I knew this job offer was too good to be true.
Developer: Baroque Decay
Publisher: Another Indie
Genre: Adventure Horror
Type: Single Player
Release date: April 25, 2019
We are all afraid of something, whether it be what you can run into everyday or something that is only possible in media: clowns, zombies, bugs, ghosts, being stalked or spied on, darkness, the unknown, and so on. Although, dread can set in with the seemingly simplest of things like speaking to new people, public speaking (even if it’s like a fraction of a class size), or going into your first job. Despite how much someone hypes themselves up to prepare, it always creeps back.
In Yuppie Psycho, you play as Brian Pasternack who just landed his first job at Sintracorp, which so happens to be one of the largest companies out there. Though, Brian didn’t actually apply there. One day he just received a red envelope saying that he’s being offered a job. So he bought a suit, jumped on a train to the big city, and was on his way. Sure, the thought of this being a prank crossed his mind multiple times, but what if it wasn’t? He would effectively be missing out on the opportunity of raising his Class-G status to a Class-A.
As you arrive at Sintracorp, it turns out that this is the first day for two others. You meet the stuck up Mr. Chapman and the wonderful Kate who gives Brian a little more info on Sintracorp, and for us a bit on how their society works. It turns out that Sintracorp is particularly hard to get accepted, having you study extensively for your position, pass six exams, and hope that your application gets accepted. If you do get in, the floor you work on determines how important you are to the company. Should you be unsatisfied with the floor you landed on or how the job turned out to be like, well Sintracorp doesn’t hide the fact that there are thousands of other people that could replace you.
Once it’s Brian’s turn to see where he’s stationed at, little does he know that it isn’t just a normal office job. Signing a contract that he barely understands, Brian is hired as a Hunter. You see, Sintracorp is plagued with a witch that is poisoning the company from the inside. With the help of an AI named Sintra, Brian must find and kill the Witch and hopefully not die in the progress. To help hide his Hunter status, since the Witch also has allies, his official position is on floor five with his coworkers Hugo and Sosa, both of which are weird in their own way.
Almost right away, we’re faced with a slowly creeping dread that will build up as you progress through the story. It starts with learning about how everyone is regulated into classes through letters, with each following letter showing how you’re treated, your housing situation, your merit, and how expendable you are. Sintracorp is somewhere that a Class-G is usually not accepted. Then it builds with each body and bloody trail you come across. Every breath or door slam is a possible threat as the darkness hides what’s to come, and the music intertwines to make it more powerful. There are, of course, moments where it lightens up a bit, like talking to Sosa and Kate or going to a team meeting, but it’s still waiting for you. The weirdness of Sintracorp still seeps through to remind you what you have to look forward to.
The way Yuppie Psycho builds dread even lingers after closing the game. While I initially planned to do this game in one go, much like I did with The Count Lucanor, I found myself a little happy to have a break. It allowed me to slowly calm down before going back in (though this proved futile as it all comes rushing back and I was as anxious as ever). I still remember how the demo section impacted me for the first time and how one of the boss encounters managed to scare me even though I could hear it coming.
In addition to the creeping horror and enemy encounters that can and will kill you if you don’t hide, you will also face puzzles. Never fear though, as these puzzles are simple and logical. You just have to pay attention to what your clue is, the environment, and what the other characters are saying. I will say that there is one particular section that is pretty vague on how you pass. There is a teaching moment on floor three that I learned about after the fact, but it could easily be viewed as an enemy if interacted at the wrong moment. At least for me, I thought it was just an enemy that had no interest in following you, but will attack if too close (like the workers who will attack when you get too close to their desk).
The saving mechanic in Yuppie Psycho is similar to what Baroque Decay did in their previous game, The Count Lucanor. To save, you need to have Witch Paper, which has a special watermark, and photocopy your soul. As long as you have Witch Paper, you can save at any photocopier you come across. Though, you have to make sure they’re loaded with ink. Otherwise, you’ll have to bring your own (which you can find by searching around). Apart from one checkpoint, it’s all up to you to remember and decide to save when you see fit.
Making sure you have enough Witch Paper and ink isn’t the only resource you have to manage. As you search each filing cabinet, trash can, bookcase, and desk, you’ll come across various food items that will replenish your health. Though this time around, you can combine food items on the first floor canteen to make it more effective. For example, you can brew some coffee or make a grilled cheese sandwich. Later on, you’ll also find pencils that will help you avoid some nasty injuries and batteries that will keep your flashlight powered.
These resources are limited, but I wouldn’t let this steer you away. The amount of resources you’ll find leans more towards those who tend to use a lot rather than just enough for even those who are more stingy with items. This doesn’t mean that you can just run into danger all the time, there is a limit on how much leeway Yuppie Psycho will give players, but if you drink more coffee than you anticipated or forgot to turn off the flashlight, you’ll be fine. Trust me, I learned this the hard way in The Count Lucanor when I found out that I ended up with a lot of coins that could have saved me a couple of heartaches when I died on my way to the save fountain. Even if you’re running too low for your comfort, you’ll no doubt find some money that you can use to buy more resources.
You can also find VHS tapes containing weird short films that your coworkers Sosa and Mappy made and Doshi, the IT guy, will upgrade your flashlight if you manage to find electronic parts with a matte-red back.
Despite tackling the mundane horror of starting your first job, Yuppie Psycho ran with it. Crafting a world that both makes you sit back in your seat due to the creeping dread and lighten the mood with its dark humor without either being out of place. It certainly helps that the music and sound design is on point with how they wanted each area to feel.
Despite its small flaws and a saving system that might not mesh well with most, I highly recommend picking up Yuppie Psycho and playing with headphones on. It really speaks about how effective a horror game is when even a toilet, yes a toilet, manages to freak you out.