Reviews - Updated on April 10, 2022

Not far from this article is a review of Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, the new project of the crazy Japanese Goichi Suda. So, YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is also a very geeky, unusual thing, in which there is a lot of surrealism, postmodernism and jokes about video games. And its authors, unlike the man under the nickname Suda51, managed to attract the stars of the indie scene to work on the project: Toby Fox, the author of the cult Undertale, Hiroki Kikuta, who worked on Secret of Mana, took part in the recording of the soundtrack , and Garoad, creator of VA-11 HALL-A, the premier waifu barmaid simulator of 2016. But, unfortunately, the similarities do not end there – in YIIK: A Postmodern RPG, as well as in Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes, there are also a lot of drawn-out, monotonous battles.

Alex in Wonderland

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is a game made by geeks for geeks. The action takes place in the 90s. The main character, Alex, looks like a bearded 30-year-old bespectacled man and, according to the plot, is an infantile college graduate – he lives with his mother, loves video games, music (especially jazz) and the Internet.

When he went to the grocery store for his mother, clutching a note with a list of what to buy, he met a strange cat with the face and antennae of Salvador Dali. He grabbed a note from him and ran away, and Alex, chasing him like Alice – a rabbit, ended up in Wonderland.

In an abandoned factory, where there are many pyramids with eyes, he begins to fight with huge emoticons, communicates with some strange naked woman who looks like a succubus, and meets an equally strange but charming girl Sammy, the owner of that very cat named Dali (who would doubt it!). And right in front of Alex’s eyes, this girl is kidnapped by some giants similar to aliens…

Inexplicable but the fact

And off we go. A video of Sammy’s kidnapping pops up on a site where fans gather to talk about conspiracy theories, UFOs and other mysticism. Immediately, a bunch of witnesses who saw a strange girl appear, various theories and versions of what happened are put forward – just like in the famous case of the mysterious murder of the “elevator girl” Elisa Lam, which occurred in 2013. The authors do not hide that the plot refers to that situation. Alex gathers friends, including those from the Internet, and goes in search of Sammy.YIIK: A Postmodern RPG game review

Such levels are in the order of things.

The further into the local forest, the more insanity, mysticism and surrection in the plot, and the finale, as the authors promised, turned out to be really one of the most unusual and epic ones that we have seen in games.

In the YIIK: A Postmodern RPG script, everything revolves around the concept of the human soul, the division into the physical and non-material worlds, and similar near-philosophical rhetoric. Among the participants in the story are aliens, some comrades in blue robes who create an artificial girl to simulate life, huge Essences that look like Cyclopes, which are the projection of the soul of a living person. One of Alex’s partners is a girl who creates holes in reality and periodically goes into “space” to “know the universe.” And among the enemies there are three-headed golden unicorns.

Guess the Parody

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is, as the authors themselves say, “a Japanese RPG made by Americans.” With all the consequences – the developers were clearly inspired not only by the tragic and mysterious story of Eliza Lam, but also by such projects as EarthBound and Persona. That is why they deliberately twisted the degree of madness and surah in the script, without which Japanese RPGs are like Russian quests without a mat.

In general, the ironic EarthBound in the US has long been considered a cult. She became a source of inspiration for many developers, including the authors of the no less iconic Undertale. So the creators of YIIK joined this sect of followers, and the participation of Toby Fox in the recording of the soundtrack is the best confirmation of this.

YIIK: A Postmodern RPG game review

Even the birds are philosophizing here.

Music ring

We fight, run around the global map, bumping into monsters or bypassing them, leveling up, periodically solving puzzles, completing story and side quests, exploring locations in search of chests, buying weapons in shops and food in a pizzeria. Is everything standard?

Yes, except that we buy weapons in a music store originally from the 90s (they still sell CDs) or in a local photo shop. And all because in battles to the sounds of jazz, Alex throws vinyl records at enemies, his girlfriend plays keyboards, injuring enemies with sound, another party member beats opponents with a camera or quickly takes pictures of them. Another pale comrade on the Internet, being a pacifist, shouting “Save the Earth!” activates the “Protest” ability – if you’re lucky (no one has canceled the luck parameter!), then the enemies will be heard and receive a penalty to their characteristics.

