Saiko No Sutoka is a survival horror game developed by Habupain. The story is about a yandere girl named Saiko who apprehends and tries to murder you. The goal of the game is to escape the school alive and avoid the yandere girl. This game comes with multiple endings and fun surprises from Saiko’s AI.
For people unfamiliar with the term “yandere,” a yandere is a character who obsesses over their love interest to the point where they become violent. If you know about yandere, you might know about the controversial matter surrounding Yandere Simulator and other games that follow it. Nevertheless, Saiko No Sutoka gives the yandere trope an extra dose of venom and malice. And due to the nature of the game, it has already gained a large fan base. Even with it still being in Alpha development, the game is looking promising and is one of the more polished yandere horror games out there to date.
Story – A Yandere’s Dream Come True
Each mode forms a different plot and endings. In “Yandere Mode,” you play as another character outside the main protagonist. You spawn outside the school and look for your friend that Saiko calls “Senpai.” As you enter the building, she “helps” you find him and ends up tricking you along the way. “Yandere Mode” offers new players different ways to play the game and get a feel for the gameplay.
Depending on how you played “Yandere Mode,” “Normal Mode” continues in Senpai’s perspective. You wake up tied up by Saiko and hazy from the drugs she gave you. The mode starts with a prologue and shows a little more context behind what is happening. Within the prologue, there is a preview of Saiko’s phases that will be in future gameplay. “Normal Mode” is where the game really begins and where Saiko’s characteristics shine.
At the time of writing this, there isn’t enough story to make a concrete opinion. The story is only a rough idea of what is going on within Saiko No Sutoka. However, the game still needs many improvements. Before “Yandere Mode” begins, there should be a cut scene or note to make the story easier to follow. And given the lack of prologue in “Yandere Mode,” the cut scene in “Normal Mode” should be shorter. Although “Normal Mode” offers a great insight into Saiko’s phases and a follow-up to “Yandere mode,” it would be advantageous if composed in a shorter time frame.
Apart from the “Main” Story modes, “Hard Mode” is self-explanatory, “Yangire Mode” is pure nightmare fuel, and “Nightmare Mode” is currently disabled. Other difficulties will not be covered in this review, as they stray away from the main story.
Gameplay – Pathologically Extreme
There are several ways to win Saiko No Sutoka, and it is not limited to escaping the building. If you click on “Story” in the menu tab, there are hints for all endings. I wouldn’t recommend this if you want to play the game blindly and figure it out for yourself.
The primary way to escape is to search the building for the code on the keypad, which hides a key to unlock the building door. Simple right? Well, Saiko’s AI makes it almost impossible.
Trapped with my Stalker
Keys play a central role in the game, as they can unlock rooms with clues, help escape from Saiko, and used to get out of the school. Keys also allow you to lock rooms from the inside, so she can’t get to you. But if Saiko spots you with a key and comes close enough to you, she steals the key and runs off with it or toys with you before giving it back.
Apart from the key to getting out of school is the key to the power room. The power room key is the second most important key you will need throughout the game. That’s because the room has a breaker switch.
To activate the breaker switch, you must match the corresponding colors to turn on the power. After switching on the breaker, you will be able to identify code hints in rooms. However, Saiko combats this by continuously turning off the light throughout the game. She makes the game considerably harder and sabotages any effort to escape.
A Violent Obsession
Saiko has disturbed and unsettling behavior patterns. She has a “Yandere” and “Yangire” phase which can drastically change your experience. If Saiko is yandere, she “plays” with you rather than killing you in various interactions and encounters. If Saiko is yangire, she will try to stab you repeatedly at the sight of you. You can “control” her stages, but you must do it carefully and strategically to get it right.
And make things worse, you have a health meter on top of it. It’s vital to know that your health meter depletes every time you get hurt or every time you fall into traps. When the health meter is 0, it is an automatic game over. However, not all hope is lost, as you can heal in small quantities with the medicine bottles scattered in various rooms. There are also a pair of shoes to protect yourself from the traps.
All these qualities make the gameplay stellar and Saiko No Sutoka’s most powerful feature. Saiko’s AI is so clever that it’s terrifying. And the behaviors that I have listed here are merely the tip of the iceberg of the multitude of things she does. In addition, the environment supports her, as she uses keys and other objects to prevent the player from progressing. Saiko’s AI is one of my favorite aspects of Saiko No Sutoka and the most sophisticated I have seen in a horror game.
Graphics and Audio – A Psychotic Work of Art
Sounds are a driving factor in Saiko No Sutoka. You must listen for any sounds made by Saiko while you sneak around and try not to make any noise yourself. Her voice almost directs the tone of the game as she can sound cute to murderous in seconds. Saiko will make a series of noises such as giggling, whispers, and taunts. You can also hear how close she is by her steps or even music cues.
By default, neutral music will play in the background. It is a series of ringing notes with an erratic rhythm. The music gets manipulated when Saiko is around or actively chasing you. It’ll turn into garbled noise with a numbing hum or white noise. The music effectively builds up the atmosphere and plays at the right time to create tension.
Not only do sounds and music change for survival, but also small details. Many audible cues will play when there are important clues to watch out for or when events happen. There are many instances, such as the music changing depending on the difficulty you choose or sound cues going off constantly during gameplay, which keeps you on your toes.
Lovestruck on the Right Thing
Unfortunately, the graphics are the weakest aspect of Saiko No Sutoka. The characters and environment look like models from MMD or Unity Assets. But it doesn’t necessarily degrade the overall quality. The models seem to be set as placeholders until the game is fully developed and don’t distract from the game’s goal. The developers are clever to focus on the essential areas like gameplay and execution to compensate for the simpler graphics.
Despite the graphics, Saiko No Sutoka uses diverse character models for Saiko that successfully deliver her eeriness. It’s especially true with her separate models between difficulties. The various designs build on the idea that she is not what she seems to be. And in addition to her forms are Saiko’s movements. Saiko’s gestures can be irregular or uncomfortably robotic, almost as if she’s inhuman. The combination of the design and animation makes Saiko more threatening, even with her petite frame.
Saiko No Sutoka also uses bold colors to make areas seem darker than they are. A deep blue fills the space instead of black, and on top of blue are Saiko’s glowing red eyes. The colors make the surroundings and antagonist even creepier and more vivid. And the lights from the breaker switch don’t make it any better.
Saiko No Sutoka was reviewed on PC via Steam.