Review – Yuppie Psycho
What do you get when you take the office culture of a toxic workplace environment and mix it in with the horrors of Silent Hill? You get Yuppie Psycho, a brilliant little top-down pixel art survival horror title from Another Indie and Baroque Decay. Possibly my favourite indie game of the year so far.
Set in a dystopian 1980’s where corporations run the world and the employees are viewed as disposable assets, Sintracorp is at the top of their field, but they also have a dark and mysterious past. You play as Brian Pasternack, who is on his way to his first job at Sintracorp. Unsure of why he has been offered a job or even what that job entails, he heads to the offices to get more details. His job, as it turns out, is to hunt a witch that has been haunting the offices for years. Set entirely in the ten story office building of Sintracorp, Brian must uncover the secrets of each floor and face the horrors inside.
The story is weird, creepy, and actually brilliant with plenty of twists and surprises along the way. For the most part, it is well written and I was invested throughout. The witches’ identity is kept a mystery for much of the story, but the game constantly reminds you that it could be anyone and that you should trust no one. It’s a simple but effective story with a satisfying conclusion (at least in my ending). I just wish it touched on the themes of the corporate side a bit more. A character known as “The Colonel” talks down to the employees and makes them feel worthless, and is just what the game needed more of.
Yuppie Psycho is a weird game, a very weird game, but that only serves to enhance the experience in the most bizarre and interesting ways. Everyone seems to have muted reactions to horrible smells and dead bodies that are all over the offices. Why is there a villainous looking guy hopping around whilst wearing a frog suit? Why has a filing cabinet mutated and is trying to kill me? Why is there a tongue coming out of a wall? I’m not entirely sure and that’s the point. It lends to the atmosphere and keeps reminding you of the idea that the business and the people in it are far from normal, even though everyone else is reacting like it is commonplace.
Visually, Yuppie won’t be for everyone with its 16-bit visuals that aren’t exactly marvelous, but they do the job of portraying a horrifying office space well enough. It has some solid lighting and a unique atmosphere. Where the art design does the game wonders is in the monsters that you encounter. I was amazed at how great the witch looked even though you get very few chances to have a look at her. There’s also a number of beautifully rendered cut-scenes that crop-up at key moments in the story. I just wish there were a few more of them.
Sound design is wonderful and does a great job of building the atmosphere. Instead of relying on voiced dialogue, the game uses the occasional sound cues to cause jump scares or emphasize the tone of the written dialogue. The soundtrack also does a really good job of ramping up with enemies nearby and providing a good ambiance during the quieter moments.
Split across the ten floors, there are a number of unique areas. Each have their own creepy atmosphere, co-workers, and a host of hazards to navigate through. I was always excited to go through a new floor and discover its secrets and stories. The game doesn’t really hold your hand and you are expected to pay attention to the dialogue and objects within the world. That said, it doesn’t just let you wander aimlessly, giving you just enough direction to not feel lost. Going back into your office and interacting with the computer will bring you into a virtual space where you can interact with an AI called Sintra. She will give you pointers and tips to give you enough information to get back on track. Very few times did I feel lost and whenever I was lost, I didn’t mind and eventually found my way. Plus talking to some of your co-workers opens up side stories to complete.
Enemy encounters come occasionally and they are a mixed bag, sometimes offering interesting scenarios, but often just being dull and uninspired despite some really good enemy designs. The earliest example of this is a spider boss, in which you have to push carts to trigger mines at the right moment to damage the boss. Whilst good in theory, the execution was lacking and just became an exercise in running around. Stealth bosses and the smaller enemy types work fine and provide some good tense fun, and the final boss was at least interesting. It’s the puzzles where Yuppie Psycho gets to shine with some great designs that force you to explore and pay attention to objects in the environment.
Resource management is a major component of Yuppie Psycho. Whilst dealing with threats you gain a variety of healing items through the use of making your own coffee, cheese sandwiches, etc. Saving is also a valuable resource in a great callback to the horror of old where saving was also something you’d have to mange. In the end Yuppie gives you more than enough resources to get through the eight hour campaign, but not so much that you will always feel comfortable.
Yuppie Psycho really surprised me with an engaging story and great gameplay mechanics. The experience does occasionally stumble, especially with some of the enemy encounters, but these are very brief sections and not exactly bad in any sense of the word. This is highly recommended for horror fans and people looking for something just a bit different.
The game’s visual style certainly won’t be for everyone, but I actually really liked it.
Whilst enemy encounters aren’t brilliant, the rest of the game is well designed.
Great sound design that expertly builds tension.
Fun Factor: 9.0
Yuppie Psycho is weird and thoroughly enjoyable. Highly recommended for any horror fan.
Final Verdict: 8.5
Yuppie Psycho is available now on PC.
Reviewed on PC.
A copy of Yuppie Psycho was provided by the publisher.