Who needs swords and axes when you have records and keyboards?
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is an appropriate title for the quirky JRPG. It features a kid with hook hands, combat mini-games, and a 1990s setting. It clearly goes for that postmodern style, but not in such a way that it tries too hard. The demo at PAX Prime showcases the game with a quirky personality that encourages the player to explore and learn more about its characters. YIIK seems like a weird game, and it is to a large degree, but other JRPGs like EarthBound remind us that sometimes weird is a good thing.
The demo opens up with a brief synopsis on the commonality of missing people and how that affects the protagonist Alex and his group of friends. They're on a quest to find a missing girl, and it leads them to a simple country town with strange secrets. The art style brings the environment to life, with its vibrant colors and attention to detail. It even features unusual touches here on there, such as a giant black figure that looms over the town at night.
"Unusual" also describes the inhabitants of the town, seemingly normal people who are quick to attack when the player talks to them. Many conversations transition into combat, and this is where YIIK makes strides within the JRPG genre. The tedium of random encounter after random encounter is eliminated in the game, and each battle is far more active due to the mini-games.
Each character has his/her own special skills with unique weapons: Alex uses records, Vella uses a keyboard, etc. All skills involve various mini-games, whether it's stopping the needle of a record player in designated spots or playing pong. It keeps the player engaged in each battle and also makes for some amusing visuals. In addition, players can slow down time to help complete mini-games, but it drains a time energy meter in the top right-hand corner. The only way to refill it is to take damage, so that adds a risk/reward mechanic to combat.
The demo didn't reveal too much about the narrative in YIIK, but it did a solid job of showcasing its characters. There's voice acting in the game, and it helps draw players into the world of YIIK. The game also features its fair share of humor, and I found myself smiling and chuckling quite a bit while playing it. The combination of personality and smart JRPG mechanics makes YIIK a notable indie game to keep an eye on.
YIIK: A Postmodern RPG is scheduled to come out in Q4 2015 for the PC, PlayStation 4, Vita, and Wii U.