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Y2K: Paranormal elevator death, new RPG systems, no hipsters


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Y2K stars Alex, a young man with thick-rimmed glasses, a full beard and a flannel shirt over a nerdy retro tee and jeans. He fights enemies with vinyl records. Need more hipster cred? Developer AckkStudios describes the plot of Y2K as follows:

"When an erratically behaving elevator claims the life of a young woman, unemployed recent college graduate Alex Eggleston takes to a primitive 1990s message board to find answers about the death of this stranger. His quest for answers leads to more questions as his research points him to a mysterious van the internet has dubbed the 'Death Cab.'"

Yes, Death Cab. Y2K may seem like a hipster paradise, but AckkStudios co-founder Brian Allanson tells Joystiq that Alex isn't a hipster – he's just a guy who knows what he likes. The same goes for the entire, real-life development team.

"For the characters in the game: No, they don't view themselves as hipsters," Allanson says. "Alex is a little bit oblivious to the fact that he's so hip. He's just living his life with his interests. Personally, speaking for the team, we don't call ourselves hipsters. If someone called us that we'd accept that as a description because we are some young people making an indie game – and that's pretty hip, I guess. Although we're really nothing like the characters in Y2K."

Gallery: Y2K (12/3/14) | 19 Photos

With pesky labels out of the way, we can delve into the overwhelming amount of style in Y2K, even in its pre-alpha version. Gameplay takes place on a 3D plane often filled with the bright colors and neon grids of 90s technology as depicted in popular culture. The environment and actions are often trippy, starring giant pandas and rats, floating pyramids in space, deadly robots and a huge eyeball. Text conversations are presented in a JRPG style, with characters hand-drawn in elevated cartoonish detail. The game includes platforming, puzzles, an emotional score, fully fleshed-out characters and a strong narrative, AckkStudios promises.

"From a gameplay standpoint we're really trying to innovate in the RPG genre, trying to move it forward," Allanson says. "Like, when you kill an enemy in one of the game's main dungeons, it's dead forever. This makes the gameplay about hunting down enemies. We also give the player moves and abilities for other things besides leveling up. You can bring items from the game world into battle, such as bombs, ladders and giant pandas. Secondly, I think the visuals are pretty unique. We strive to have a game that is both visually striking on first glance, but also to evoke a sense of mystery based on the game's unorthodox settings in the dungeons. So there is this contrast between real-world settings and breaks within the game's reality that look more drugged out."

Y2K has a launch window of late 2015 to early 2016, for PS4, Wii U, Vita, PC, Mac and Linux, Allanson says. AckkStudios has released a quartet of new, pre-alpha videos showing off the battle, dialogue and travel systems – and all of that retro style. See the fresh videos below.

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