Man-eating printers, a French cavalryman giving motivational speeches in the board room, and having to prove your skills at Snake in order to earn a promotion; these are but a small selection of the bizarre things that happen in the indie horror game Yuppie Psycho. Don’t let its strange title fool you: this is an amazing game and easily a new favorite of mine within the horror genre.
Brian Pasternack is an everyday young man from out of town who has just received a life-changing, though suspect letter. He’s been spontaneously invited to take on a job at Sintracorp, a world-class company in the big city. The letter specified nothing about an assignment or how the company even found him, but he still decided to travel to the city to find out if this unbelievable opportunity was real.
From the moment you set foot inside Sintracorp, it’s evident that the place is not what it seems to be from the outside. The lobby is rundown and trashy, the door to the stairs blocked off, and new employees are summoned into an elevator that just drops them off at a random floor where they’ll be forced to work. The higher the floor, the more prestigious the function. When it’s finally Brian’s turn, the elevator shoots all the way to the 10th floor; a lavish, though abandoned office. There he finds his contract and a message written in blood:
KILL THE WITCH
Yuppie Psycho‘s setting is a captivating one. Sintracorp is a mysterious and uncanny place where the mundanities of everyday office work clash with psychological horror. People are stepping over the mutilated corpses of their colleagues just to get some photocopies made, monsters and the occult dominate the company, and everybody just passively accepts it and gets on with their day.
Brian is but the most recent in a long string of witch hunters, many of which met their demise without ever making substantial progress. Sintracorp is possessed and every employee knows it, but few dare to speak of it. Too afraid to invoke Her name and tempt retaliation. Any woman could be the witch, anybody else could be one of her devoted. It’s an interesting conundrum for a game set in a modern time: a witch hunt not in the countryside of medieval Europe, but the halls of a 21st century office complex.
It’s a fun dig at corporate culture too, which the game uses both for genuinely effective horror and comedy. As a result, the story had me engrossed in a way that no game has managed for years. I was constantly invested and curious where Brian’s journey would take him. I could laugh at oddities like a frog-masked superhero who lays traps for you, but also felt genuinely tense as I stealthily snuck around monsters or had to navigate the game’s more atmospheric environments. That’s not even mentioning the boss-fights, which were so unsettling that I was in a complete state of panic all throughout them.
This story is also supported by the game’s stellar visuals. Though at first glance looking like any other pixely indie title—probably made in RPG Maker—Yuppie Psycho quickly proves itself to be much more refined. There is a remarkable amount of animation and attention to detail in the game, which makes each scenario and relevant character feel special. To top it off, the game features cutscenes that, while stiff at times, really up the ante and proudly proclaim the game’s desire to be taken seriously as a story-driven experience.
The story was so good, in fact, that it allowed me to get over some major gameplay hurdles both objective and more personal. I have always struggled with games that are mainly puzzle-based, but then also have Amnesia-style monsters you can only run away and hide from. Yuppie Psycho forced me out of my comfort zone there, but the puzzles are fun and the nasty creatures that interrupt them are forgiving enough to not be a deal-breaker. You have enough health for a few bad run-ins with them, can always stuff down some food in a pinch, and hiding places are very generous.
A lot of the puzzles are logic-based and interesting brain-teasers, or depend on you exploring around and paying attention to clues. Exploration is always encouraged anyway, as each of Sintracorp’s 10 floors has its own quirks and culture that are fun to see in action and learn more about. Exploration also leads you to consumable items like food for healing, tools to open shortcuts and disable hazards, or witch paper that you need in order to save.
Yes, that was another tough one for me to accept. Like in Resident Evil, your ability to save the game is limited by a finite resource. Here too Yuppie Psycho proves itself to be a clever game, because it sounds much more strenuous than it really is. Knowing that save files are limited puts you in the right mindset for the game. The prospect of not being able to save makes you value your items and use them conservatively, it makes you want to take every opportunity to look around for more stuff and build up your stockpile for a rainy day.
Barring one instance where I was too careful and lost 2 hours of progress after skipping some chances to save, I never had an issue with these systems and actually ended up with more food and witch papers than I could use. If you’re like me and your one attempt at making it through Resident Evil ended in a small room with no ammo, health, or items, then don’t let that deter you from trying Yuppie Psycho.
While the mixture of endearing characters, strong comedy, and genuinely horrific intrigue kept me hooked throughout the main game, I did endure some trouble as the game’s ending loomed. There are a few last-minute things that can be easily missed and the criteria by which you are locked into endings can be strange. In particular, the game very clearly shows you where to retrieve a plot-vital item, but if you actually get it right away, you are locked into the ending for the Executive Edition.
First, defeat the office 3 boss to receive a camera, then return to the monitoring station for floor 5 to spy on cam 1. You’ll notice that the second camera is broken, but Hugo will be seen messing with an office plant. Head to floor 5 and interact with the plant to retrieve a bloody key, which can be used on the door to office F. Explore this area and, at the end, inspect the mysterious poster and symbol hidden behind it. Use the replacement camera from floor 3 on the broken camera in the north-west corner, then return to floor 3 to witness Hugo casting a spell on the poster. If you now return to office F to cast the spell yourself, you are locked in the second story path.
This second story path provides an interesting conclusion to the game’s backstory, focusing on the family drama of the man and woman who started Sintracorp many years before. It’s interesting, but far removed from the story threads the rest of the game has been all about thus far. The original endings are much more focused on these and provide a more generally satisfying conclusion, so instead I recommend the following:
Instead of the above, use Corvo’s card on your computer to enter a very different version of Sintranet than you’re used to. Find and collide with the monstrous-looking version of Sintra to receive your unique code, which you then use on the elevator to reach a secret floor. Here you can retrieve a key that lets you access the cemetery on the 8th floor, which leads to the game’s original endings.
Fortunately, the game makes automatic backups of your saves and I was so captivated by the plot that I happily went back to get the other ending. Even then, there were some last-minute choices that could lead to even more endings and which I will definitely get back to someday when I will inevitably replay the game.
Yuppie Psycho is a new, classic indie title as far as I am concerned. There are oddities and frustrations to its design, even entire mechanics that take some getting used to, but I was so intrigued with the game’s story and stellar presentation that I stuck around anyway. It’s a special game and one I encourage you to seek out if you’re up for a story-driven horror game unlike any other.