So, remember when I said I was cautiously optimistic at the end of my commentary for the first part? Well, playing through the end of chapter 1 has made me less thrilled about this game. And man, we have a lot to talk about.
Before diving in, my friend Rasen released the first episode of YIIK Pics, which goes into a lot of background information on the game and Ackk Studios, which I recommend checking out because it’s a whole lot shorter and is all commentary:
THE WHOLE COMPUTER SCENE
I’m sorry that I’m going into summary mode when the video’s right there, but everything about this sucks. But also the last video was watched for a grand collective total of 4 minutes, so if things are consistent, you’ll probably won’t bother watching it.
Alex heads home after his ordeal, where he angsts about failing to save Sammy while he just stood there, stretching out his arm with a bored expression on his face. He also mentions that his mother singlehandedly takes care of him and his sister because she’s one of the whizzes behind YIIK‘s version of the internet. Which kinda makes him look like more of an asshole because he was whining about having to get groceries for her in the first part. Dude, it’s whatever.
Anyway, he hops on the internet and sees that his friend sent him a video. Alex is completely normal about this and speculates that his friend sent him porn. He goes on to spend an uncomfortable amount of time speculating about what kind of porn it could be. Then he starts thinking about whether or not any of his female classmates from high school became sex workers. This is easily the most uncomfortable and awkward part of the game so far.
So, I played some Danganronpa before continuing my YIIK playthrough and I want to take back one criticism I had in the last part. I realize that I actually have no problem with monologuing because Naegi is out here doing it all the time and I respect him for it. That’s actually just a bunch of visual novels I’ve played, actually. The actual difference is that I just hate Alex. Just look at the shit he thinks about in his head.
And also, Alex’s thoughts are voiced out. The voice acting is kinda okay, but hearing his thoughts said out loud kinda drags it down more because I just want to read it and not hear him say bizarre uncomfortable shit.
The video is finally up. It’s a video of Sammy’s last moments with Alex, taken from an elevator camera.
So, this part of the game is very controversial because it parallels the real life case of Elisa Lam, or Lam Ho Yi. She went to a hotel and disappeared, only to turn up dead days later in the tanks that provided the hotel’s water supply. Besides the mysterious circumstances of her death, there was the video recording of her on an elevator, which is the last known moments of her being alive. She behaved erratically before getting off, which most have attributed to her bipolar disorder, though other speculation went off into some bizarre conspiracy theory shit that’s kinda disrespectful to talk about.
YIIK mimics the elevator video down to the camera angle and Sammy referenced Lam’s reported belief that people would take her away when she screamed at Alex in the last part.
The thing is, YIIK does not handle this in a tasteful manner. Sammy, Lam’s stand-in, is described to look skeletal and she looks bloody and disheveled when she’s taken away at the end of the last part. The commenters on the conspiracy message board talk over her, focusing more on the sensationalism of the event than the actual tragic disappearance. What YIIK does is turn Elisa Lam’s death into a spectacle for the sake of driving its own story. This isn’t like Buzzfeed Unsolved or whatever, talking about her death and discussing theories. It’s more like YIIK went “oh, cool mystery” and decided to integrate it into its story in a really tasteless manner, Lam’s mentally unwell episode becoming a whacky supernatural plot point. The contrast of all this with Alex’s ramblings just before does not really help.
Also, despite being concerned about this, Alex decides to immediately go to sleep after seeing the video. Our hero.
REFERENCES AND INCONSISTENT SETTING
YIIK ostensibly takes place in the 1990s as the new millennium is looming overhead. While dial-up internet seems to be a frequent story element, there was a whole lot of things in this part of the game that I played that makes the setting feel inconsistent with itself and those inconsistencies mainly came in the form of references.
So, everybody following the YIIKscourse probably heard about YIIK cribbing a few lines from Haruki Murakami’s book, After Dark. As somebody that’s read that book, I can also say that the scene in the game where a second-person narrator talks about a sleeping girl feels like a homage to the chapters where a narrator in the same voice talks about the main character’s sleeping sister.
However, the first toes the line of plagiarism, so the YIIK creators went on to argue that in-universe, Alex read After Dark, and the Proto Woman quoting the book is actually his memories of reading it manifesting in her.
But there’s one problem with that: After Dark came out in 2004, contradicting the time period of the game. It makes no sense for Alex to have read the book. And well, the excuse is also nonsense considering an After Dark homage happens independently of Alex. Like dudes, just take the L and admit that you cribbed from Murakami. It’s okay, don’t go “she breathes through her skin” on us.
It isn’t just the Murakami stuff either that makes the setting feel inconsistent.
In this part, we meet Michael, a young photographer that is also an obnoxious gamer and the newest party member. Michael and Alex shoot the shit and plan to go looking at the factory, but before that, they go into town to get a new camera and to check out the local arcade.
It’s upon seeing the arcade that the two start geeking out about games in a jarring way. That’s when Michael says that games like Chrono Trigger, Lufia 2 and Secret of Mana are the holy grail of his youth.
Secret of Mana came out in 1993, Chrono Trigger in 1995 and Lufia 2 in 1996. Given the title of the game, it probably takes place in 1999, which means these games weren’t released too long ago. Yet, Michael here is referring to them with the reverence of a nostalgic man looking at the glory days of his youth.
It’s much like the Murakami stuff in that YIIK is making shout outs to things without caring about actual continuity. You can say that these aren’t in-universe references, but that doesn’t change how jarring these references are and also makes the Murakami stuff look weird.
And we’re not even at the Iwata grave yet.
Anyway, I still like Michael more than Alex because his attack minigame doesn’t take fucking forever.
I apologize but I sincerely think the Soul Survivor is cool. The vocal theme is cheesy, but a vocal theme kicking in as boss music in a soundtrack full of instrumentals is cool to me. I live for this shit. Alex’s melodramatic narration on it dampens things a bit, but overall ends the chapter on a more positive note for me.
My cautious optimism turned to disappointment as my hatred of Alex solidified at the start of this video. Thank goodness he got owned by the Soul Survivor. We will continue on with YIIK soon, hopefully (well, not hopefully for me).
Also, game, you can’t have characters refer to a photo without showing it, especially if it portrays sick interdimensional traveler shit that’s plot important. Come on.