The END of YIIK

It’s been a rough several weeks, playing this game. I bet y’all want me to look at indie games that aren’t YIIK, huh? Well, good news, I’m finally finished with this game! Whoo boy! What a disappointment. Where do I even start?

Let’s start with this nice drawing LandOfObscurePotatoes made for me! I love it, thank you, friend!

But yeah, YIIK.

We leave Alex’s room and reality has completely fallen apart. Alex’s dad is there, acting like he always was here and upon stepping outside, everything is just neon outlines. Alex’s friends have become neon drawings that have completely forgotten about the coming end and wants to go party in New York as Y2K approaches. You know what? I actually like the setting leading up to the boss and even though the song that plays is kinda cheesy, I think it sets a good mood. It’s a Komm Susser Todd kinda mood, though not as good.

Alex talks to Essentia and she explains that his reality has been breaking apart in the lead-up to its destruction, which seems to be an awful meteor with Alex’s face. It acts as a good explanation for some of the weirdness in the game and it’s something that was built up, but it doesn’t explain all of the weirdness? Like, the Soul Survivors are a completely new thing to Alex at the beginning of the game, but he and the crew says nothing about the weird instances of Soul Survivors, like the giant one that hangs over Wind Town at night in Chapter 2 and well, the fact that they met God. Like actually, what the fuck was up with that? I thought it’d come up again but it just exists to be some pace-breaking nonsense at the end of Chapter 2.

Anyway, the gang goes for a night on the town and as midnight approaches, that meteor of Alex gets closer and closer. Alex’s friends suddenly snap back to reality and join with Alex to fight…

…this. This is the climactic boss of the game. It’s so fucking bad. Instead of keeping it as a big meteor (excuse me, comet), the Proto Comet shrunk to be as big as the party members and it has wavy arms and legs like those inflatable things on car dealerships, destroying whatever sense of danger this thing had. The Proto Comet is extremely lame and it’s only highlighted by the music, which is genuinely the worst track in the game. It tries so hard to be a Persona boss theme, but it forgot that the lyrics are supposed to be used more for aesthetic, so it’s extremely melodramatic. This is somehow lamer than P3‘s Strega fights, I can’t believe YIIK took a world destroying threat and made it suck ass in every way.

But do you know what else sucks? The battle is scripted. The Proto Comet will start using Banish on the party members like the final boss of P4 did until Alex is all alone. A scripted fight isn’t bad on its own, but dude, you literally had most of the chapter be about building up the strength to fight this thing. You gave us double the amount of time we need to prepare for the fight and the fight ended up meaning nothing. Thanks.

And Chapter 5 isn’t the only thing that doesn’t matter. The Proto Comet succeeds and somehow destroys Alex’s reality offscreen while sparing Alex – effectively bringing an abrupt end to a bunch of storylines. Alex trying to be responsible by looking for a job? Complete non-issue, now. Vella moving on from her reality? She’s dead, dude. Was there any significance to Proto-Michael at all? Doesn’t matter, dead. Claudio and Chondra’s issue with their missing brother? Well, we’ll get to that, but they’re dead. In fact, you can argue that a lot of problems in the game stopped mattering the moment the gang decided to focus on training for the apocalypse.

So, bizarrely, despite being the most poorly written character on account of the writers not knowing how to write about issues, Rory’s pretty much the only character that’s had a finished character arc before being killed off. Good for him, I guess.

In Chapter 6, in the loneliness of space (well, after Panda ditches him), Alex contemplates his past behavior and realizes how much he hates his past self. Now, I hate this in the same way that I hate “redemption through death” things. My kind of thing with that trope is that it acts like death resolves a shitty person if the act of dying is in the name of something heroic, you know, don’t speak ill of the dead times a bunch. But to me, resolving problems means putting in the work when you’re still alive. You need to be held accountable for your actions if you want to truly be forgiven and by dying, there’s no accountability.

With Alex, it’s the complete opposite in that everyone but him is dead. Here he is, crying about how he’s changed, how he sees his past self to be a huge asshole, which would be good if he actually did change his behavior before everyone died. He finally could have started pulling his weight around the house, but it becomes a non-issue because his mom gets a new job, so the “Alex getting a job” sub-plot gets dropped completely. He never apologizes for his bad attitude toward women and race and, well, more on that later. And again, I keep returning to this, but Alex apologizing to Rory is completely optional and there’s no narrative punishment for doubling down. Alex sees the errors of his past but is held accountable by nobody.

