Published by Focus Home Interactive
Developed by Pendulo Studios
If you’re a fan of point and click adventure games you’ll be well aware of the previous games developed by Pendulo Studios. The series they are most well known for is the Runaway trilogy which focused on the adventures of Brian Basco and Gina Timmins. As crazy as their adventures may have been, they were nothing when compared to the madcap events of Dan Murray and Liz Allaire in Pendulo’s next game: The Next BIG Thing which is quite possibly the most madcap adventure I’ve played. With the zaniness seemingly heading out of control, it’s perhaps not surprising that Pendulo Studios decided to make their next game altogether different. Yesterday isn’t really a humorous experience; in fact it’s quite a dark and sinister game in some respects. That said, the game has Pendulo’s usual quality running right through it along with a globetrotting storyline that will keep you guessing to the very end which, unfortunately, arrives all too soon.
You’ll play as three different characters in Yesterday but for the most part you’ll be concentrating on what happens and what has happened to a man named John Yesterday. John is an amnesiac and during the course of the game you’ll discover exactly who he is and why he has a Lazarus-like ability to return from the dead. In fact John has experienced several lifetimes and you’ll switch back and forth from the previous times as his story is revealed. Whilst the focus is mainly on John Yesterday, there are also two other main characters here: Henry White and to a lesser extent his sidekick Samuel Cooper. You’ll play as both of these characters during the early phase of the game but what stands out about these characters is that they aren’t what they initially appear to be and that’s just one of the many twists in the storyline that will keep you glued to the game.
So the storyline is engrossing and the characters are interesting but what about the other main ingredient in an adventure game? Well thankfully the puzzles have been well thought out and for the most part are fairly logical. The puzzles are fairly traditional in that you’ll need to collect specific items and in some cases combine them with other items in your inventory. A lot of the puzzles are straightforward but there are several which will make you really think. Some of the solutions may seem a little bizarre but none are nonsensical. Should you ever find yourself stuck, you’ll be pleased to learn that Yesterday includes a hint system. What I really like about the hints is that they never give you anything other than a subtle hint and some thought is still required, which is exactly what a hint should be. Whilst you can pixel hunt in search of which items can be interacted with, it’s not something you have to do. Clicking on the Hot Spots button will reveal the areas on the screen you can interact with. These areas are only highlighted for a second or two however but it’s just enough to let you know where you should be clicking.
The biggest complaint I have with Yesterday is its length. To be blunt, you’re not going to get five hours out of the game (even allowing for thinking time when you find yourself stuck) and that’s incredibly disappointing. The most disappointing aspect of the game’s brevity however is not so much that the game is over so quickly, it’s that the storyline as a whole feels as though it could have easily been twice as long. Pendulo have created an intriguing storyline with plenty of twists that really deserves to have been elaborated upon and instead it feels as though the storyline has been edited down to its bare essentials. The game also includes multiple endings but these endings are simply triggered by answering a couple of questions towards the very end of the game. Whilst I’m all for multiple endings in games, here they do seem to have been tacked on as an afterthought. I would have much preferred the multiple endings to have been the result of choices made throughout the game and not just at the end, as you can simply go back to the relevant chapter and play out the last five minutes or so to see the different endings. Had you been required to play the bulk of the game again, and not just the last five minutes, it would have compensated nicely for the game’s brevity.
Yesterday is a visual delight and is easily one of the more graphically impressive adventure games I’ve played. Pendulo have retained the same graphical style for the characters and they look just as impressive here as in their last couple of games. The quality of the artwork in the game’s backgrounds is simply excellent and head and shoulders above what you would find in most adventure games today. As beautiful as the game looks however there are some minor disappointments with the game’s presentation. If your character has to take anything more than a couple of steps you won’t see them walk the distance, instead you’ll see then vanish from their starting location and suddenly appear at their destination. Whilst I appreciate this is cutting down on the time you’re waiting for them to complete the journey, there’s no denying that it looks a little rough. During conversations you’ll see close-up views, in separate windows, of the two characters who are speaking. Personally I think this is a little odd and I would have preferred the option to turn this off.
The last two games from Pendulo have each provided a puzzle that relied on the ability to hear. Thankfully there are no such puzzles in Yesterday. I encountered no problems for deaf gamers at all with any of the puzzles, which is excellent. All of the dialogue is displayed in text. The game’s hints are delivered in text too. In fact, I was surprised to find that a large quantity of the dialogue isn’t voiced at all. This seems strange for a modern adventure game, although it’s by no means a problem.
Yesterday proves that Pendulo Studios are capable of much more than adventure games with bizarre stories and even more bizarre characters. Yesterday’s storyline is dark and full of twists keeping you interested until its conclusion. Unfortunately, the conclusion arrives far too soon which is disappointing because you can see that there is potential here for the storyline to have been much grander. The game’s brevity is a problem, that not even the different endings manage to make up for, but this is still a top quality adventure game that I would recommend to fans of the genre.