Developer: Pendulo Studios
Publisher: Pendulo Studios
Available on: Windows PC Only
It seems that ‘big things come in small packages’ is a term that many developers are becoming accustomed to. With small download titles and quick blast games beginning to dominate the scene, it’s not a surprise that game studios are trying a variety of different things to appeal to the quick change.
One of these is Pendulo Studios, who rose to fame with their previous series; Runaway. Using a unique comic book style crossed with an interesting cell shaded feel, the company have fallen across an incredibly unique style which they bring to their games, including their latest hit; Yesterday.
STORY: Breaking away from the usual easy going nature of their previous games, Yesterday focuses on a very dark and obscure storyline, in which you follow the tale of John Yesterday, a man who attempted to kill himself in a Paris hotel after discovering a disturbing, satanic secret. Following John on his journey is the key to this game, slowly discovering a twisted storyline that threatens his very wellbeing.
Being the short game it is, Yesterday is packed with a plethora of twists and turns in such a short space of time that trying to delve into the storyline will ruin it within seconds. This very fact is what made everything so appealing to me, not once does the storyline leave you wanting more. The game is quick, and if you don’t keep your senses sharp, it’s easy to lose track of what’s going on.
GRAPHICS: Sticking true to the Point and Click genre, Yesterday comes backed with some gorgeous hand drawn backgrounds, consisting of a large variety of different scenes, including Asian inspired mountain drops to the busy streets of Paris, all packed with artistic flair and extravagant detail. The scenarios you’re presented with set moods perfectly, some show settings that seem perfectly normal, while leaving other more daunting areas with a sense of dread through dripping pipes and looming shadows.
Alongside the backdrops are Yesterday’s small cut scenes between previous levels which advance the storyline slightly, which utilise the unique graphical prowess of Pendulo Studio work to create creepy yet perpetually deep scenarios that develop character and plot. And while the style is fresh, the mouth movements of the characters are rather odd, moving very irregularly which, possibly unintentionally, adds to the daunting feel of the game.
SOUND: It’s not always the main focus of a point and click adventure, but Yesterday brings sound design to the forefront, using it to poke at your senses even more. The suspicious tones plinking in the background make you incredibly tense when poking around the screen for specific items to use. Mixed with incredibly convincing voice acting, all of which convey characters that are either lost, or definitely have ulterior motives, you’re left with a sound experience that does nothing but promote the experience of the game, which is a rare gem among titles these days.
GAMEPLAY: Staying traditional to the point and click genre, Yesterday focuses around surveying the backdrop you’ve been placed in, in an attempt to find clues and items that will allow you to progress through the level, or discover something about the story. You’re free to talk to people, inspect objects and look around as much as you want in an attempt to solve all the puzzles.
Where Yesterday differs from previous Point and Click titles I’ve played is that the use of your memory is incredibly important. For both storyline and puzzle solving, you’ll be presented with a large number of images, notes and clues that you’ll have to keep in mind for the rest of the game, as they come into action later down the line. This can be great, if you have a decent memory. However, if your memory is like a sieve, you may find having a pen and paper at hand to jot stuff down will help you quite a bit.
One of the game’s problems lies within its game play, and it’s far too big to ignore. Many of the puzzles you’re presented with will leave you scratching your head for a long time, and not for good reason. A lot of the time you’ll be forced to randomly click over the screen, or sit for 10 minutes placing one item over the other in hopes of finding a combination that works. One example is a very early puzzle, which requires you to cut out a piece of tin can to use on a padlock, yet the game gives you no clue about this.
Whilst there is a hints button which will flash up all the interactive points on the map, or tell you something that would help you, it’s not fun to rely on this tool as a necessity to progress through the game. If like myself, you find using hints dampens the experience, you’ll be left twiddling your thumbs for long periods of time, or just spamming your mouse over the map.
LONGEVITY: Yesterday is the definition of short but sweet. The storyline will keep you occupied for the amount of time the game lasts for perfectly, without losing your interest at any point, and could possibly stand to be slightly longer. The puzzles are one time solvers however, and as such you’ll not want to be playing this game through again. There are multiple endings which are achieved simply by choosing who you feel deserves a better ending at the close of the story, meaning any possibility of achieving a different ending by solving puzzles differently is abandoned.
VERDICT: This one is definitely for the fans of the series. Whilst the storyline is enough to hold the game up on its own, and is one of the most engaging, thought provoking plots in a game I’ve seen of recent times, many new people to the series will be immediately put off by the seemingly unexplainable puzzles, and I can see players giving up early, opting for games that are more instantly rewarding. If you’re thinking of giving Yesterday a chance, I seriously suggest you plough through, if only for the incredible plot the game has. The puzzles may become increasingly annoying, but the rewarding feeling and experience is worth it.