Free to be Weird is a kind of spotlight/written let’s play of small, free, indie games. When most people think small, free, and indie they probably imagine some YouTube fodder making loud sharp noises and calling itself “horror”. We won’t be talking about those. Free to be Weird is going to be about unique ideas from voices that might otherwise get lost in the internet. I can’t guarantee they’ll be any good, but I can guarantee they’ll be interesting.
I am not a bad person.
I’m actually quite considerate and kind irl, I promise. I don’t even like being rude to people in videogames where I have dialog options. I’ve also never felt the need to justify myself for playing a videogame before Yandere Simulator came along.
You. Will. Notice. Me. Motherf#$%^r.
The best way to describe Yandere Simulator is that it’s like Hitman except you play as a psychopathic high school girl intent on slaying anyone that may come between her and her crush, her “Senpai”(FYI For those less anime inclined, Yandere is Japanese for “love struck” and generally implies a woman who is violently insanely in love with someone. The best equivalent in the west is probably Helga Pataki from Hey Arnold.). The methods for dispatching your potential rivals are as numerous as they are seriously messed up. You can straight up stab them to death with various sharp objects, although that leaves a lot of blood behind that you have to clean up later, and you have to dispose of the bodies. Trickier but safer and more rewarding options include poisoning somebody’s lunch, stealing tranquilizer from the nurse’s office, knocking them out to be kidnapped later, killing them pushing them off a rooftop and faking a suicide note or, if you want to get really nasty, cyberbullying and rumor spreading until they actually commit suicide.
Did I mention that you play a crazy person?
Perhaps what’s most icky about this game is the panty based economy. Info-Chan, the game’s equivalent to Otacon, provides you with info on all of the characters in the game and will give you certain perks, like raising your reputation or lowering a girl’s, providing blackmail fodder, etc. The price for these perks are panty shots, which you must take by sneaking around capturing upskirts with your camera phone like an even pervier Solid Snake. This alone creeped me out more than anything I’ve ever done in GTA or Saint’s Row. The worst part is that the perks don’t actually work in the game yet so it made me feel like an absolute goon for nothing.
Maybe the most messed up part of this game is that it kicks ass and I love it
Seriously, this is just an early debug build, not even alpha and it’s got an easy spot for my top ten games of the year. Yandere Chan’s high school where almost all of the game takes place is a brilliant sandbox of carnage and reminds me a lot of the Guantonimo Bay area in Ground Zeros; it’s small for a game but big for a demo, you can beat the main game quickly but the real game is in seeing all of the mayhem you can cause. The pacing of the stealth, violence and social interactions set against a school schedule works beautifully. The tension of pulling off the perfect crime and covering your tracks is exhilarating and satisfying, usually hilarious with the aforementioned methods of murder.
Well, somebody’s laughing.
The mixture of humor and horror is presented with a real expert touch too. The broad physical comedy in the animations and situations are pretty similar to most anime, but it’s delivered with a stone cold sinister deadpan reminiscent of a Coen brothers film. What keeps this from falling off the rails is solid writing and damn good voice acting. Yandere Chan’s voice actor steals the show (as she should) with her all too brief spoken lines. Her introductory monologue still gives me chills, and I hope she gets a lot of work from this. Another shout out should go to the journalist in the mysterious tapes. There are tapes hidden throughout the school (and one in the basement) revealing the troubled life and disappearance of Yandere’s father. It’s kind of heartbreaking and adds a good deal of depth to what at first seems like a one note joke character.
In short this game is brilliant. It could have been a funny little one shot and that would have been enough. It could have just been a light novel (it actually is) and that would have great. What we’ve gotten is a damn fine (if rather small) game with a unique premise and tone. Even in this unfinished state Yandere Simulator sets an already high bar higher for indie games these days. What we might be getting if this game is half as good as it promises to be is a stealth action game to rival any triple A franchise.