This article was written by UT, you can find them over at @UltTrainer on Twitter. Screenshots that were not taken by them are derived from a recording of a livestream of the update.
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, everyone’s “favorite” game, recently got its v1.25 “combat and quality of life” update. It introduced updated combat systems, new game balance, and an expanded chapter 2.
In the combat update, Ackk Studios added in shorter combat “minigames” with 3 different conditions of success to all of the character’s standard attacks as the default option, while having a choice to use the old minigames as powered up PP using skills called beatdowns, though you can revert to the old combat system altogether. While these new segments are shorter and feel snappier than the old combat, they miss the point of having interactive RPG attacks in that they’re still flat out not engaging at all. It also unfortunately does not help in the later game that they scale absolutely horribly even with a perfect success in the occasional random encounter, making them not worth doing eventually and kinda defeats the purpose of a fast basic attack.
In addition to quick basic attacks, they have added an elemental battle system where characters deal and defend with certain elements, Alex and the Essentia 2000 has rock (the symbol is the horns hand sign and that’s what I’m interpreting it as), Michael has fire, Sammy and Vella have water, Rory have nature, Claudio has earth, and finally Chondra has a wild card that changes every turn. Thinking about it some more, some of the elemental alignment similarities have some plot foreshadowing which is more than I expected with mechanics having plot relevance. Every element can only have an advantage or disadvantage to each other (dealing clashing damage) and does neutral damage to the same element.
The general idea is to switch out party members that have elemental weaknesses with ones that have a better elemental match up which, in theory, should be a good way to constantly mix up your party. In the early game, you only get matched up against enemies that are weak or clashing to your elements. Unfortunately, the elemental system honestly doesn’t matter mid-to-late game when you do actually have people to switch around in the party, which doesn’t make sense at all?! During the mid-game, your party members could get two or maybe even one hit KO’d – which doesn’t even matter when you have Rory in your party soaking up all the hits for extremely low damage, even when he should be weak to the attacker’s element.
Even later in the game, you’ll realize that only Alex and Vella consistently do actual damage. The late game damage output from everyone else – even hitting weaknesses – do maybe 30 to 50 damage when clashing damage from Vella can do 200 to 300 damage and Alex can do 100 to 150 damage. From what I can probably guess, they only really tested the elemental system up to the end of chapter 2, since most of the actual story changes they added in this patch was in there. If Ackk really wants to make the elemental system work, they really need to overhaul individual character stats and/or their damage formulas so that it actually scales into decent values for some characters late game.
Alex’s previously broken Panda Barrier now lasts 2 turns per summon and Panda can only take a certain amount of damage in a battle before it can’t be re-summoned until the next battle. Panda’s HP also gets increased as you level, allowing him to take more hits. The Panda health change prevents you from infinitely refilling Alex’s PP and prevents your party from getting hit at all, like how it was in the original game. I’ve never used Panda Barrier until Panda’s HP is depleted, but it’s definitely an improvement from just completely sandbagging fights.
Michael gets a new buff skill with Glamour Shot. With Glamour Shot, party members can get increased attack for two turns and defense for a single turn with a good shot, decreased attack and increased defense with a flirty shot, and sick (aka poisoned) with bad shots. This skill kinda glitched with its sister ability, Mug Shot, where it shows the tooltip for Mug Shot during the minigame instead of having a unique one for this specific ability, which was incredibly confusing. Doing this minigame, it’s incredibly easy to switch faces and aim and frame to a point to where I’m completely checked out. The faces are static until you change them yourself either in this minigame or for Mug Shot and you can probably just repeat that minigame by just framing the picture since the sick condition really doesn’t do that much damage.
Ackk also made major changes to how Rory’s Pacifism works. Instead of Rory just defending one person from attacks, he gets increased defense and protects everyone that doesn’t dodge an attack and makes enemies take a tiny bit of non-lethal damage from crashing into him. While Rory is infinitely way more useful now, it really undermines all of the defensive minigames in this game. While Rory is in the party, I could just ignore all of them for Rory to take all the hits while doing slightly more damage to enemies. Even Rory’s defense up condition affects the damage that doesn’t happen to the intended target.
