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Yesterday

Score: 75%
ESRB: Not Rated
Publisher: Focus Home Interactive
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Yesterday, like Pendulo Studios' previous titles, is an artful blend of animated 3D characters and painted backdrops, but unlike those older titles like the Runaway trilogy and The Next BIG Thing, this is a dark story, both in mood and humor.

While Yesterday is a darker title, it is still a visually appealing game. Not only are the various environments gloomier and drearier, but it dares to go into locations that other Pendulo titles haven't ventured, not to mention deal with themes that the others wouldn't touch with a 10-foot pole. As a result, Pendulo proves that it doesn't have to go for the bright and sunny style it has been praised for in order to tell a story.

Yesterday's audio is on par with its visuals. The game's ambiance, made up of both the sound effects and the background music, does just as much to set the tone as the graphics, and for the most part, the voice acting feels right. While there were a couple of times when the dialogue felt a little phoned in, it was never for any of the major characters, so those moments were few and far between.


Gameplay:

Yesterday takes you through a dark underworld where the homeless have started disappearing, and when they are found, they appear to have been burned alive. In a seemingly unrelated event, but just as strange, Y-shaped marks are appearing on the hands of other people. No one really sees a connection between these events, and to make matters worse, the media seems to be playing down both circumstances as well. After all, it's just a strange mark, and who really cares about some dead homeless people.

Enter Henry White. He is a rich and powerful man that puts in a lot of time to help the beggars of the world. Henry sees the deaths that happen in the alleyways and realizes that no one is really looking for the killer. Henry joins forces with his long-time friend, Cooper, to find out just what is going on in New York City.

Meanwhile, another character, John Yesterday, wakes up to find he doesn't remember anything about his life. What he knows is little, only he is a leading expert in Satanism and Henry has hired him to investigate not only the death of the beggars, but also a religious sect that Henry believes is connected to the killings.

As you play Yesterday, you will be able to switch between these three characters and learn more about them as you hunt down what is causing the little-acknowledged deaths. Each character's story unfolds in front of you as various events will cause them to have flashbacks and reveal to you just what kind of person you are playing as.

If there is one thing I can say about Yesterday, it's that it is filled with tons of twists and turns that will leave you seriously questioning the characters you are playing. Yesterday simply provides a wild ride with revelations that would rival the TV series Lost... even if some of them are rather far-fetched and out of left field.


Difficulty:

Unfortunately, I didn't find many of Yesterday's puzzles to be all that satisfying. While there is a good selection of them in the game, they typically fell into one of two categories. They were either very easy to work out, or their solutions simply feel appropriate. To make matters worse, there were quite a few times when the puzzles didn't fit well with the story itself or were badly placed and ended up jerking me out of the story.

While the game's presentation is solid and the story it is telling is compelling, this one crucial aspect of the game is noticeably lacking.


Game Mechanics:

Yesterday's more interesting aspects are a combination of the players' ability to switch between the different characters, and the narrative used to unfold not only the mystery at hand, but also each of those characters' backstory.

The latter makes for a story that isn't just about the murders and satanic rituals, but also about the main characters themselves. There have been too many adventure titles where you know pretty much everything you need to know about your character after the first few minutes of the game, and the game then takes that character and sends it through the events that the story is really about. In Yesterday, you quickly learn that the main characters not only have a past and secrets, but they are secrets you won't know completely until you've beaten the game. It's a nice change that just makes for a fuller storytelling experience.

The first mechanic, the multiple characters, isn't something new. Many games have done this with varying degrees of success (my favorite has always been Day of the Tentacle). Yesterday, for the most part, handles this mechanic well and actually goes a little farther than simply switching out the characters. Without trying to give away too much of the final scenes, the character you play as when you wrap up the game will change how it ends. I can't think of that many adventure games that have multiple endings.

I've been a fan of Pendulo Studios since their first Runaway game. For the most part, I enjoyed playing through Yesterday, but the puzzles are fairly easy and as a result, the story feels very short and with the exception of the multiple endings, there isn't much in the way of replay value, but it is still an experience that most fans of the genre or developer might want to check out. Just be warned that it isn't quite as fulfilling an experience as their previous games.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP SP2/Vista SP1/Windows 7, Intel/AMD 2.0 GHz Processor, 1024 MB RAM, 256 MB DirectX 9 compatible - ATI RADEON X800/INTEL GMA 3000/NVidia GeForce 6800 or higher Graphics Card, 4 GB Hard Disc, DirectX 9 compatible Sound Card
 

Test System:



Windows 7 Ultimate, Intel i7 X980 3.33GHz, 12 GB RAM, Radeon HD 5870 Graphics Card, DirectX 9.0c

Related Links:



iPad Spirit of Wandering: The Legend HD Microsoft Xbox 360 Anomaly Warzone Earth

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated