Monday, April 29, 2013

Yesterday Review


Paris cutscene in Yesterday

  • Developer: Pendulo Studios
  • Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
  • Release Date: 22 March 2012

I received this game as a gift as it was on my Steam wishlist at one stage. As some of you may know, I'm a big fan of point 'n' click adventure games (my Kickstarter backing history would be a testament to that) and the cel-shaded art style evident in the Yesterday's screenshots, intrigued me. I've never played any of the Runaway games (which Pendulo Studios is arguably more famous for) but I thought I'd love to give this game a shot if I had the time and someone generously donated it as a gift :). Thankfully, these two wishes aligned so here is my review.

Plot (3/5)
After a prologue, you eventually find yourself in the role of John Yesterday, a reporter who apparently attempted suicide through mercury poisoning which has caused him to lose his memory. John and his mother are experts on Satanic sects and rituals and shortly before John's attempted suicide, he was following a potential lead. Thanks to the help of a wealthy benefactor and friend, Henry White, he is able to get back on his feet and resume where he left off.

What I like about this game are the plot twists and there are quite a few of them – some obvious, some not so obvious. This is probably the plot's only strength however, since the game is quite short, being only about 3 hours long with just over 20 “rooms” to explore (IIRC). This short time-frame means when you're just becoming used to the setting and (potentially) the characters, the game has already finished meaning you don't really feel any attachment to the game. An adventure game released in the same year, Resonance did a much better job of this since it allowed you to play as different characters for a reasonable period of time.

Pauline the protagonist's love interest.


Gameplay (4/5)
The gameplay is similar to usual point 'n' click adventures and thankfully isn't a console port – so navigating the game using only the mouse is a welcome change!

There are quite a few modern innovations that the game brings to the table which are welcome. Firstly, there is the hints system which is great for adventure gaming newbies and for those who can't be bothered Googling for a walkthrough online. There is also a hotpoint highlighting system which means you no longer have to hover over the entire screen searching for objects to interact with or “secret” exits. Finally, the character teleports when going to a new room which means you don't need to watch a character plod across the screen. These are all easy to implement but are welcome features for an adventure game.

The only criticism I have with the interface is when merging/combining inventory items. It's kind of fiddly since you need to pull items out of the inventory first before placing them back into the inventory on the item you want to merge (instead of just scrolling left or right across the inventory).

What I also dislike is the save game system. The game limits you to four save games and your game is auto-saved when you quit the game. I don't believe it's possible to die or get stuck in the game so that usually means the ability to manually save is redundant, however if you want to experience all the game's multiple endings you have to remember to quit the game first before you get to the end – on the first playthrough of course, you don't know when that's going to be! :)

In terms of difficulty, I felt the game had a good balance and was just right for veteran adventure gamers thanks to generally logical puzzles.

Parisian antiques store


Sound (3/5)
No major complaints about the audio. Voice acting is okay. Was disappointed that in some conversations, the protagonist didn't talk even though he was voiced for other parts of the game. It was kind of jarring.

Music (3/5)
There is minimal use of music in this game and most of the time you will be hearing silence. When music is used it's okay.

Graphics (4/5)
I love the cel-shaded, comic book style to the graphics and would highly recommend any other adventure game developers to take a leaf out of Pendulo Studios's book in this regard. All the backgrounds tend to be high-definition too.

The only let-down for me was the shoddy lip-synching.

Replay (2/5)
As mentioned before, the game is terribly short. It took me three hours on my first play-through to complete the game. There are multiple endings to the game, but these can be all picked at the end (unless you were a dunce like me and didn't save the game beforehand). Since there aren't really any truly memorable scenes and the since you don't really feel attached to the characters, there isn't much incentive to go back and play the game.

Polish (5/5)
Didn't encounter any bugs or annoying features that are not already mentioned in other sections.

Score – 7/10

A short point 'n' click adventure with lots of twists to keep you entertained. Unfortunately, the inability to connect with any of the characters and the lack of any truly memorable scenes means the short playthrough will be easily forgotten; just like the eponymous protagonist's memories.

If you want to get the game, you can get it off Steam.

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