Let’s Play YIIK: A Postmodern RPG – Part 1

(If you’re just joining now, all parts of the YIIK let’s play so far is collected here.)

I made it a Patreon goal to do a let’s play of YIIK: A Postmodern RPG. However, my friend Rasen Bran is choosing to subject himself to YIIK for a let’s play podcast, and you know what, I’m a person that believes in solidarity. Nobody suffers alone.

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is a fascinating game in that it came to be reviled shortly after release. It achieved true gaming centrism for a time in that most gamers, regardless of political affiliation, hated it. At least until its creator showed up on a podcast associated with right-wingers, because now there are nerds out there claiming that YIIK is a game unfairly maligned by the gaming journalists. Whatever.

So let me lay down the groundwork for these videos. If you’ve seen some of my past stuff, I’m no good at commentary, so there won’t be any for the videos; but, I know that some people love that, so whatever. Except for boss battles, first time encounters and opportunities to show off new characters, I will also be cutting out battles for reasons that will be explained later or are just self-evident in the videos. There are also times where I’m just kinda screwing around or messed up (I completely forgot that Panda could be used as a stepping stone for that one puzzle, lmao), so I just cut to when I get it done right to save time. In the future, I’ll probably end up cutting backtracking and other time wasting adjacent things if they pop up.

BEGINNING

Not going to lie, I love the title screen. It establishes a nice mood, though the game so far does not feel as mysterious as the feeling the title screen left me.

So for the beginning of the game, it asks you some personal questions on a colorful backdrop that feels akin to Earthbound. My answers were a mix of joke and sincere stuff. I do get the impression that the game was intended for a straight guy audience, as most of the generated names that you pick are for guys and that the game specifically asks about a girl in your life. I’m sure I’ll regret putting “Ratatouille” down sometime in the future.

THE ZINE GUY

The video game zine salesman hanging in front of Alex’s house has a unique name, which had me wondering if he was a real guy, so I looked him up. Matt Hawkins the NPC represents Matthew Edward Hawkins, game journalist and game curator. He helps run Attract Mode, a collective that covers interesting tidbits of game culture. I can’t tell why he’s in the game, but he seems like an alright person. I admire people that curate game stuff.

Besides doing Early Kickstarter, he’s apparently in charge of some sidequests in the game, so I have that to look forward to.

Gotta say, given that reactionary gamers are suddenly defending YIIK, it’s hilarious to me that one of the first characters you meet is a game journalist.

ALEX’S MONOLOGUES

What made me dislike Alex before he made the ginger joke is his narrations. Rather than leaving the player to interpret how Alex feels, the guy goes on long-winded monologues. It’s not even just how he feels, but he also narrates unnecessary things.

For example, let’s talk about the elevator scene at 28:56. All of the narration there is unnecessary. Alex narrates trying to find the cat and finding nothing in the elevator when that’s just kinda self-evident. Alex narrates the experience of the elevator dying down on him, but his freaked out reaction when the narration ends shows how he feels anyway; maybe make him openly beg for help instead of having him beg in his head like a weenie.

You can say that all this is a character thing and that him monologuing in his head all the time is a trait of him being full of himself, but surely, he could be monologuing about things that aren’t a waste of my time.

BATTLE SYSTEM

YIIK uses an action command system in battles, with you timing attacks and dodges. It is also horribly slow. Fighting one or two enemies? Sure. Fighting a bunch? Welcome to hell, because each attack from an enemy is a several second long wait to do the exact same minigame over and over. Not capable of one-shotting the enemies? Cutting them down is also going to take forever.

Alex’s attack is kinda annoying. You time hits on a spinning record player and to make the most out of your attack, you gotta go through the whole thing. Something I learned after recording though is that you can hit the yellow segments on Alex’s record multiple times, so I’m going to see if that will make battles go faster in the future.

Sammy so far is my favorite character because you just have to hold the stick back for a few seconds to attack. Shame she got disappeared.

WEIRDNESS

There’s a lot of weird things in the game, but what’s truly weird is that people are selective about which ones to react to. Sammy’s justified because I guess that’s just how it be with her, but Alex, man.

Seeing a big ominous pyramid in an abstract hellscape? Yeah, that’s something to react to. But he has nothing to say about the ominous robed people and the magical blue woman that disappears in front of him he saw minutes ago?

Then there’s Panda. Alex doesn’t react like, “holy shit a talking panda,” he’s acting like he’s seeing a long lost friend. I would get it if he’s an imaginary friend, but Sammy acknowledges that Panda’s real. Considering that Sammy also has weird stuff going on, maybe Dali is some kind of familiar and Panda’s one that Alex brought out of his subconscious. Whatever.

It’s just kinda annoying combined with Alex’s monologuing. He’ll go on overexplaining some bullshit while ignoring even grander bullshit and ah, I hate it.

GRAPHICS AND MUSIC

Okay so this is the one part of the game I sincerely like. YIIK‘s got a real nice low poly aesthetic that’s really vibrant with the colors. The environments look good, especially the more surreal settings and I like the character models and their stuttering walking animations; though there have been a few things that’s broken immersion, like the static movements and facial expressions in the last cutscene:

the face of concern

Before YIIK came out, I actually followed Ackk Studios because I saw a few screenshots of this game and was drawn in. Welp.

Music is also pretty good and one of the few things that makes battles bearable. I actually really love the town theme and its jazzy upbeat-edness. I’m pretty early in the game though, so I hope that future towns keep up the momentum of good town music.

Also, Toby Fox made a song for the game and I love it:

LESSONS LEARNED

This is my first time uploading a serious video to YouTube. It legitimately took 4 hours for half of it to upload, so I had to leave my computer on overnight so that it could get done. In the future, I’m going to have to figure out how to lessen upload times because leaving my computer on overnight is just wasteful.

What do I think of the game so far? I wish that Alex would shut up and that battles go quicker, but otherwise I’m cautiously optimistic. At the very least, I rate YIIK higher than Citizens of Earth so far.

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