During episodes with exploring levels and solving puzzles, you need to use no less funny abilities: for example, we put the talking panda (this, of course, Alex’s best friend) on pressure plates, and we literally throw the already familiar whiskered cat Dali into remote chests so that he opened, or into levers so that he would press them. If the path is blocked by green spaces, then they need to be cut off with a wave of Alex’s hair, and he destroys the stone barriers with the help of music speakers – he puts them side by side, and then sharply hits the electric guitar so that the speakers literally explode.

Laughter through philosophy

The “mental dungeon”, where you need to level up characters for experience points, is located in the head of the protagonist. And when this experience is not enough and we are directly required to reach a certain level in order to move on, Alex says with a sigh: “Well, it’s time to grind!” You will have to fight not only with golden unicorns and metaphysical entities, but also with drunks, embittered housewives and emo schoolgirls.YIIK: A Postmodern RPG game review

In such situations, in order to press the button in time, you can slow down time.

All this, of course, is accompanied by geeky jokes about Internet pornography, Backstreet Boys and video games – mentioning Doom, RollerCoaster Tycoon and listing favorite JRPGs (among them, of course, Secret of Mana). There is even a parody of Kickstarter – in the 90s, of course, it didn’t exist yet, but right there we have postmodernism after all!

And right in the slot machine hall, entering which Alex almost went crazy with delight, you can hear lengthy arguments that metaphysics is a part of philosophy that includes the principles of cosmology and ontology and deeply correlates with epistemology. Yes, as serious college graduates, our heroes not only joke, but also talk about life, about their future, philosophize and admit that the song Losing My Religion by REM is a hit of all times and peoples. Although chic jazz, a funny remix of Yesterday and chiptune music come from the 90s, they sound much more often here.

Minigames in maxi battles

It’s not the lurid picture and the difficulties of “tank” control that are really annoying in such a situation (especially when we are literally forced to run along the ceiling) – you can get used to this, and in general such things are even perceived as part of the image of this parody game.YIIK: A Postmodern RPG game review

Don’t even ask what’s going on here – just solve another puzzle.

But the battles in YIIK are really drawn out. All attacks, even ordinary ones (not to mention the use of skills), are played out as QTE: the faster and more correctly we press the indicated buttons, the more damage we will inflict – or we will not inflict at all. You also have to defend yourself, trying to reduce damage or completely avoid it.

At first, it pleases and refreshes the familiar turn-based gameplay of Japanese RPGs. Moreover, in addition to QTE, in some situations, the activation of skills turns into real mini-games from the same 90s. So, in order to use the ability to “Expel the enemy” and remove him from the battlefield for a while, you must first win the arcade. In another situation, we shoot opponents, as in old vertical shooters.

However, the more such fights become and the stronger the enemies, the less we smile. All attacks, blocks and animations for them are repeated from time to time, you can’t skip or speed up the same animations, the health of enemies grinds down very slowly – it turns out to be long and monotonous. However, you often experience such feelings in JRPGs – perhaps this is also part of an exaggerated parody of genre clichés?

This is how you can escape from the battle.

***

In any case, we got a fairly interesting and funny parody game. YIIK: A Postmodern RPG may not be comparable to the same Undertale in terms of humor (and the characters here are not so memorable), but at least it takes its toll in a good insane plot and general atmosphere that interferes with humor, parody, sur, metaphysics and reflections on life. In order to find out how it all ends, you can endure frankly drawn-out fights. The question is whether it is necessary to do this for those who do not know what a REM group is

Pros: well recreated atmosphere of the 90s; in a good way crazy plot with unexpected twists and colorful characters; many relevant jokes and parodies; gorgeous music.

Cons: monotonous and protracted battles; sometimes too clumsy and angular picture; there are problems with management at some levels.

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