I've played weird games and strange games and freaky games, and not all of them I understand. Games like LSD Dream Simulator or Yume Nikki are weird and awesome, and I understand them as an exercise of the odd parts of the brain that control spatial awareness and whatnot. Some games, though, don't fall under the normal categories of weird. A few days ago I downloaded the debug build of Yandere Simulator, and it may take a few cakes on the sliding scale of "holy shit what am I doing?" Before we really get into it, be sure to check out an interview we did with Yandere Simulator's developer by clicking here.
I don't speak Japanese nor am I too familiar with Japanese culture. As such I didn't know the word "Yandere" until playing this game. I know what "tsundere" means because it describes about half the characters in anime, so I deduced that it could be the opposite. It turns out this was not the case. Yandere apparently describes a character who is crazy about someone in a literal way, and will display severely messed up qualities to protect them, such as attacking other love interests.
Yandere Simulator is about a yandere girl who has to "eliminate the competition" for her chosen guy, a boy referred to as Senpai. Senpai means "upperclassman", though I wouldn't fault anyone who thought it meant "dude I want to get up on" based on how it's used in media. The game revolves around Yandere-chan trying to get senpai to notice her, forcefully if/when necessary. When I say "any means necessary" I of course mean stealing drugs to tranquilize and kidnap other girls, killing people outright with knives, disposing of bodies, and other craziness.
It really is a strange contrast. On one hand you have this regular, seemingly happy-go-lucky anime girl, and on the other you have a crazy knife-wielding psycho arranging corpses and whispering "senpai will have to love me now" under her breath. Do you know what? I like it. It combines a love of anime for a love of stealth, and who can say no to such an adorable maniac? I can't. She won't let me.
Besides that, Yandere Simulator (currently just a debug build, again) has some surprisingly complicated gameplay. I tried to tranquilize a girl but had to kill her with a knife because I was in too open of a spot. I can't kill the nurse for some reason and she doesn't seem to mind when I walk in covered in blood, so I think there might be something else there. You go to class every day and use points to upgrade certain things like run speed and reputation, but I doubt you can max it all out (it seems to take a few hundred days at least) so you need to pick your path and stick with it.
Reputation seems to be a big thing. If someone catches you with a knife or a syringe or a corpse, your reputation goes down. If you compliment someone your reputation goes up. That's pretty much all I've discovered on the mechanic so far. You can do things like write fake letters as well, which is dependent on your Language skill, but I haven't held out long enough to do that. You see when it comes to stealth murder games I have little patience. I prefer the direct approach whenever possible.
In this case the direct approach was getting a katana and killing everyone before school had even started. It wasn't too difficult, though from the animations I can infer that the girls can fight back and just weren't able to. A distinct lack of superhero-level martial arts masters broke the immersion that comes with anime stuff, and it made it easier than I expected. In an anime you can't just stab someone, you gotta travel to another universe and defeat a demigod before you spend the night at their house and there's shenanigans and you sit by the river thing with an overpass and then you can stab them. In Yandere Simulator you just do it. It's simple.
So after killing six other girls with a katana and dragging their corpses outside the school to display them, I went to tell Senpai the good news. No girl would ever come between me and him, and though he doesn't know Yandere-chan's name (the Princess What's-Her-Name of the new generation) they will be married forever and make many children and all will be awesome and no those aren't police sirens.
I found Senpai by a tree on the opposite side of the blonde statue woman, but I could not interact with him. The screen became pink, my heart meter went crazy, and I started walking like I had drank a few pots of coffee that morning. He didn't seem to notice that I was covered in the blood of my enemies, which seems to be a theme. I tried to kill him just to spice things up a bit but I drop my katana whenever I go near him. He's immortal, the invincible upperclassman.
After being shunned by this lord among men I walked around a bit to try and find something to do that wasn't going to class. Stole a syringe and some drugs, not that it did me any good, then I guess I dropped it somewhere. Explored the school and figured out that by walking along the railings you can fly. That was fun. Explored the gym and found little excitement there. Got sad when there was no roof to throw the corpses off of. Then I decided to start a new game and try to do it the way the developer intended: actually being stealthy.
For a debug build, earlier in development than any real demo, it's got a lot going on. I'm honestly pretty excited to see where it goes and if it can become much more than what it hints at now. Right now I get this Tomoko Kuroki vibe (from WataMote, a great anime), but it can be much more than just "crazy girl descends into madness." There already seems to be some aspect of social murder as well (such as bullying the enemy girls until they, uh, remove themselves from the dating pool). I want to see more of that side. I also want to be able to publish this without going up on a list somewhere, but let's not dive into fantasy.
Yandere Simulator is developed by someone who seems to only go by YandereDev. The main source of information is the development blog for the game, with the debug build download on the same blog here. Being a debug build it has a lot of placeholders and unfinished sections.
Got anything to say about Yandere Simulator, or anything else brought up? Be awesome and post it in the comments. I especially appreciate feedback, as well as your own experiences with Yandere Simulator.
Edit for Disclosure: One of the writers here at TechRaptor, Jarred Rutherford, has at one point assisted the developer of Yandere Simulator with various texturing and 3d modeling work. As I'm being told he created alternate uniform colors, a uniform overlay, and fixed a stray polygon on one of the hairstyles.