PAX East 2014: Hands-on: Y2K

Friday, April 11th, 2014

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Y2K - Ackk Studios | oprainfall

I’m never quite sure how to approach the proper analysis of a follow up game when the task presents itself. Do I spend a zillion words nit-picking every detail in comparison to its predecessor, whether I realize I’m doing it or not?

In the case of Y2K from Ackk Studios…there’s no existential crisis here. The first blanket statement I can make is that (quite obviously, if you’ve seen the aesthetics alone) this game is not Two Brothers. As a matter of fact, the game’s about as far away from Two Brothers as you can get. I’m not going to beat you over the head with a list of obvious details or a compare/contrast chart. Instead, let’s move on:

Y2K - Ackk Studios | oprainfall Y2K - Ackk Studios | oprainfall
Y2K - Ackk Studios | oprainfall Y2K - Ackk Studios | oprainfall

I think I may begin describing Y2K by elaborating upon its visual strengths. The screenshots you’ve seen may do a decent job of showing you what to expect, but seeing the comic-like aesthetic come to life exploring the fully 3D world (both real and surreal) and in battle makes you realize what kind of artistry they’re attempting to show off. The more surreal environments shown off in the PAX East build, as well as the battle scenes, were vaguely reminiscent of something out of a Persona game. While you’re playing, you kind of think…Who in the world makes the battlefield a solid yellow background? Well, I guess they do. Why? …I guess just because they can. It all comes together in a way that’s a lot more interesting than you’d expect.

Y2K - Ackk Studios | oprainfall

The characters (Alex, Michael and Vella) are all…average folk. There are no exaggerated body features (unless you count Alex’s facial hair)–these pretty much look like people you know from somewhere, not necessarily “famous adventurers”. There’s something to be said about taking a somewhat modern story of an average man and…well…making it really, really weird. But before I get into the more narrative side of things, I did want to take a second to appreciate that this definitely feels like a “post-modern” RPG that happens to take place in…almost modern times.

The brief amount of story presented in the PAX East 2014 build had just enough to pique my interest. You get a bit of exposition into these quirky characters and their lifestyles–and then things take a turn for the weird. If you’re a fan of things going from normal to abstract at the drop of a dime, I think Y2K is right up your alley.

Y2K - Ackk Studios | oprainfall

When I say “quirky characters” though, I mean it. Alex uses his LP collection in battle…which is to say, he whacks enemies with vinyl records. Most of the time I used Michael in battle, I was mashing the X button to take as many pictures of foes as possible. And Vella’s weapon of choice is her…keytar. The script has everything from random “AAAHhhhhhhh” quotes in battle to a dash of self-deprecation where appropriate–like right at the start.

The music was varied as well. Have you listened to the demo soundtrack? It has everything from calming instrumentals, to the high-pitched whirs of battle, to a vocal (and live-sounding) track to accompany the final fight of the demo.

From start to finish, whether looking at things from a visual level, an audio one, a narrative one or something else entirely…Y2K is something you haven’t quite seen before. I’m very much looking forward to hearing more about this game as time goes on. For more information, follow Ackk Studios or check out their official site.