YIIK: A Postmodern RPG (Switch, PS4, Vita, PC)

The late 90’s was a pretty memorable time for me.  I had just graduated college and was at the peak of my game writing for The Dallas Morning News.  So playing YIIK: A Postmodern RPG really hit home for me.  It’s an RPG set in the late 90’s, and the main character even just finished graduating college, too!  Heck, even the title feels like the 90’s, as ‘postmodernism’ was a big buzz word when I was in college.  This game always caught my eye at trade shows I’ve been to in the past, mainly because of its bright and color N64/PSOne era graphics, and the return to classic style RPG battles.  So I’m glad I got to review it on the Switch!

In the game you play as Alex.  He just finished graduating college and is now living back at home with his mom.  On a run to the grocery store, he stumbles upon an abandoned factory.  When he explores it, he meets a mysterious girl and gets sent to another dimension and…well, the game gets pretty weird after that, so I won’t spoil it for you.  The game does a good job with the settings.  Instead of fantasy themed towns and dungeons, you’ll explore places like suburbs (there’s still an overworld, though).  You use payphones to save your game, and instead of potions, your healing items are things like cheeseburgers, salads, and sodas.  So it’s kind of a mix between Earthbound and Undertale.

Battles are pretty typical turn-based RPG fare.  You’ll encounter silly enemies like smiley faces and cartoony rats, as well as foreboding interdimensional spirits.  So yeah, like Earthbound.  But there are some action sequences in battles as well.  Your main character uses records to attack, and you must press the button at the right time as a record spins on a turntable to do combo damage.  Another player uses a digital camera and you must press the right buttons as a roll of film goes by.  You even play mini-games to dodge and defend, and must do a small 2-D platforming segment to run away from enemies.  In this way, the game kind of reminds me of Costume Quest as well.  You can also use some of your battle skills outside of fights to solve puzzles in dungeons and whatnot.

Most of the problems I had with the game are just personal preferences, so the game really isn’t that bad at all.  It focuses more on story than battles, which I would rather it be the other way around.  Also, the battles are pretty long and drawn out, and don’t move as fast as I’d like.  I also wish they would’ve streamlined how you level up.  To gain levels, you must enter the “Mind Dungeon” via a payphone and explore floors and open doors to increase your stats, and spend your experience points to move to levels below.  It just felt like busy work to me and kept me from really sinking my teeth into the game further.

Really the best part of the game is the late 90’s setting, which they nailed just right.  You can even go on the internet and visit outdated web sites and view choppy videos that take forever to download, but you can only do it on computers that are connected via phone wires to the Web!  The below screenshot really impressed me, as it pretty much sums up the kinds of games I liked back then, too!  If the developers make another one like this, I hope they make it set in the 80’s!

Kid Factor:

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is rated M for Mature with ESRB descriptors of Violence and Strong Language.  While they do use curse words in the text, I didn’t feel like they overused them unnecessarily.  When you battle enemies, it doesn’t actually show you hitting them, and defeated characters either disappear or fall over.  All the other violence and mature themes are just implied in the text only, as they do mention things like porn sites and such.  Honestly I’d be OK with more mature, older teens playing this game, too, as long as they can handle some of the themes in the text.

2 Responses to “YIIK: A Postmodern RPG (Switch, PS4, Vita, PC)”

  1. This is the first I’ve heard of a game getting an M rating just for text references — that’s really surprising.

  2. Good review. I could not figure out what to say about it but you nailed it Cary.

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