Most of this episode of the YIIK let’s play is made up of cutscenes. Alex gets yelled at and made fun of a bunch in this episode, so it’s my favorite so far.
Gotta say though, any sort of venom the narrative has toward Alex is downplayed by the fact that most of his accusers are apologetic afterward. Vella rightfully tears into Alex for wanting her to ditch work for his quest and apologizes… at least until Alex starts trying to guilt trip her into coming along, anyway. And then there’s Rory, who apologizes for dragging the gang into a cosmic “horror” situation. The thing about that, though, is that Alex did the same thing with Michael, inviting him to check out the factory/hotel without telling him about the weird shit he encountered, which he never apologized for.
Plus, on Alex’s character, he is exclusively called out for his selfishness and laziness. He is not called out for how he approaches women or race (ugh, the ginger joke). Even if he suddenly squares up and takes responsibility for his life, he’s still a bit of a creep.
Anyway, the record Alex is hunting for is definitely going to be bad news but YIIK does that thing where a character says something’s bad but refuses to elaborate as to why which tempts somebody to pursue the thing anyway, which is always infuriating to me. But then again, Vella was at work and I too would like to get out of talking to Alex as soon as possible.
On their journey for the record, the boys chat a bunch about college, the economy and fears of the future. It further cements Alex as a fucking loser and Rory as the only guy in the bunch I respect. That said, I continue to not be surprised that the creators are right-leaning with the narrative’s constant contempt for non-STEM degrees. The title drop of Y2K is finally discussed to be a big deal even though literally nobody cares before this point; like hey, maybe the developers could have tied the dismal shithole Rory’s from into the Y2K panic? Just a thought.
(why is his mom a fucking leg)
Also, toward the end of the episode, I go online at a random internet cafe and check out ONISM. I actually live for checking out pretend internet stuff in things, even if some of the stuff said on it is kinda creepy (again – the weird incel-like stuff seems like a product of a world instead of Alex). I also finally see that picture that Alex and Michael were talking about at the start of chapter 2 and on one hand, it’s good that it actually exists, but on the other, why didn’t you show it in the cutscene? Anyway, there seems to be a bunch more fake internet stuff, so I’m thinking it’d be neat to have a standalone episode where I just read through those.
We get two new party members before that but I have yet to properly use them. I’m thinking that I’ll have to bench Rory in favor of one of them. I appreciate his abilities (except the skill that lowers an enemy’s luck, what the fuck kinda power is that), but in a game where random battles take forever, I’ll have to prioritize killing power above all else and Rory can’t do that.
Well, here’s to hoping that Alex doesn’t say anything racist about the new characters.
I also want to bring up another thing that I’ve been meaning to talk about: Gamasutra’s JRPG article. A while back, before YIIK released, Gamasutra posted an article about western indie developers “pushing the JRPG genre forward.”
This article came under fire for good reason. For one, it promotes this weird white savior complex toward JRPGs, believing that western developers will be the ones to uplift JRPGs. It does not interview any actual Japanese developers and the article continues to push this narrative despite also referencing Nier: Automata, a modern hit JRPG, if not one of the greatest JRPGs of all time. Also, never mind the fact that Dragon Quest XI released a year before this article to great reception, in spite of one of the YIIK creators statements on the Dragon Quest structure.
It also presents a rather limited view of JRPGs that I see a lot from people that hate JRPGs: that they stopped being good after the PS1 era. The article gives a token reference to Atlus RPGs and Shadow Hearts, the only time it really references non-Square-Enix JRPGs, which I think is part of the problem. It feels that a lot of people inherently associate JRPGs with Square-Enix to the point that they refuse to check out JRPGs made by other companies. Any stagnation on Squeenix’s part is equated to stagnation of the genre, which throws a lot of excellent games under the bus that goes against that claim.
For this article, Gamasutra interviewed the creators of LISA and YIIK: A Postmodern RPG. Now, I love LISA (minus Joyful) but Austin’s hot takes fucking sucks. But we’re not talking about him. We’re looking at what the creator of YIIK has to say about JRPGs.
Looking back on this, YIIK is a game that somehow embodies the flaws the creators say about the genre.
On the subject of grinding, YIIK misses the mark. Yes, it’s true that enemies in YIIK don’t respawn, I like that, I respect that. The time you save from not having to grind, however, is balanced out by the fact that battling and leveling up is tedious as hell. Alex’s attack takes forever to do if you’re trying to maximize damage. You have to do a dodging minigame every time you’re attacked – and you have to do it for all characters separately if it’s a group attack. Yeah, there’s a turbo button, but in a battle system that depends on active input, it feels like a liability. And of course, leveling up in this game is the worst thing ever.
In short, YIIK took out the tedium of level grinding and replaced it by making battles and the very act of leveling up tedious, making the issue way worse. I’d rather level grind like normal, because I can just sorta turn my brain off and watch something while doing it. Not with this game.
Now, on the subject of filler, it’s kinda interesting because I have to admit, there’s little narrative filler in YIIK. It’s a story that moves from point to point reasonably quickly. Even this record fetch quest tries to balance out time wasted by trying to do character moments or talking about plot points. But going back to the grinding thing, it’s balanced out by the fact that there’s just so much tedium to the overall experience. Allanson’s out here talking about how JRPGs and games waste time in general while wasting an absurd amount of time.
In short: going back to read this after YIIK got critically panned is hilarious to me and Gamasutra truly fucked up with this take. For more commentary on this article, I recommend checking out this thread by twitter user, uh, highimpactsex, he’s got a bunch of more general takes on the subject even though I disagree that Zelda is an RPG.