Published by Focus Home Interactive
Developed by Pendulo Studios
There can be no denying that Pendulo Studios are known for a particular style of adventure game. Whilst they've remained faithful to a classic point and click control scheme, their games have always had an original look and feel to them. However, it's their games' humour which has really stood out. In last year's The Next BIG Thing the humour reached its zaniest zenith and it was always going to be difficult to top it. Rather than attempt to do so, Pendulo Studios have decided to tone down the humour and pitch their next game quite a bit darker than anything they've done before and from our time with a preview build of their latest game, Yesterday, it's a move that looks to be a great decision.
Set in New York City, Yesterday's storyline is concerned with the plight of beggars who have been disappearing only to later be found burnt alive with a Y-shaped scar on the palms of their hands. Neither the police nor the media have been giving the matter much attention however and only a humanitarian organisation calling themselves the Children of Don Quixote have shown an interest in finding out what's going on. In Yesterday you'll get to play as a young rich heir named Henry K. White, his friend Cooper and someone named John Yesterday (who wasn't present in the preview build).
As the preview begins we see Henry and Cooper heading for an underground railway station in search of beggars that he can help and convince them that they can have a better life. At the railway station things don't quite work out however when he stumbles across a couple of lunatics who appear to be running some kind of cult, with mannequins making up the majority of their membership. For the bulk of the preview I had control of Henry but once he's captured by Choke, who is the head of the cult, I had a chance to play as Cooper. If the preview build is anything to go by, the storyline looks like it's going to be very interesting and the big twist and the end definitely left me wanting to get my hands on the finished game as quickly as possible.
Of course the storyline is only part of the adventure game experience. Thankfully one of the other key ingredients for an adventure game, the puzzles, also appears to be up to scratch. There were several puzzles in the preview build ranging from the standard puzzles (where you collect items and use them in combination with each other) to some straightforward chess puzzles. The standard puzzles were all logical. Finding the required items to solve the puzzles was straightforward. There's no need for any pixel hunting to find items if you don't want to do it. You can click on the appropriate button to temporarily show you where the items are that you can interact with. The indicators that highlight these locations are only shown for second or two which means that you can use them to assist you without having them constantly shown and making the experience feel too easy. Once you've acquired the relevant items, you can combine them in ways that make sense and as a result there's minimal frustration. The game also provides some gentle hints should you ever feel stuck which is certainly welcome. In case you're wondering, the chess puzzles aren't that difficult but in the preview build at least, you weren't punished for making the wrong choice and you simply had the chance to pick another one of the possible solutions if you did pick the wrong answer.
If there was a fly in the ointment with previous games from Pendulo it's that there have been some accessibility problems. Both Runaway: A Twist of Fate and The Next BIG Thing were subtitled but both games featured a puzzle that required the ability to hear. In A Twist of Fate you could overcome the problem by simply reading a walkthrough for the game but the puzzle in The Next BIG Thing had random elements making it impossible to simply glance at a walkthrough. In this preview of the Yesterday I've found no problems. None of the puzzles have required the ability to hear and the dialogue has been text only, although it has to be said that this preview didn't feature any speech and the final game will of course.
With The Next BIG Thing Pendulo Studios turned up the zany humour to the maximum and whilst it worked for that game, it's good to see Pendulo going for a change of pace with Yesterday. The mood is definitely much darker here and there's a more serious tone to the game. That said, the trademark humour hasn't been abandoned completely and it seems as though there will be enough here to offer some relief from the game's darker moments. The puzzles in the preview are logical and suggest that Pendulo have done a fine job of making you think without being frustrating, which is always a good sign. The game's storyline definitely looks as though it's going to be the main attraction however and I can't wait for its release later this year.