And as I’ve said before, criticisms of him being self-centered feels null when the whole universe literally revolves around him and when everyone else is killed off for the sake of his story.

Speaking of, our Sad Boy finds a comet that houses a whole bunch of other parallel Alexes that entered the Soul Space. It is also here where we’re treated to the worst reveal ever: one of the parallel Alexes is indeed Claudio and Chondra’s little brother.

This reveal legitimately means nothing because: one – Alex says fucking nothing about it and two – Claudio and Chondra, the two characters that would actually be invested in this revelation, are fucking dead. There’s just no pay-off. What annoyed me even more about this reveal is that essentially, the only three black characters exist for the sake of Alex’s mysterious nature. Thanks YIIK, very cool.

On the other side of the comet, Alex sees some evil Alexes ganging up to destroy more realities, combining into another Proto Comet. Why do the Alexes do this horrible thing? Well, one says that he wants to be entertained and… that’s pretty much it. There’s no actual motive behind this nonsense. I can’t believe that the whole YIIK universe revolves around these losers and monsters.

Alex follows the comet, leading us to a section where Alex chases images of his “friends” around space debris before seeing them get spirited away by Soul Survivors. YIIK finds more ways to waste your time by making you repeatedly backtrack for arbitrary reasons and also this whole section is completely unnecessary to begin with. We don’t need this. Anyway, Alex then sees an undestroyed reality in the distance and decides that he should go there to warn of the oncoming danger.

And so, the name selection at the beginning finally pays off. Alex appears on a modern day television owned by “you,” his parallel self and it turns out that all of his monologuing was him telling you a story. But also, that doesn’t fully work because some of Alex’s narration only works under the assumption that “you” can see what he sees; like at the beginning of chapter 3, he talks about the Soul Survivor in his house as if you can also see them. Whatever, post-modernism, baby. Your Alex apparently accepts what’s going on and decides to squad up with their set of friends.

And then the parallel selves of the gang show up and I lost my goddamn mind.

Everybody’s decked in JRPG fantasy gear. Chondra’s a fucking cat girl for crying out loud.

Folks?

YIIK is an isekai.

All this reality crossing stuff is isekai stuff. YIIK: A Postmodern RPG was an isekai the entire time and it’s fully embracing it now.

My Alex is a girl named Dio and the game actually follows through with a nice girl model; presumably the guy is also decked in fantasy gear, though I hope that it isn’t “Normal Alex Again but in armor.” She doesn’t really say much, given that she’s my actual avatar in this case. Rory expresses the desire to punch an Alex, so it can be assumed that your Alex is a bit of an asshole – or maybe this version of Rory’s the dick. Hard to say because this alternate gang doesn’t really say much.

Surprisingly, Alex doesn’t say much to them either? Like, I know that they aren’t “his” friends, but after wasting our time chasing hallucinations (…I think??) of his friends, you’d think he’d say something.

But anyway, back to business. Instead of fighting a lame Proto Comet, the crew lands on the comet where they have to fight four different aspects of Alex: laziness, pretentiousness, boredom and shadiness. Also wow the laziness one sucks, way to sneak in one more fat joke before the end.

My issue with the alternate Alexes is that they attack parts of Alex’s personality, but they don’t attack how he treats other people. At least in the first half of the game, Alex is really bad on women and race and that just goes completely unaddressed, here. Combined with how a lot of these problems crop up independently of Alex, it’s pretty much clear that those problems are problems with the game and the developers don’t really seem to see that as a failure on Alex’s part.

You beat all the Alexes, opening up the mouth of a giant one that leads you to Proto Alex. But before you fight Proto-Alex, Sammy finally reappears! As a ghost. She died, I guess. Because this game respects women, she apologizes for her death being the catalyst for Alex’s adventure, warns him of what to come and gives Alex an undeserved hug. So, what is this thing that she’s warned Alex about?

Alex and the gang walks through the door and they find Proto-Alex sitting on a throne… right next to a version of Essentia. As it turns out, Essentia is actually connected to the soul of Alex in some way and that she actually has nothing to do with Vella and Sammy. She’s manipulated Alex the whole time in hopes that he’ll kill Proto-Alex so that she’s the only one in charge of the soul.