Boss and Story Changes
One of the advertised points of the big update is the change to the infamous Golden Alpaca scene. The changed Golden Alpaca fight creates new context where it attacks to bring Vella back to her original reality and kill Alex before he destroys his reality. The new Golden Alpaca fight will spawn entities and will absorb them in a few turns to fill a bar. When the bar is filled after two entities get absorbed, it will deal an attack that will put every party member to 1 HP (even when all party members are already at 1 HP) and will go through Rory’s Pacifism.
I’m honestly completely baffled with this change, but it’s probably for the best? When the game first released, it was in incredibly bad taste to have a joke boss after Rory told us about how he dissociated after his sister’s death. The new Golden Alpaca’s new look is completely ridiculous, but kinda more tonally consistent now. D.C. Douglas voices the Golden Alpaca which is uhhh, something, though I do like his voice work despite unfortunately being in this game.
One element that’s confusing is that after chapter 2, you meet up with already defeated Golden Alpacas in multiple dungeons saying stuff Alex should’ve said to his friends among other things. They kinda felt like points where you’d have to fight the Alpaca again with new boss mechanics or something and seems like they didn’t have time to add them. Then the devs added another layer of confusion with their update post, telling lore about the Golden Alpaca in a minor spoiler post and the game explains none of the out of place lore other than the party finding 30 silver in a chest after the fight to exchange for a VHS key item they need to leave the sewers? The Alpaca doesn’t even mention thieves at all. The Golden Alpaca is apparently fictional in universe, but the party fights them? None of the party recognized that the Golden Alpaca is a fictional IP? It just seems like it was tacked on, but I guess it’s better than a joke boss?
The game also adds a new boss at the beginning, Wilhelm. He actually acts as an okay tutorial to the new elemental system, but as discussed before, the system ends up being undermined by balancing problems.
While it didn’t change much mechanically, I’d like to mention the encounter I had with the Goth Entities. After the thunder attack that brings everyone to 1 HP, you can protect everyone with Rory’s Pacifism, but it seemed glitched since every attack dealt 1 damage to Rory even when the boss was 3 or 4 levels above my party? In addition, Rory did double digits in damage from the boss crashing into him, which definitely improved the fight from being a slog like in the original release, but it’s also incredibly broken that Rory and the party takes no damage from that fight after the initial hits.
The main takeaway from this patch is this game is still suffering incarnate with its combat, but a little bit less annoying. Combat is still at a snail’s pace, but you have an option to think less in the minigames with the basic attacks, though it will also make fighting longer. The elemental system is completely half baked as you play it and while the changes to Rory is welcome, the developer went too far in the other direction and he winds up breaking the game. Ackk Studios is unfortunately adding more story content that’s been teased with the Golden Alpaca changes, which really doesn’t look promising or even coherent at all. Definitely not looking forward to 1.5 whenever it comes out.
[…] 3/18/21: Everything written here applies to how YIIK was pre-1.25 update. If you want impressions on that, you can read correspondent UT’s takes here. […]
[…] story aside, the game still just sucks to play. According to UT, it’s at least a bit better, and hey maybe with the upcoming updates, they could improve the […]
[…] site, so before heading on, allow me to give shout-outs to Victoria, Leaf, Bez, Fang, Zach, Quail, UT and Andrew for contributing to the site and giving me days off. Thank […]
As someone who enjoys FF7 in abstract but thinks the nitty gritty of actually experiencing it can be pretty embarrassing at times, I love this inversion of Sepiroth. Excellent character design, good marriage of writing with voice acting, and one of the only times YiiK manages to reference and comment upon a classic RPG in a way that even vaguely approaches subtlety.
I also appreciate the chutzpah of taking one of the most-criticized, memed-on (and misunderstood) parts of your art and then leaning in so unnecessarily hard. Just doubling down on everything and making the golden alpaca a bishonen fuckboy? That’s fucking funny. I am so here for every new scrap of writing and story in the IV drip. The game was already pretty soaked in bitterness and disrespect towards gamers and internet culture, but with an ending that tried to soften things and be a little more hopeful. Then the game was received by the world. And now based on all the previews, it really seems like we’re in for a YiiK but with the bitterness cranked up from 11 to 404. Delicious.
Also yeah, the elemental connections as foreshadowing for the reveals at the end is a nice bit of ludonarrative harmony sorely needed after the LP Toss nerf.