After the complete shitshow of Chapter 4, Chapter 5 seems to be going into… okay territory?
It turns out that Alex and Essentia were gone for a few days and everybody else just kinda left. During this absence, Michael mysteriously disappeared and Rory will kill himself if Alex was a huge dick to him. He will also leave a suicide note that is so bizarrely out of character that it’s hard to tell if the developers actually intended him to be sympathetic or if they just forgot how his character acted, because he’s suddenly a huge asshole ranting about normies, which is completely unrelated to the problems he’s been telling Alex about. Also, the note implies that he’s gay, which implies that may have been the reason why his sister was bullied – but this is told through the framing of a gay joke. Stay classy, YIIK. Anyway, thanks for showing me that cursed tweet, Uzuki.
Anyway, Alex gets yelled at by his mom for disappearing, who had called a cop with the worst voice acting in the game to look for him. Just like everything else, he easily gets left off the hook, as his mom is too busy being a libertarian crisis profiteer. He goes on to recruit his friends to confront the coming apocalypse, but hmm, where’s Michael?
Michael suddenly calls him and Alex finds him floating in a snowy forest with no shirt on. Because the game so flagrantly ignores “show don’t tell,” Michael had apparently went into the Mind Dungeon for a week and ventured deep enough to witness the lives of his parallel selves, ascending to become Proto Michael. After four chapters of being a nothing character, Michael is suddenly a wizened powerful guy – whose character development happened entirely offscreen. He is also aware that Alex is the destroyer of worlds and he blames himself for it, believing that if he had just stayed friends with Alex, he wouldn’t have destroyed the world. The devs clearly subscribe to the philosophy of “if you’re not nice to the asshole, they’ll become an asshole even though they already were one.”
It doesn’t fucking matter, though. Despite Michael having the ability to float and going through the Mind Dungeon, he is completely unchanged in battle, with the only changes being his stats scaled up to your own. Proto Michael just exists to give exposition and spout more of YIIK‘s philosophical nonsense.
But yeah, the whole gang is here! It’s time to prepare for the coming apocalypse.
And that’s when the game suddenly turns into fucking Persona, which had me lose my goddamn mind. The game switches to a day-by-day progression system, where days can be spent hanging out with the gang, training in the Mind Dungeon (WHICH SHOULDN’T TAKE UP A DAY BECAUSE YOU’RE JUST FUCKING OPENING DOORS) or going outside to do sidequests and level grind. The game’s rapid progression from plot point to plot point evaporates as the game turns into that last month in Persona 3, where the apocalypse is coming and all you can do is grind and hang out with your last social links.
You don’t have to go level grind though, because hanging out with your friends gives you enough EXP to level up each session. And it’s probably more rewarding too – you don’t have to fight enemies and you get some character stuff. It’s actually kinda okay, too? Rory’s character arc actually even gets completed in this part, with him coming to terms with his sister’s death and deciding to help others. I don’t know how many of these scenes there are until Chapter 6 starts, but they’re alright. I even had some of my own fun editing in music for the video.
My problem though is that yoU CAN’T SUDDENLY HAVE YOUR SQUAD OF CHARACTERS ACTING LIKE REAL FRIENDS IN THE SECOND TO LAST CHAPTER, YIIK. Like, I would have liked stuff like this earlier in the game because up until now, everyone except Alex and Vella were lacking (or poorly written in Rory’s case). The hang out with your friends scenes absolutely reek of, “oh shit we forgot to have our characters feel like characters.” The scenes are alright, but it just feels kinda unearned with how rapidly the game moved along with character stuff until now.
However, I have to say: if chapter 5 has the option to just be all character scenes, chapter 5 might be the second-best – if not the best – chapter in YIIK. And it’s only because its aping better games. If momentum keeps up, I can actually finish this game next week and I can go back to playing games that are actually good.