Like, thank god Essentia’s not almost all the women in the game, that’s just weird. But this reveal really sucks for multiple reasons. Her being a manipulator that’s lied about her eternal abuse at the hands of Alex is reeeeeeally bad, considering how culture views abuse victims as liars and sometimes even paints them as the real abusers (cough the ProJared incident cough). Like, I’d be more forgiving if Essentia was the girl selves of Alex since he’d probably do something like that, but it’s actually kinda unclear what’s going on?

From a narrative standpoint, the twist that Essentia’s actually evil and unrelated to Sammy and Vella pokes a whole bunch of plot holes in the story. The connecting thread between all the Dark Alex appearances is that they’re all for Sammy, Vella and Essentia, so I assumed that it’s alternate Alexes being weird possessive stalkers for his “soul mate.” But Essentia has nothing to do with the other two, so the other Alexes are just arbitrarily following them around. Why was Essentia in Vella’s Mind Dungeon? Pfft, fuck if I know, dude. The Soul Survivors that guarded the van that held Essentia could be inferred to be alternate Alexes, but also…

…Why did Soul Survivors take Sammy in the first place if she’s unrelated to the conflict between Essentia and Alex??? Like, Essentia even says that she was merely taking advantage of her disappearance, so Sammy’s got nothing to do with anything. In fact, what the fuck happened to Sammy since she’s a ghost now??? Hello????? What happened to the original mystery of the game??????

Anyway, the Alex and Essentia combine together to become the Twisted Being and you fight them along with horse statues that’s guarding suspicious switches. Aside from destroying the statues, the boss is another scripted one where everyone dies.

And that’s when the most self-indulgent shit happens.

Alex now finds himself in a land above the clouds and meets… Roy, from Ackk Studio’s previous game, Two Brothers. In fact, the setting itself is a Two Brothers‘ reference, where death just sends you to a colorful land in the clouds and you can return to the world of the living by jumping down, which is how this sequence ends. The game is full of references to Two Brothers, like the statue in Frankton, but this is so egregious that I was actually upset.

Roy gives Alex a pep-talk that also simultaneously acts on a reflection of Two Brothers, which is final confirmation that Ackk Studios lives in an echo chamber. Roy says that “some people have worked really hard to prevent me from finishing my quest.” Yeah, that’s the developers themselves. Ackk Studios was doing a remake of Two Brothers called Chromophore, but it ended up getting abandoned as development shifted to YIIK.

I will also issue a public apology, though. In my video I said that the developers abandoned the Kickstarter for the remake, when the Kickstarter was for the original game and Chromophore was promised later. Additionally, while Chromophore did get sidelined in favor of YIIK (which is still kinda lousy for the backers), tweets in March by the Ackk Studios account point to development being taken back up. This whole section of the game is incredibly dumb, but I got the facts wrong here and need to acknowledge that.

Alex returns to the world of the living where Proto-Alex is just laughing. And so you start fighting them again, presumably thinking that the real final boss battle starts now.

It doesn’t. This fight is also scripted. The boss will literally never die. It’s here that I realized, besides that optional flasher boss I fought in “I’m Sick of YIIK,” there’s only three actual boss fights in the game; everyone else is scripted and invincible. One of them is the nonsense golden alpaca and another is the mall goth boss that’s just inexplicably there, so the fight against Yuzu is the only genuine boss with narrative purpose.

So, what do you do to defeat them? Well, instead of doing something about it and maintaining the themes of the game, Alex defers his responsibilities to your Alex and you’re the one that figures things out. You can literally walk Alex over to the switches that severs Proto-Alex and Essentia but he doesn’t recognize that he can pull it; only your avatar is smart enough to figure it out. So even at the very end, Alex is still a fucking idiot.

Alex and Dio both pull the switches after the villains beg them not to. They say that this action will kill one of the Alexes. But honestly, if I was in that situation, I would rather die than live in a world where Alex is real and alive, so it seems like a fair deal. This very act does… something. The game kinda lost its shit a while ago because it’s post-modern. Alex thanks you and tells you to look out for him, presumably dying and it’s just. Whatever man.

