Think Earthbound. Except instead of Ness the young boy, we have Alex the college graduate. And instead of 16-bit cuteness, we have a colorful pop-art world that screams “zany” and “trippy”. YIIK touts itself as a post-modern RPG where we fight rats and smiles (yes, literal smiles) instead of dragons and monsters.
The YIIK demo I played started me off at the beginning of our hero’s adventure. Alex has just graduated from college and he’s taking a bus back to his hometown. Upon entering his house, he finds a grocery list from his mom, but before he can leave his house to hit up the supermarket, a strange voice speaks to him, telling him that “the needle has dropped” and “the record has started to play.” It’s all very mysterious.
YIIK prides itself on being weird; from the Tearaway-esque paper graphics to cats with moustaches stealing your mom’s letter, YIIK flings itself into the realm of weirdness and creates a player experience unlike anything we’ve ever seen before.
In-game battles don’t play out like typical turn-based RPGs, either. Each character has a special gimmick and minigame that you have to pass in order to successfully execute their attacks. Alex, for instance, wields a vinyl record that he throws at his enemies to inflict damage. To get him to attack, players have pass a little rhythm game where you hit a button right as the record needle swings around a particular area on the record. The more areas you hit, the higher your attack combo. It’s kinda like the Judgment Ring system from Shadow Hearts on the PS2. It’s a pretty sick way of unleashing attacks, and I was tremendously pleased by it.
As if it wasn’t weird enough, the demo takes a turn for the weirder when Alex somehow finds himself in a strange realm where he has to poke a giant eyeball to make it cry so its tear can power up some turbines to generate electricity for an elevator. The demo ends with Alex picking up a bomb off a conveyor belt and using it to help a young girl get rid of her annoying roommate, a level 99 robot. By “get rid”, I really just mean “kill”. In case that wasn’t clear.
At the end of it all, I honestly couldn’t be quite sure about what exactly I had just played. I mean, the demo ends with the girl crying blood for no apparent reason at all before she’s whisked away by beings that I assume to be alien and supernatural. What I can say is that YIIK is unique, and in spite of the 1001 things in this demo that made almost no sense at all, it was intriguing and it made me hungry for more.
I don’t know if this is the spiritual successor to Earthbound I’ve been waiting for, but it definitely comes pretty damn close.
YIIK is set to be released for the PS4, Vita, Wii U, PC, Linux, and Mac at the end of this year.