How many times have you been up late, browsing the 'net, only to find yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole of urban legends and complex conspiracies at 2 in the morning? Stories of mysterious videos, aliens encounters, and extremely slender men fill your imagination as night rolls into day. These digital horror stories are the backbone of Y2K, an RPG with a modern-day setting. A young woman has vanished from inside an elevator, there's a video circulating online of her acting erratically moments before her disappearance, and it's up to a team of hipster websleuths to find out what happened.
"The footage is simple," reads Y2K's official website. "A young woman in business attire gets on an elevator, she presses the button for the 18th floor. The elevator doors shut. She looks around, as if talking to someone. She then presses another button, and then another… until every floor has been selected. She starts laughing, and is lifted from the floor, violently slamming into the walls. The elevator comes to a stop, and the doors open. A bright light floods the camera, and she is pulled out of the elevator." This is a r/NoSleep thread made into an RPG.
My investigation began in the simple town of Windy City - population 15 - where the girl's parents supposedly lived. The locals were less than cooperative at first, but after knocking a little sense into them, they decided to open up. This wasn't as violent as it sounds, as the turn-based battles in Y2K are fought with record scratches and keytar riffs rather than swords and guns. Instead of casting a poison spell on enemies like "Adolescent Smoker" your photographer snaps a crappy portrait that makes the Smoker sick to her stomach.
Each attack and special ability has its own little microgame attached to it - similar to Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door or, to a lesser degree, Undertale. The better you do at the mini-QTE, the more effective your move becomes. Personally, I love this design across the board, as it adds some extra flair to the workaday process of tapping through random encounters. However, not all of Y2K's microgames play out as smoothly as they should.
Honestly, the problem is pacing. Attack animations play out super fast, and will jump suddenly from one to the next, leaving you little time to process what's happening. One moment there's an explosion, the next you're trying to comprehend another new microgame without understanding the effectiveness of your last attack. It ends up feeling very erratic - and not in the fun WarioWare sort of way.
Outside of combat, Y2K charms with its mix of reality and supernatural fantasy. It paints a picture of real life as seen through the wide eyes of teenage artists who, as they say, "come from the internet." They're just as quick to launch into a diatribe about metaphysics and the existence of the soul as they are to drop meme references. This duality bleeds into the art style, most notably at night. During the day things appear normal, but when the sun sets, an impossible dense and vibrant night sky fills up the screen, with some sort of celestial avatar cradling the moon in the distance. Of course, no one comments on this. Developer Ackk is hoping to get Y2K out of the door within the next two months. The game will be released for PS4, Vita, WiiU, and Steam.