Developer: Pendulo Studios / Publisher: Focus Home Interactive / Played on: PC / Price: $29.99 / ESRB: Not Rated [No Descriptors]
Can you tell me everything you did yesterday? And I do mean everything: did you eat two slices of pizza for dinner or three? Did you wear a blue shirt or a white shirt? Did you jump off a silo and crash through the window of a building?
Yesterday is a point-and-click adventure game that’s full of mystery, murder, and one man’s resolve to find out who he really is. It’s not too often you see this style of game nowadays, but Yesterday does give players a unique experience, even if it’s one that’s far too short.
You play as John Yesterday, a 30-something suffering from amnesia. Before you even have time to fully recover, you’re brought into the offices of Henry White, a young heir to a profitable charitable organization who has been kind enough to fund your recovery. Henry explains to you that before you fell ill you were working on researching an ancient satanic cult known as the Order of the Flesh.
Unfortunately, only you were working on this case, so all the information and research has been lost along with your memories. Though it is unclear why Henry wants you to reclaim your memories and continue researching the Order of the Flesh, you find it in your best interest to do what he says and try to uncover the truth behind your amnesia and the cult.
Yesterday does a great job at creating a mysterious mood. As you continue unraveling details concerning John’s past the story gets more and more intense, keeping your attention and making you want to play to see what happens. There are only a handful of NPCs to interact with, but they each have differing motives, attitudes, and personalities that enhance the story.
The only drawbacks here are that story progression is very linear. You can’t stray from the desired path the game wants you on. This lack of freedom is a missed opportunity for more lore, character background, and content in general.
Also the game is incredibly short, clocking in at around four hours to complete. With very little replay value (there are three different endings depending on your final choice), it can be hard to justify paying $29.99 for a game you can finish in one sitting.
Yesterday is a point-and-click game in vein of the Secret of Monkey Island series. After hearing a bit about the story, you’re placed in a room where you can click on stuff with the mouse to interact with it. Clicking on objects like paintings, mirrors, and telephones tells you a little something about what you’re looking at.
“The painting is of a werewolf”, or “the telephone isn’t in working condition” are samples of what you might hear. Certain objects can be picked up or used. These objects are necessary to find hidden clues and messages to advance the story.
For example, a letter opener can be picked up on a desk, but first needs to be sharpened to be of use. Once sharpened, you can use the letter opener to cut the back of a wall painting to find a piece of paper with a secret message inside.
Because of this, every room you are in becomes a big puzzle that you have to think through in order to overcome. Clicking on people lets you talk to them and more often than not gain clues about your past or information on what to do next. If you have ever played a point-and-click game in the past (or the recently remade Monkey Island games) then you know exactly what to expect from Yesterday.
A few additions have been added to the game that separates it from others in the genre. The first is a built-in hint system. After a few unsuccessful tries at finding out the next objective to complete, a light bulb icon fills up in the lower left of the screen. By clicking it you’ll receive a message that gives you direction on what to do next. This feature is extremely helpful when you’ve been stuck on one puzzle for several minutes (only to find the answer was embarrassingly obvious).
A replay feature allows you to go back to any previous point in the story and continue from there, so if you’ve forgot something about the story or just want to play a certain area again you can. A few times throughout the game you’ll be asked to answer a question correctly in order to advance.
Strangely though, if you pick the wrong answer you’re not punished at all and simply get to guess again. This takes away from any tension there might have been in the scene and just means you can pick answers willy-nilly without any repercussions.
Yesterday isn’t a complicated game to play, but then again these games never are. The joy of playing it comes from experiencing the story and figuring out the puzzles on your own.
The first thing that drew me to Yesterday was its visuals. A cel-shaded style of graphics gives the game a comic-book like appearance. Many cut scenes come complete with white boxes and thick black lines around them, adding to the comic book feeling. Characters display emotion through well-animated facial movements, showcasing their concern, pain, and overall demeanor.
The voices don’t match up with the mouths though, so expect a lot of oddly dubbed scenes. The locations you visit range from a deserted subway station to a luxurious hotel suite, and they all feature great use of color and shadows. Many of the game’s cut scenes focus on one or two characters and strip away the background in favor of an all black backdrop.
These scenes are done very well, and focus your attention on the characters and their actions, creating drama and suspense, which I liked quite a lot.
Yesterday is an indie game that tells an interesting story of cults, mystery, and treachery. The point-and-click gameplay harkens back to games of decades past but is still fun in 2012. The game’s visuals stand out and grab your attention quickly, and combined with the appealing story make for an enjoyable experience.
Linear gameplay and an incredibly short length means the game can be completed in a matter of hours, which is a problem considering the high price point.
For those of you willing to pay the price of admission Yesterday is a fun nod to an earlier form of gaming with a story you won’t soon forget.