Yuppie Psycho is a survival horror game set in a dystopian 90s society. You play as the protagonist Brian Pasternack, a young man from the suburbs. In his world, Brian is a Class-G citizen belonging to the lower echelons of society. One day Brian received a letter of employment sent to his residential address from Sintracorp, the well-known megacorporation. Sintracorp is the most prestigious company one can work for and they are usually highly selective with their hires and typically only pick from the cream of the crop candidates. Although Brian believes its most likely a joke, the allure of working at Sintracorp proved too much to resist as it would be a life changer for him. The game starts off with Brian entering into Sintracorp on his first day of work. At the main lobby, he has his first experience with discrimination when another employee verbally abused him for being a lower-class citizen. Brian was surprised when the elevator took him all the way to the top floor reserved for management only to find it empty with his contract on the desk. The contract with Sintracorp will propel him into a Class-A citizen with a handsome remuneration package. The contract was signed as it was a deal too good to pass up.
The game features a satirical take on corporate culture and office humour. Brian also learns from another female employee in the lobby that each worker’s worth is determined by which floor they are being assigned to. The higher your position within the company, you will be placed to work on the higher floors. Floor 2 is almost completely dark and all the workers there are mindlessly scattering around frantically in the dark. Floor 4 called ‘The Hive’ features a slightly improved but still sub-optimal workspace with poorly illuminated workstations. There is also total silence and the only background noises are of employees busily typing on their computers. Floor 5 which is the middle level resembles the type of offices we are accustomed to. There are sinister forces at work when you realise that everyone looks as though they have their souls sucked away.
Early in the game, Brian will boot up his computer only to find himself physically transported into the company’s Intranet called ‘Sintranet’. Inside Sintranet there is Sintra, an AI who is shaped after the company’s robot mascot of the same name. Sintra will tell Brian that there is a malicious Witch residing inside the building. Brian’s official job is a Witch hunter and his role is to kill the Witch. Sintra is your main point of contact who will hand down your objectives to be fulfilled.
The developers got horror done right with Yuppie Psycho. The fact that the game is set in a corporate environment already stands out from other survival horror games. Surviving your first day of work is no simple task at Sintracorp as you will soon discover that there are all forms of dangers everywhere and some co-workers don’t have your best interests at heart. There are otherworldly abominations you will encounter inside the building from acid spitting ladies with lips as heads to zombies and a demonic printer. The sound design is wonderful as every musical cue matches the atmosphere and hints at whether you are safe or in danger. You will hear the muffled screams of a bounded office worker breathing directly into your ears or tortured souls moaning painfully. Playing with a headset is recommended.
Oddly, Yuppie Psycho features some very archaic game design. There is a limited amount of supplies per playthrough and proper inventory management is absolutely crucial. Even the amount of times you are able to save your games are limited. The saving feature in this game puts a novel spin to an otherwise normal feature in games nowadays. To save your progress, Brian will have to put his face onto the printer/photocopy machine and print out a scanned copy of his face onto a piece of Witch paper. The game dubs this saving process as ‘photocopying your soul’. Instead of ‘load game’ the term is coined as ‘load soul’ here. Often times whenever you find a new printer, there are two prerequisites before you can use it. You will first need to insert an ink cartridge for it to become functional and then you need to hold on to at least a piece of Witch paper. The number of times you are able to save is hence limited by whether you have enough ink carts and witch papers. These two items both have their own alternative uses in the game as well so you might not want to allocate all towards saving your progress. Anyone who has played the original Resident Evil games will be familiar as they are used to having limited ink ribbons.
