What if I told you there’s a game out there that wants to connect with you. And I mean really connect with you. Not in a horror movie jumping out of the TV screen way, rather a deeply emotional and personal sort of way. A game that makes the player really feel things that some would say is impossible to feel during a video game. A game that stands as a new shining example as to why games are and should be considered true art. YIIK does more than most indie games let alone AAA titles, in the sense that it isn’t just trying to do something different, it IS something different, and beautiful at that.
There were moments in my roughly 20 hour playthrough, that I was brought to tears due to the events in the game’s story having such a real weight. YIIK at its core is an adventure RPG similar to the likes of Earthbound. YIIK leans heavily into the gameplay mechanics that usually reside in a turn-based battle system. Different characters in your party have different abilities and attacks that the player will need to use in ways that will be very challenging when approaching larger enemies, but can be downright tedious when fighting the smaller enemies in the overworld. Outside of the battling, the player is treated to some exploration through various areas and also in the overworld.
The overworld being one of the only negative things I have to say about this game. While exploring separated areas can be a treat with the game’s unique art style, the overworld is flat and uninteresting. This is hindered further by the all too frequent random encounters. While it offers a glimpse as to how the game world connects all the different areas, I found every trip to the overworld tedious and unnecessary. While some of this is alleviated further into the game by certain items, it still leaves me dreading every time I have to go back.
Thankfully though, when time is not spent in the overworld, it is enjoyed playing through dungeons, and experiencing one of the deepest and most unique story’s I’ve experienced in a very long time. The story takes place in 1999 right before the fabled events of YIIK. Back in the 90s, it was a popular train of thought that the world would suddenly come to an end once we reached into the 21st century. While the characters that we follow in the game aren’t necessarily believers of the horrific events of the end of the world, the looming presence of something greater taking place is always apparent to the viewer, but seemingly unapparent to our player’s character and the rag tag team of truly memorable characters and friends you meet along your journey. This changes at around chapter 3 of the story, yet to spoil it would be a crime against this excellent story crafting and presentation.
As daunting as it sounds, if you want the full affect of the game’s story, You will need to play it. It deals with issues of loss, social and political justice, mental illness, that only has its full weight if you experience it for yourself immersed for reasons that will come apparent in the late game. That’s not to say the game takes itself too seriously, it doesn’t shy away from being wacky and fun. While the story, characters, and world are impressive, YIIK can be technically problematic. There were several times where my progress was halted from me being stuck in a door sill, or caught in a piece of dialogue that wouldn’t move forward, leaving me randomly button mashing in hopes for the best. However, almost every single technical glitch was eventually resolved through restarting the game and resuming from the last save point. So save often, no one likes having to replay 2 hours worth of a game when you were left on a dramatic and emotional moment you now have to wait to return to.
When its all comes down to it, YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is a much needed game in our era. While it has its share of missteps, the truly abundant emotions and fun experienced throughout my playthrough are not to be unheard. This game will stick with you and is a true testament to games as an art form.