Kind of a bare bones indie resource management game, like EVE Online without spaceships, or if The Sims didn't care about the toilet so much. YNAB presents players with unique resource management challenges and a simple goal: Have more resources than everybody else. While there is no head-to-head competitive support in YNAB, the best competitive players are often showered with adoration much like the top players of competitive Starcraft in Korea. Not bad for an indie title.
But while YNAB captures the imagination with its easy-to-learn-hard-to-master concept and mechanics, it has some major flaws that can’t be ignored. In the interest of fairness, I think it’s important to list them all:
1) This game is the most egregious example of pay-to-win mechanics I have ever seen. *Significant* portions of the game are gated off for those who cannot pay. Not just DLC like new outfits for your character. We’re talking absolutely crucial content like the Education campaign or the Pay Your Rent So You Don’t Die Freezing In the Streets minigame.
2) Community members make significant content contributions – in fact they make the vast majority of all goods and services available in the game — but the monetization model for the YNAB game world fails to compensate them adequately, siphoning off most profits to support the owners of the means of production. A more equitable distribution of funds to community contributors like Valve’s Workshop system would be preferable.
3) While I found the protagonist to be generally likeable and intelligent, I found he often made inexplicably bad decisions like the infamous “Spend Your Whole Paycheck on the Steam Sale” scene. This kind of irrational self-abnegating behavior made me feel like I had no meaningful say in the story. And come on. It’s 2014. Do we really need another boring white guy headlining a title?
Overall, YNAB is a compelling indie title that makes a great deal out of very little, but the p2w mechanics and lack of next-gen graphics are a big drawback. Set aside a little money each month and pick it up during a sale.