonderful 3-D JRPG being developed by Ackk Studios, and published by Ysbryd Games.
At first, I stood back and watched for a while, unsure of what I was really seeing. It looked like an RPG at times, and other times it looked like it was doing its own thing. Let me explain why that could be the greatest thing.
To add a little context behind my playthrough, let me tell you about the early stages of the game’s narrative. YIIK is set in the 90s, when everyone was panicking about the Y2K crash, and features eight strangers who meet under unusual circumstances surrounding conspiracies, abductions, and the strangeness of trying to become an adult in the “real world.” It is one such abduction that brings (at least) three members of this group together, as I saw at EGX, when they travel to a place called Wind Town in search of a girl who disappeared before their eyes.
Ackk Studios did tell me that the game’s narrative won’t revolve entirely around abductions, and considering that Adventure Time and Scott Pilgrim were quoted as influences, I wouldn’t be surprised if YIIK goes off on some pretty unexpected tangents. As an avid fan of both, I’m hoping this is the case, because these tangents are often where the most fun is to be had. David O’Reilly was also stated as an inspiration for YIIK‘s 3-D visual style, as he is known for his animated 3-D films, and even created an episode of Adventure Time.
In the EGX build, players traveled to the aforementioned Wind Town, where they questioned the locals for more information about the missing girl. Before being given the chance to explore, though, I was privy to a snippet of the game’s amazingly sarcastic humor when the characters had a quick chat about what they were going to do. A lot of this humor came directly from a girl named Vella, who could have been plucked straight from the pages (or screen) of Scott Pilgrim, and I immediately fell in love with her and everything she was about – essentially, putting people down. This same sense of humor traveled over to the game’s turn-based battles, which seemed to occur every time I spoke to one of Wind Town’s aggressive inhabitants. Then again, one was an “underpaid shop assistant” who “smelled bad” and another was a hoodlum with hooks for hands, so I reckon I’d be pretty annoyed, too.
Not only were the enemies extremely unique, but so were the attacks and skills at my disposal. As expected, each character has their own set of skills, and they’re all equally novel. For example, Alex, the main protagonist – or at least the first protagonist – threw LPs (vinyls) at the enemy, and one of his attacks had me timing button presses with a spinning LP. This timing mechanic was a nice touch, as it kept me actively involved in the battle, rather than sitting back to watch the attacks unfold. Vella, on other hand, used a bass to attack enemies, and she did it with the grace and attitude that I’d come to expect from her, of course.
As I’ve played a few JRPGs in my time, the timing mechanic felt quite natural, though some prompts may have been useful for newcomers to the genre. For a game that is quite niche, it makes sense to be as accommodating as possible for those that might be stepping outside of their comfort zone. In addition, I preferred the anime style of the characters when in conversation over the 3-D styling of the game itself, but this is no real reflection on the 3-D visuals, as I felt the same in Persona. I just love those crisp anime lines…
While I’ve seen far less of YIIK than I would like, I can already foresee a passionate cult following if Ackk Studios manage to imbue the same sense of “indie” humor and ideas throughout the finished title. If you need another JRPG to keep your eye on in 2015, or feel like taking a chance on a game that may not have normally made it into your gaming library, make it YIIK: A Postmodern RPG.
More information on this unusually charming title can be found on the studio’s blog or Twitter, and watch out for a potential release towards the end of the year on PC, Linux, Mac, PS Vita, PS4 and Wii U. I have a feeling that YIIK might just be exactly what my Vita has been waiting for, but at this point I’m ready to play the game just about anywhere, on any platform, at any time. In the words of Adventure Time’s Finn, it seems like it’ll be absolutely “algebraic!”