My backlog is quite large, as I assume it is for a lot of gamers. Because of this beautiful predicament, I try to focus on titles that close friends of mine recommend due to caring about what they have to tell and wanting to see if I will share their enthusiasm. Yuppie Psycho was not only highly praised by Casper, but he even gifted it to me for Christmas. Despite stellar reviews everywhere though, I always forgot that it existed and thus did not play it until now. Apologies for that, buddy!
The first day is always scary
Brian Pasternack is on his way to his new job at a ginormous corporation known as Sintracorp. Due to his smaller education, he fears that this could possibly be a scam or that a mistake might have happened, but acknowledges that he at least needs to see this through. After chatting with some of the employees there, he discovers quickly that his potential position is of an unusual kind; witch-hunting.
As soon as the intro, the story showcases its tone as a comedic horror and embraces it. Considering bloody writings on the wall to be of high art, witnessing other workers act basically like zombies, and even hiding from deformed file cabinets, there is always a clever idea presented that is entertaining. All of these scenarios are further enhanced by dialogues that help paint a picture of this strange building you are stuck in and your odd colleagues.
Speaking of, everyone is relatable and represents someone anyone has met at different vocations. Be it the arrogant idiot or the geeky goth, all have an amusingly exaggerated familiarity. I especially love how Brian becomes a strong protagonist who changes due to the gruesome hell he has to go through. Despite the lighter tone of it all, there are still uncomfortable events and sights here that cannot have been worth any paycheck.
It should also be noted that the horror elements are executed wonderfully as there is never a cheap jumpscare. Everything is subtly presented via quick motions to question what you saw or terrifying audio to make your hair rise, causing even an archive to become a thing of a nightmare. Adding to this gorgeous immersion is the implementation of mechanics, like how coffee can heal you or that you save by scanning your face, which I adore.
Regrettably, the plot and lore are downright bad. Neither evolves in any interesting manner and this corporate building lacks imaginative locations with a few exceptions. The creatures inhabiting them can be fascinating, but learning about the supernatural is rarely done through your discoveries, with the worst offender being the obligatory elaboration towards the end with some moronic parents involved. Yet I cannot deny that I had fun with this ride when creativity was at the forefront. It is a surreal journey that utilises rather mundane places for creating horrific imagery and hilarious moments.
Story Score: 8/10
Yuppie Psycho can be described as a survival horror with an emphasis on puzzles and exploration. Playing as Brian, you can merely run and interact with the environment, with your briefcase holding any item you picked up for examination or utilisation for progression. There is no real combat in this title, meaning you will have to use your noggin to endure encounters with enemies and be careful of your health bar’s status.
This is an approach that I do admire, since it could make for some clever scenarios and mechanics to consider. One actually revolves around the consumables for gaining HP back. You can certainly find minor supports like chocolate bars, but you will also be able to make better ones, such as using water and noodles together in a microwave. This is quite a smart idea and could indicate how you need to prepare your food in advance at the canteen before taking on a new task.
Furthermore, you can only save manually by using papers on copy machines that are scattered around. If that was not enough, some of these might lack ink which you also can find a limited amount of. Managing resources is one of the key features of a survival title, and even other tools like boxes for gaining height and pencils to defuse mines are only in a certain quantity, adding tension to when they should be used or reserved.
At least, they would have if you were not given a bunch of all these knickknacks. This game is incredibly forgiving with these items, to the point that I ended up playing completely carelessly since I could easily get away with it. However, this is also a fault of the foes you meet and the levels’ designs. While you cannot fight your way through, you can hide under tables or in closets to avoid monsters as they immediately forget about you when you do this and are generally effortless to exploit.
This makes any moment of stealth shallow, as there are no interesting mechanics to deal with or layouts that are grand enough to force you to read everyone’s movement to make a plan. Honestly, tanking is a better option at this point, except for when you need to run away in a narrow hallway. I will say that the first boss fight is solid due to how you have to use its own traps against it, but that is it.