Where this game differs from Resident Evil though is with its enemies and hazards. In Resident Evil when you see an aggressive zombie dog or a crow, common sense tells you that they are hostile. In Yuppie Psycho however, you can throw away conventional wisdom because it doesn’t apply in this game as there are so many unsuspecting hazards that will kill you if you are low on health. In one of my playthroughs, it was almost an hour and a half since I last saved. I was low on health and thought that everyone was busy on their desks working on their computers and I was safe from danger. I went from desk to desk, looting their desks, trash bins and cabinets for supplies. When I reached the fourth desk however, one of the workers started growling as I got close and suddenly lashed out roaring and attacking me, instantly killing me and wiping out the progress that I have made for the past hour and a half. Another example would be an employee wearing a cardboard box on top of his head with a smiley face drawn onto it. I chatted with him and he blew a heart at me. The next time I chatted with him, I lost health. As a result of these unconventional hazards, I often felt that my deaths were unfair as there were no warning signs that I was in a dangerous situation. Unfortunately, Boss battles were a missed opportunity in my opinion as most of them don’t give hints on what you are supposed to do. It typically takes a few retries to figure out what you are supposed to do.
Most of the game’s explorable areas are shrouded in darkness and you will a light source to navigate around. There are 3 light sources: a flashlight, an electronic lamp and glowsticks. The flashlight and lamp require batteries which are limited in supply. In hindsight, there are more than enough batteries found in the game. However, during my first playthrough I felt that I couldn’t explore at a more leisurely pace because I was afraid to run out of batteries. Glowsticks are permanently illuminated but they are poor as a light source and pretty useless as a result. Similarly, there is always the fear of running out of healing supplies as these are more limited in supply. There is a crafting system with food supplies. For example, a slice of bread and cheese can recover some of your health. However, if you were to use them as ingredients to cook a cheese toastie, it will offer greater healing properties. Most of the cooking appliances can be found in the canteen located at the first floor. There are visual indicators to show the health status of Brian. As you accumulate damage, there will be blood showing up on the corners of the screen. When Brian is critically wounded, he will lose the ability to sprint.
This game contains some of most bizarre scenes I have ever seen in a video game. For example: at one point in the game, you are tasked with finding all the Marketing team members who are scattered across that office floor and returning them to their designated work area. Now for whatever reason you find all of them are crawling on all fours like dogs (the dialogue scenes imply that they are practicing yoga). In order to get them to follow you, you have to tell them a motivational slogan. If you select the wrong option, they will go berserk and start biting you. Whereas if you drop them a motivational slogan that they like to hear, they will blow hearts at you and start following you.
There are optional collectibles in the game. The most notable being VHS tapes hidden throughout the building’s premises. Most of these tapes are properties of Videoclub Misterio, a mysterious club formed by two staff members: Mappy and Miss Sosa. Mappy is a girl with a large facial birthmark who is also the director of these films. Miss Sosa is a creepy character that looks like she belongs in a Junji Ito manga. If Brian decides to join the club, he will become the club’s third member. Most of these VHS Tapes’ contents look like something out of a snuff film or a B-horror movie (nothing explicit). There is a fun surprise to be found if you collected and view all tapes. The other collectibles are sketches of familiars and some mysterious tapes.
This game for the most part excels with its character building. Most of the characters introduced are unique and stand out from each another. The significant characters have properly fleshed out back stories and you will understand their motivations with some of their actions. However, there were two characters that were introduced at pivotal moments in the game, only to disappear and never to be seen again shortly after they were introduced. I thought this was a missed opportunity as I was expecting to learn more about them.
I am torn on the graphics of this game. On one hand, the anime inspired character portraits and cutscenes look stunning. On the other hand, the in-game character sprite looks quite plain and generic. All characters save for a few, look almost identical to one another. The only distinguishing feature of Brian is his bright blue suit. His sprite doesn’t even show him wearing his glasses. It’s possible that this might be a deliberate design decision by the developers to showcase the dehumanisation of office workers as they become mindless drones, indifferent from one another. There are a lot of graphic scenes with gore, decapitations and severed limbs so be sure you can stomach such scenes.
My overall thoughts on Yuppie Psycho is that it is an odd mix of brilliance and weirdness. Baroque Decay got it right with their decision to create a horror game set in an office building as it shows us that there are many unsuspecting hazards in an otherwise ‘normal’ environment. It is such a unique game that I would recommend checking it out even if you are only remotely interested in it as there isn’t any other game quite like it in the market. Unfortunately, archaic game design elements and too many trial and error situations prevent me from awarding it with a higher score.
Final Verdict: 7.7/10