Ever since Persona 5, I was confident that turn-based RPGs could be fast-paced. Before that, I still enjoyed them, but acknowledged they were kind of slow. To start the year off, Ackk Studios have put out YIIK: A Postmodern RPG. The name speaks for itself, really, but despite not having the ambition or polish of the bigger budget RPGs, YIIK puts in a solid effort to stand tall next to its contemporaries, while delivering a narrative experience like no other.
YIIK (pronounced why-two-kay) is best described as an indie, hipster fueled Earthbound style adventure. You play as Alex, a recent college graduate in the 1990s. He returns to his home town, and, bored with his life eventually witnesses a strange girl get whisked away by a strange otherworldly event. After seeing vision of the incident posted online, Alex obsesses over the missing girl and rallies some friends together to save her.The plot of YIIK is bizarre and you’ll often find yourself wondering what the hell is going on, but there’s still something endearing about it. The surrealism isn’t for everyone, however, and thankfully the goofy cast more than make up for it. They’re an eclectic bunch that fight with musical instruments and hula hoops and the like, but also have great chemistry amongst themselves. It’s both zany and cringeworthy to hear these people interact, but it’s still somehow great.
The game itself is structured like games like Final Fantasy or Earthbound. You’ll control Alex as he moves from town to town, chasing McGuffins and recruiting friends to his party to battle otherworld forces. Battles are turn-based, there’s a large overworld to explore and weird characters to engage with. YIIK looks and feels like a game from the late 90s but at the same time it’s been slightly tweaked to be a little bit more playable than older games.The battle system is my favourite thing about the game, which manages to feel very involving despite being turn-based. You can speed up battles to make grinding a little less of a grind. Every move has its own unique little mini-game attached to it too – some require perfectly timed button presses while others require you to complete a brief game of Pong. It sounds weird and annoying, but it’s not and keeps things interesting even during the grind (though you shouldn’t have to do too much of it).