Wednesday, January 16

Review: YIIK - A Post-Modern RPG [Nintendo Switch eShop]


When it comes to more traditional turn-based RPGs while there are quite a few on the Switch as a whole in the indie space it hasn’t been as thoroughly represented as some of the other genres. While this has generally kept the relative quality of the ones that have come to the table stronger, it has also made the quirkiness of some of them harder to miss. YIIK definitely falls into that quirky category, possessing many of the elements of a classic turn-based combat JRPG but doing almost everything with such an unusual style and sense of humor that I would guess it will be met by genre fans with absolute love or hate.


The game’s main character, Alex, is a pretty major departure from a typical hero in the genre, a generally reluctant hipster of sorts, who has come back home from college. On the way out to the store with a list of things to get the store for his mom he encounters a very unusual-looking cat who takes the list and that starts him down a path full of full-stop WTF moments, unusual characters, and a blend of story beats that are both telegraphed and unexpected.


Aside from the unusual people he’ll meet and party up with for combat he’ll also acquire a small number of critical items that can be used as you walk around that help solve a variety of puzzles, like slinging a cat named Dali around to trigger switches and make progress. Honestly aside from the first hour of footage I’m sharing and confirming it continues down the bizarre and trippy path that establishes the groundwork for the more I’d try to explain the more questions you’d have. Suffice it to say that the sensibilities it has are unusual, whether that is a big plus or a major minus will no doubt vary from person to person.


In addition to the story and characters not necessarily being for everyone I’d say the game’s biggest weakness is just the time lost to loading screens and how those can disrupt the game’s flow in annoying ways at times with their regularity and duration. I normally don’t pay things like that much mind when they’re mostly benign but there were enough occasions where I began getting distracted reading something while I waited that it seemed noteworthy. On top of that while I enjoyed the oddity of the means of attacking and defending with various characters I suppose people who can’t get the knack of the mini-games that drive combat could get a bit frustrated. Thankfully I wouldn’t say the gap in damage between being very effective and just moderately effective is too substantial so I generally viewed these tasks as a means to keep me engaged so that worked for me.


As a whole while I found YIIK thoroughly different and quirky a fun way I can also see where those traits likely make it a love / hate proposition for people. If you’re really hoping for a more traditional experience you’ll likely be frustrated with the entire package, story, combat, and all. If, however, you have the indie spirit and appreciate experiments that may not always pan out but that are at least fresh this could really click for you as well. At least being able to somewhat relate to and understand the attitudes of some characters and the game’s approach I found it to be fun and I’d be fascinated to see what will come next from this developer having been provided feedback on this this title and running with that to try out something in a similar vein.

Score: 8

Pros:
  • Absolutely different on many levels
  • Oddball characters, story beats, and general sense of aesthetics and humor
  • Takes chances and does even some simple things differently, great for a change of pace

Cons:
  • The theming and style absolutely won’t appeal to everyone
  • Load times break things up a bit more than usual, taking you out of the flow at times
  • The combat could be aggravating to both people who don’t “get it” and those who do and realize they’re only able to do marginally better than those that don’t