Hands on with YIIK: A Postmodern RPG
I sat down recently with YIIK: A Postmodern RPG developer Ackk Studios for a preview of their upcoming RPG for the Nintendo Switch. We’ve talked to Ackk before in our Industry interviews feature, which you can read here. I got to play the first two hours or so, and I have some mostly very good thoughts with one minor lingering concern.
Are you ready to rock?
The thing that struck me first was the game’s soundtrack. It was a lively mix of rock and electronic music reminiscent of the Persona series and a modernized versions of some of my favorite RPGs from the SNES days. The variety of tracks was instantly endearing; by the end of the demo session I had heard nearly a dozen great songs. There are a number of different fight themes, and not just the standard of one theme for boss and one for random encounters. I remember at least three different battle themes, and they all rocked.
Form a Party Like It’s 1999
The demo opened with your standard RPG stuff; you put in your name and answer a few other questions that the game says will be important later. The questions didn’t seem to affect the first chapter much, but that’s only the first two hours or so of up to a 30-hour experience. You’re introduced to the protagonist, recent college grad Alex, on his first day home from school. On his way to the grocery store, a cat with Salvador Dali’s moustache for whiskers steals his grocery list and runs away to an abandoned, haunted factory. There Alex meets the cat’s owner, Sammy, who is fairly promptly kidnapped by other-dimensional beings from an elevator. It was a surreal couple of hours, and my description doesn’t really do it justice, but I was totally into it.
The visuals are kind of a mix of N64-era graphical assets and modern resolutions. I thought it was a really cool aesthetic overall, but I’m way into the whole retro design thing so your mileage may vary. It looked kind of like how I’d imagine a 3D Earthbound would have looked if Nintendo ever got around to that. It also kind of reminded me of recent entries in the Pokémon series. Story dialogue (fully voice-acted, by the way) was accompanied by visual novel-style character portraits. They reminded me a lot of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s (Scott Pilgrim vs The World) style. The animation was a little weird; the running animations didn’t really seem to interact with the ground much. It actually added a little bit to the atmosphere of the game, though, by implying that the characters weren’t quite in sync with the world around them.
Rhythm of the Beatdowns
The combat was pretty fun for the length of the demo. Each character has a unique attack action for every skill. To complete every attack or skill, there is a minigame that goes along with it. For instance, Alex’s weapon is a vinyl record. His regular attack is a turntable with two yellow areas and a red one. Hitting the attack button when the needle is in the yellow adds one extra hit to the attack, and hitting the button when the needle is in the red area sends the record around for one more spin, allowing you to extend the attack. It was a pretty cool mechanic, and each skill in the game has their own unique action like it. As new characters get recruited it was a blast to try out their abilities to see what kind of mechanics they used. It was really fun for the first few hours, and I can see it staying interesting for a whole game, but I can also see it getting a little old after thirty hours. I’m willing to wait and see for the game’s full release.
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG will be released in 2018 for the Nintendo Switch, PS4, Vita, and PC.