YIIK (read that as “Y-2-K”) has a tendency to grab attention. It’s a really unique looking game, and watching the art style unfold into gameplay will present old school RPG fans with flavors of EarthBound and Final Fantasy. It’s a fusion of old school mechanics, plaid, vinyl records, fantastic facial hair and raw cynicism.
You start your mission in this demo by chasing a thieving cat that looks like Salvador Dali. After you’re dropped into a town, you zip into a forrest and run through a wheat field backed by windmills (I loved this segment, by the way. It looked gorgeous.).
Then the weird stuff starts to happen. Right, like a Salvador Dali lookalike cat stealing a letter from your mom isn’t “the weird stuff.” You enter a building, find a panda that you can drop into thew world in order to press switches and enter an elevator. The elevator loses power, and you quickly find yourself solving a strange puzzle in front of a pyramid with an all-knowing eye at its zenith.
I told you the cat wasn’t that weird.
I didn’t beat the demo. I had the programmer at my side during play, and he was ready to help me through some of the puzzles in the RPG’s world. YIIK will regularly challenge you by setting up switch puzzles, dropping ladders that you need to raise up in places and placing a constant flow of enemies in your way.
Much like EarthBound, the early game in YIIK is tough. You’ll battle alone at first, and that means more than one enemy at a time can be taxing. If you remember the early bits of EarthBound, there’s a really high chance of death for Ness when he’s running solo. The same was apparent here with YIIK. That, or maybe I was just terrible.
I was able to recruit a second party member during my play. She was the owner of the Salvador Dali lookalike feline. The cat’s name? Dali. The girl said she had no idea who Salvador Dali was. I don’t know.
I suppose my only complaint comes from battle speed. I might be in the minority here, but I prefer line-battlers that let players hold a button to speed through animations and text lines. Don’t get me wrong, the YIIK battle animations are really neat, and they each pack and explosion of color and a few silly quips. I’d like it, though, if you could hold, say, X to speed them up only to see them slow right before the quick-time defense mechanic starts.
I imagine what I played of the game was very early on in the adventure. I had, probably, a dozen monster encounters. By six or seven, I wanted that speed up mechanic. Later areas with more monsters and longer battles? That could get frustrating.
YIIK is super promising. The humor, the look and the classic throwbacks were all really great. It feels like this is the type of game that will force players to take their time, explore each area, properly solve puzzles and enjoy the writing. The dialogue had me giggling several times during play. It’s smart. The whole game feels smart, in fact, and that’s why I’m looking forward to getting it in full.
YIIK is set to release in the fourth quarter of 2015 for the PC, Mac, Linux, Wii U, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita platforms. We’ll have more on the game as it comes.