Yesterday is a point and click adventure game developed and published by Pendulo Studios. It is a mystery thriller set in New York where the homeless have been disappearing before being found burnt alive.
The game starts with a young Henry White and his friend Cooper going into an abandoned subway station in order to look for homeless people to help out. As members of a charity called The Children of Don Quixote that helps the homeless; White and Cooper have come to offer help despite being told not to. White goes in solo where he finds two men who are part of a cult; Boris, the follower and Choke, the leader of the cult. Cooper then has to go save him before the cult does anything harmful to his friend.
A few years later Henry has taken over his parents business and has become a successful businessman and philanthropist. His friend John Yesterday (who you now play as for the remainder of the game), having just recovered from a suicide attempt has come to see him. You learn that John was investigating Satanism in Paris before he tried to kill himself but he suffers from amnesia and can’t remember a thing. The only keepsake he has is the Y symbol burnt into his hand.
The game has been streamlined a lot to take some of the more boring elements of adventure games out of the equation but as a side effect makes the game much shorter. When you travel between locations and objects you phase out from where you are and reappear at the object/location. It takes all the mundane travel time that usually comes with adventure games and it’s hard to place whether it’s a good or a bad thing.
Objects inside and outside of your inventory can either be used or looked at but nothing else; which is a staple of modern adventure games but using items in your inventory is a little awkward. You have to drag them out each time you want to use them and if you have the item bar minimised it only increases the frustration.
Hotspots are a must use sometimes when you’re stuck and need a bit of help looking for anything intractable. Unfortunately the hotspots only flashup for a brief time and they aren’t particularly clear so it’s easy to overlook some of them unless you search for hotspots a few times in quick succession. The hint system is very good and does increase in helpfulness if the initial clue doesn’t help. You won’t likely need to use hints often though as the puzzles are reasonably simple.
One other aspect of the streamlining is that there isn’t as much character interaction as expected. A lot of the dialogue can be completed in a single conversation and you will rarely need to return to a character except when you complete a puzzle. Luckily the puzzle orientated gameplay doesn’t detract from the dialogue. As you know that you don’t have to constantly go back and forth; you get most of the information in the initial conversation instead, which is much better in practise than on paper.
Audio has always been a strong point in Pendulo games and a wonderful voice cast brings the characters to life. The more serious tone is carried by the actors very well and the black humour comes through brilliantly with all the characters playing it straight. The soundtrack keeps it all together with some nice atmospheric music but the highlight has got to be the tune that gets whistled; it’s both chilling and catchy. Unfortunately there isn’t any narration for looking at objects or combining inventory items with other objects, instead everything is now done with captions in a comic book style.
Pendulo has been making use of the same art style for a while and Yesterday is no different aside from a heavier usage of shadows and a darker colour palate. The comic strip style does help to highlight certain moments much better than a whole scene would, with things like opening doors, using items and other small actions. Unfortunately the action sequences take a hit as they become a set of still images that get played out. This makes some of the more interesting moments less interesting.
The story has many twists and turns and it is engaging throughout. There is a bit of a lull in how interesting it gets towards the end and then it all finishes rather fast with an incredible climax. It is a lot darker than the previous Pendulo games but it still carries a sense of humour which some might not enjoy but the story itself is very good.
Presentation and Audio
Pendulo games have always had good voice acting and this is no exception but while the voices are great the mouth movement on characters. This is more than likely fit for another language but some syncing for English would have made it less distracting. The comic book style feels like it’s there to cut corners with the animation; especially during action sequences but it does help to emphasize certain actions.
The story as always is well thought out, engaging and has some mystery behind it but it feels shorter than it could have been. This may be in part due to the radical streamlining that the game has with teleporting and the focus on completing puzzles rather than being bogged down with talking to characters. While it is a little easy, short and contains some annoying streamlining; it has a very interesting story that keeps you guessing and throws a lot of twists at you.
I was surprised by the story on a number of occasions and I found it to be one of the more enjoyable stories I’ve seen so far this year. Some of the streamlining feels a little more like corner cutting; the action scenes being the most neglected of all the aspects. The rest of the streamlining is hard to side one way or the other with as they have both pros and cons. The teleporting saves a lot of wasted travel time that makes about 40% of most adventure games and the toned down dialogue sections help to reduce frustrations when you get stuck and don’t want to use hints. But both do make the game shorter. For me adventure games have always been about the story so I’m still more than happy with the game but I do yearn for more dialogue to get me more invested in the games world.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.