Roll credits. No “true final boss,” you’ve spent Chapter 5 training for scripted boss fights that you can’t win. There’s too much ambiguity in what’s going on and Essentia’s sudden face-heel turn took a wrecking ball to the plot. This is actually one of the most unsatisfying endings I’ve seen in a video game, and seeing that the “reward” you get for starting new game plus is the chance to redo the Mind Dungeon all over again made me yell.

But the ending wasn’t always like that.

A fellow on YouTube, Combat Lobster, made a video compiling all the cut content in YIIK. The most signifcant piece of cut content shown off is a cut ending that’s radically different from the garbage we just got. If you’re watching here directly, skip straight to 25:23.

In this ending, there is no Twisted Being, where Essentia’s suddenly a different brand of evil. Essentia remains a good person, where her goal of killing Proto-Alex isn’t a selfish power bid, but, well, Proto-Alex is a monster. The entire Alex soul line isn’t entirely abusive or cowardly either, as there are a few dead Alexes that attempted to help Essentia take down their proto self – which I think better establishes a conflict of fighting the worst aspects of yourself than the finished game does.

Alex, Your Alex and their crew (who aren’t weird isekai people) join with the Essentia to fight Proto-Alex and… it’s an actual boss fight? An actual climactic fight? Oh worm? I have to say though, I kinda prefer the game’s final version of Proto-Alex over the cut one because I feel that a skeevy half-naked guy is more thematically appropriate than some hulking knight fellow. Maybe it could have been both and the armor comes off and this knight guy is actually some fucking loser inside.

Proto-Alex is slain. Alex redeems himself in the eyes of another person instead of crytyping about it to the audience and resolves to go to a reality where he doesn’t exist so that he can do good things, allowing him to actually be the good person he now claims to be. It’s not perfect, but he genuinely comes off as a better person, at least in comparison to the finished game.

Most importantly, Essentia actually is a parallel self of Sammy and Vella in this version, keeping the plot intact. While the abuse apologism stuff might still be there, this ending is at least an attempt to absolve Alex of that by allowing him to fight the worst of himself.

Overall? The original ending is genuinely better. There’s still a bit of things I dislike, like Essentia saying that she hurt Alex as much as she hurt her, but the fact that good Alexes exist make it less bad. I know that the ending was changed due to upsets in the developers’ personal lives… but also, the original ending is actually uplifting, so I don’t quite understand why they changed it into something more cynical, especially without changing any of the plot elements leading up to this point. I actually don’t understand why they did this.

But hold on folks! We’re not done yet! The game has one more hidden ending. No, it’s not the secret ARG ending that the developers have hyped up even though dataminers say it’s a load of garbage.

Instead of going to New York at the end of Chapter 5, you can hit up the computer to read an e-mail written by one of the Allansons that’s all like, “my sweet boy, here’s an ending that ignores post-modernism and also don’t trust that woman that we’ve written, bye.”

You can then find an outline drawing of Sammy hidden behind the tree in your front lawn and it unlocks the back door of the kitchen, which will take you to a distorted world map. From here, the only place you can actually enter is the building for the Korean News Network, where Sammy worked.

Everything in this area is drowned in weird mystical pink hues. I’ve never been to this area before the ending, but I heard on YIIK Pics that the place is already like this and isn’t a result of reality collapsing. Gotta love that mystical orientalism.

While the atmosphere carries iffy connotations, the inside is pretty mundane. Alex is no longer Alex, but is called by whatever name you put in… but also your model isn’t swapped out if you chose to identify as a girl, which is. Hm. Anyway, Dio is out here as a news intern and has to do a whole bunch of errands.

This ending route, instead of being sadboy adventures in space, is you doing mundane office jobs through simple fetch quests. Well, they would be simple if the event flags worked properly. The recording here is actually my second attempt at this ending, because the boss got stuck yelling about his coffee order even though I already had his coffee. So yeah, better get him his light coffee with milk and sugar on the first try.

Eventually, the quest chain ends with you being able to go up to the next floor. You see a few NPCs that talk about what could have been. Interestingly, that goth boss shows up stating that they would have been more important, so it can be assumed that their random appearance was the devs not wanting the model to go to waste; it also might explain why this is the only enemy in the game that’s capable of attacking you directly without a minigame at times, because that seems to be how it was in earlier versions of the game.

