Platforms: PC, Mac, iPad
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Release Date: March 22, 2012
. . . When last we left our intrepid heroes Henry and Cooper, they'd just escaped a harrowing experience in an abandoned New York subway station. That was the scenario of the official Yesterday preview I reviewed a couple of months back. I told you that at the end of that episode there was a dramatic turn of events. Oh, boy. Except, I can't now tell you what it is because that would be letting the cat out of the bag.
I can, however, reveal that after that opening chapter the main character of the game, one John Yesterday, enters the picture. He's a gloomy amnesiac hired by a certain corporate honcho to investigate the strange and sinister doings of an ancient satanic cult, while at the same time struggling to piece together his own fragmented and far-from-reassuring past life. Off Mr. Yesterday goes to Paris to resume the search that was interrupted so rudely there some time earlier. Somehow, before it's all over, Yesterday and you will have uncovered all the dark past and will have even learned the peculiar fate of that earlier duo, Henry and Cooper.
Time plays an important part, not surprisingly, in a game named Yesterday. As the further chapters of the game unfold, time twists backwards and forwards and sideways. The main plot of the game is not long, but is greatly complicated by all the yanking of the player through various corridors of the past. The cast of main characters is also not large. In addition to Henry, Cooper and John, you'll also meet John's onetime Parisian paramour Pauline, a blind Himalayan martial arts master (Google "Kung Fu," grasshopper) and John's scholarly mom. Oh, and one oddly naughty hotel manager.
The game mechanics I elaborated on in my earlier preview continue through the rest of the game. The puzzles also remain traditional inventory- and dialogue-based throughout. The game's efficient interface operates as smooth as glass, except I never quite got the hang of dragging items without accidentally triggering some unwanted action just north of the inventory strip. I did discover this time around that I could double-click the spot I want John Yesterday to zap to. The sounds of the game are expertly unobtrusive as is the underlying music score. The one thing designed to breathe through, and likely to haunt you for some time afterward, is the spooky whistled theme song. It's catchy, in a diabolical sort of way.
Which prompts me to remind parents and other legal guardians that this isn't a game for the young'uns. Yesterday does indeed turn much darker than that preview led me to believe. There is Satanism, torture, foul language and adult social situations, for which it is rated 16 by the Pan European Game Info website. Whatever that is.
Technically, the game ran well on my run-of-the-mill laptop, except for some stuttering in the voices during the cutscenes; probably the fault of my anemic processor. In lieu of game saves there are icons for four separate players and their story positions are automatically bookmarked upon quitting.
Near the end of the proceedings the player is presented with a choice of three ways to conclude the game. I recommend you quit the game at, or just before, this spot to allow you to come back to play through each of the scenarios. They're all different and interesting enough to make the effort worthwhile.
Yesterday is well-written and ably voice-acted, and the pastelish, cartoonish graphics are of the same quality as Pendulo's earlier Runaway and other adventures. The story held my interest and did surprise me a number of times. I'm not really sure it works on a horror level. I don't recollect being scared by anything, unless you count a couple of instances of mild revulsion. But I don't think Yesterday is a horror title so much as it is a mature psychological adventure. The story is similar in ways to Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code. It also reminded me of two classic earlier adventures, the first Broken Sword game, Shadow of the Templars, and the last Gabriel Knight game, Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned. Yesterday falls in between those two, for me, in terms of shock value.
The game isn't exactly easy but neither is it especially difficult. Although the game play areas are severely circumscribed to, at most, a few connected rooms à la Telltale, I did think the puzzles were intelligent and occasionally interesting. There's also a hint button that supposedly only helps you every ten "moves," if you so desire. I was content that it sat quietly in the inventory strip. The story is really the main meal here. In fact, the one real criticism I have is that Yesterdayis abnormally short. I finished it in only two evenings, about eight hours total. Perhaps this is another one of those things that today's adventure gamers prefer. After all, a boring game doesn't improve simply by being longer. But I do like an adventure to last me about a week or so, because getting caught up for days in the intricacies of a game is much of the fun for me.
Pendulo Studios' new adventure Yesterday is a short, tasty meal that has the feel of a "casual" game. It's a little too salty for immature palates, but good food for thought for adult gamers. Because of its brevity I can't award it very high marks, but I will bestow upon it the very respectable grade of B plus.
System Requirements (PC):
● OS: Windows 7/XP SP2/Vista SP1
● Processor: INTEL/AMD 2.0GHZ
● Memory: 1024 MB (XP)/2048 MB (VISTA/7)
● Graphics: 256 MB 100% DirectX 9 Compatible. ATI Radeon X800/INTEL Gma 3000/NVIDIA geForce 6800 or Higher
● Hard Drive: 8 GB
● Sound: DirectX 9 Compatible