What is a shame, is that these concepts could have worked if the challenge was better. Similarly can be said for the puzzles, as they are not hard to figure out at all and some answers are told directly to you, which is just awful. Even one required me to have interacted with a prior element before taking a crucial item, despite how I knew I needed it by its visual representation alone. While some focus on deciphering oddities, these brain teasers are regrettably not complicated enough to be engaging.
Luckily, exploring this tower is a great time due to how memorable each floor is and the rewards you get for your curiosity, with the elevator making travelling between them a breeze. It is to the point that I never missed having a map and got by fine enough with the referee to what each level held. This is made further enjoyable when you have to venture through dark rooms and use one of your sources of light.
Your main ones will be a flashlight that takes batteries and glowsticks that are weaker but can be placed on the ground. Unfortunately, despite making scavenging more enthralling, you will get more than you will ever need, making the fear of venturing in pitch black locations never real. You can even upgrade your torch by finding red components, which are neat yet worthless because of the merciful structure. Even inside one labyrinth; I could simply stand and wait for someone to tell me the password I required for progression.
Tragically, this is such an easy time that it makes every idea feel lacklustre and solely included for fulfilling a checklist for this genre. Stealth and resource management are here, with merely a few puzzles being acceptable and exploration being solid. Sadly, with the forgiving setup and not having to make any tough decisions, it is hard to not be on autopilot for most of the playthrough. Maybe this is something for those who are terrible at survival games, but that is not a glorious recommendation when the difficulty curve never increases from being a nonchalant stroll.
Gameplay Score: 3/10
Whenever a project uses visuals to mimic retro hardware, limitations should be at the forefront to indicate which generation one takes inspiration from. Yuppie Psycho does this poorly with blocky character models mixed with severely detailed cutscenes and portraits, making the style become shallow. This is a constant problem that is only mitigated by the tapes that are actually supposed to be of different quality by coming off as alien creations in contrast to the rest of this world.
Despite this being a continuous issue, I do love the concepts implemented in the art otherwise. Having a colonel talking to Brian on his high horse, paintings twitching as you walk by, or visiting a dark graveyard inside this tower offers some imaginative scenarios. While there are not many monsters to speak of outside of the ones already mentioned, all fit the theme of this office building and the cast is just as memorable.
Frankly, the latter comes from their portraits having tons of facial expressions and the cutscenes being gorgeous with fluent movements, which are not what you will mainly see on this journey. Thankfully, the atmosphere is enhanced by the gruesome sounds of subtle screams, footsteps approaching, and even something minor as electricity malfunctioning. None are used for forced scares either, due to how natural and foreboding they all occur.
Yet my favourite part of the audio is the composition by Micheal Garoad. His incredible take on various styles in the form of lounge, jazz, techno and more offers an urban tone that emphasises different moods and settings. Even better is how some of his calmer tunes slowly become more tense or terrifying by making the instruments distorted, with all containing fantastic rhythm and diverse notes, making sure all will stick with you after the game is turned off.
Presentation Score: 6/10
There are multiple endings to find with some being blatant to unlock, like refusing to work at this corporation. Despite that these can be amusing, it is rather the surreal secrets to find that are the main reasons for revisits. Tapes with bizarre videos, alters to lit, and even finding a dark room with feral creatures, are some of the entertaining discoveries to encounter. Sadly, some will have you play bland minigames such as one making you dodge specific workers slowly and the rewards do not enrich this world’s lore. However, the imaginative aspects of these findings are worth witnessing and merely looking for them is exciting on its own.
Extra Score: 7/10
It is hard to recommend Yuppie Psycho as anything but an experience. Admittedly an engaging one due to its humorous story and unnerving atmosphere, yet it falters as a video game. The visuals are inconsistent in quality, it is far too forgiving as a survival title, and the puzzles are at best occasionally adequate. Should this sound up your alley, there is some solid replay value, but this definitely has an acquired taste.