Anyway, you find yourself in a pink hued version of the room where Alex met Sammy. It’s here that she contacts you on the phone, telling you that she has nothing to do with Essentia and rants about how she’s evil, turning her into the sole villain of this ending while Proto Alex is ignored. Cool, game. Anyway, she then invites you to leave the game’s reality and be with her, giving you the “save the girl” ending that the game initially appeared to be setting up. Except it isn’t Alex, it’s your Alex, so it feels kinda uncomfortable.

To me, the ending feels like an insult to players that hate the normal ending. “Oh, want your ‘save the girl’ ending? Want your prize girl? Well, better get to work doing menial jobs, idiot.” Meanwhile, it has an unfinished feel, from event flags not working properly to Sammy not having voice acting. And like honestly? I would admire this ending if this was the case if it weren’t for the fact: A) the normal ending is garbage and B) the game doesn’t have a good track record regarding women to begin with.


So. That’s YIIK: A Postmodern RPG. I thought about doing one big review to sum up all my problems with the game when I was done with this playthrough, but the playthrough speaks for itself.

Alex is unlikable and his redemption arc is not as effective as the developers think it is: partly because some of his other traits bleed into the game in general, partly because it felt unearned and partly because other characters forgive him so easily that it feels like the developers wanted us to forgive him just as easily, too.

The story does not seem to care much about the other characters until the developers want to use them as mouthpieces to talk about issues. Vella is the exception, but she is also unceremoniously killed off along with the rest of the cast, so it doesn’t really matter. None of this matters.

I was already negative on the game’s endings when I played them, but after seeing the cut ending, I now flat-out despise the Chapter 6 ending. Imagine that meme of the guy on the bike sticking a bar into his wheels, but the guy is Andrew Allanson, the bar is destroying the perfectly alright ending and he’s yelling about how games aren’t art and for babies, actually.

In fact, combined with a video showing an in-progress battle system, where you don’t have to do a minigame for most attacks or defending, YIIK is perhaps the only game I’ve seen where its beta, in-progress version was better than the finished product. This game somehow regressed. Without the minigames (or at least for attacking and defending, skills might be fine) and if it had the original ending, YIIK would be a more passable game. It’d still have some problematic stuff and the game still finds ways to waste your time outside of battle, but it could probably be a lower-to-mid tier RPG.

But, as it stands, YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is the worst RPG I’ve ever played.

If you’ve been following along I’d like to thank you for following these posts and I hope you’ll stick around for normal posting. And while my YIIK journey is over, my friends still have to deal with it. If you haven’t already, I urge you to check out YIIK Pics. It’s a good podcast made by some good friends and it’s a fun time if you’re more of a podcast kinda person. They’re going to record the episode for Chapter 4 this week, aka, the chapter that instilled a horrible sense of despair in me, so I’m looking forward to that.

One last thing is that my opinions on the characters have changed during the last few parts, so please, enjoy one final tier list:

FINAL CHARACTER TIER LIST (old one):

  • B Tier: Chondra
    – My opinion hasn’t changed – mainly because she doesn’t really do anything in the main story. It’s bad, but it’s also YIIK, so it’s arguably a good thing.
  • C Tier: Vella, Michael
    – My thoughts on Vella remain the same. Her Bass Drop is actually pretty good damage, actually, whenever the arc of her throws is actually consistent.
    – Michael dropped down a place because of the Proto-Michael stuff. I was genuinely so unimpressed by Proto-Michael that I’d honestly prefer it if Michael did nothing in the game.
  • C- Tier: Rory
    – Rory is literally the only character besides Alex to have a complete character arc. Sure, he exists just so the developers can badly talk about depression and his gameplay ideas don’t work in the context of YIIK, but considering how many other things go unfinished in the game, I respect it.
  • D Tier: Claudio, Essentia
    – Claudio suddenly outed himself as an incest freak an episode or two ago and I don’t like that.
    – The sudden swerve of Essentia into becoming a villain is actually that bad. If it was the Essentia in the original ending, I think I actually would have moved her up to B range.
  • FFF Tier: Alex
    – If this entire blog post hasn’t clued you in, I don’t buy into Alex’s redemption arc – or at least, this incarnation of him. What really cemented it was that his redemption arc was better in the original ending – so better that I would, at the very least, bump Alex up into C- range. But no. We get him being a sad boy in a universe where literally everything revolves around him and his story does not end in a satisfying way. But then again he also died. Gotta find the good in the bad, ya know?

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