The point and click genre is one which has been largely dominated by Artifex Mundi and has been done so very successfully, with the studio churning out a multitude of games over the past year or so. Now, Pendulo Studios has returned with a new entry in the Yesterday series –Yesterday Origins, bringing with it the same bizarre and unusual storyline that seems to go hand in hand with point and click games. Yesterday Origins takes on a more satanic approach to its story, with a search for immortality thrown in for good measure.
Yesterday Origins begins during the Spanish inquisition; you play as a young boy, accused of being the son of Satan, and consequently has been thrown in jail. After tricking the guard into thinking a pig has ravaged you to death, you make your escape with the help of some holy men, who whisk you away to an unknown location. Jump forward 500 of so years and you wake up as a grown man, John Yesterday, in a hotel room in France. After playing about with your mobile, you learn that you are immortal, and have been continually dying and coming back to life for hundreds of years.
The only downside is that every time you are reborn, you lose your memory. Your girlfriend is also immortal, and the pair owns an antique shop, that is about to make a great sale, but everything is not quite as it seems. Yesterday Origins story is as intriguing as it is bizarre, but this just makes it all the more engaging, and the dramatic conclusion is more than enough motivation to stick with this game until the end (which does not actually take all that long).
Yesterday Origins: Xbox One [Reviewed], PC, PlayStation 4, Mac
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Release Date: 17 November 2016
Price: £31.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
The game is based around point and click interactions, where players must find items and use them to solve problems and complete puzzles. This can vary from shooting an arrow with a piece of string attached to grab a glove without being seen, to piloting a remote control boat back to shore to grab a key off of it, and pretty much everything in between. You can also interact with and combine these items to create new items or give you clues for future puzzles.
Some of these puzzles and interactions can be a little hard to figure out, and sometimes you may get stuck in an area for quite a while. The game’s difficulty might be set minorly too high, but this only means that the game offers more gameplay for your money, even if you are just wandering around aimlessly wondering what item you are missing to progress. Chances are you’ll need to rely on a little bit of trial and error along the way, but this doesn’t take anything away from the game, and instead challenges you to think outside the box and combine items you might not think go together. Also, don’t be surprised if you run round inspecting spots and miss something really obvious, consequently taking a break from the game and coming back later can often be a valid solution.
The game spends a lot of time jumping between past and present tense, as John Yesterday (and you) figures out his past. It’s a little hard to keep track of what’s going on at first and how the stories link, but once you’re a bit further into the game, and things are explained to you more, it’s not hard to keep up with. It also means you’ll be switching between a lot of interesting locations, from present-day New York to a church in the 1500’s, which provide a lot of interesting architecture.
The dark and sinister story of the protagonist potentially being Satan’s son and the search for immortality is mirrored in the dark and eerie settings of the churches in the past. Accompanied with dramatic, over the top music, these locations are appropriate to the story that is happening around them, and means the game is enjoyable to watch as well as listen to.
The cell shaded graphics style that the game has is interesting and creative, making the cut scenes and conversations between characters a fun endeavour. Unfortunately, it also makes for some jerky movements by the characters as well as supplying some rather unusual lip movements that don’t always match up anywhere near with what the character is saying. The actual movement of the character’s themselves, John and Paul (who you’ll also take control of in some chapters), can be awkward to try and move exactly where you want them to go.
In order to get the interaction button to show up when you are wandering about the scenes, you have to be in exactly the right position, and it can be very awkward to get this to show up, so don’t be surprised to find yourself wandering back and forth in an attempt to get the interaction button to stay long enough on screen to click it. This can also make it extremely easy to miss clickable spots, as you might simply walk past them and have them disappear before you manage to interact.
Interactions between the characters are also rather strange. Players can have lengthy conversations, which provide them with information you can then interact with later on in the scene with a completely different character, location or a specific item to help you solve a puzzle. These conversations are often very informative, and the characters have a habit of speaking rather deadpan and emotionless with each other, especially John himself.
The interactions are displayed to you in two boxes on the screen, with one character in each, and any items that are passed over or exchanged between them is shown in both boxes one after another. Other than providing a different angle, I’m not quite sure why this is shown twice and makes for some rather amusing moments and feelings of déjà vu.
Unfortunately, there were a few moments where the game either froze on me or got stuck forcing me to restart the game in order to carry on. Another instance, John was unable to walk and simply floated around his hotel room which, whilst amusing, was obviously not what was meant to be happening. Apart from this, the game runs very well and I didn’t experience any other problems across the two playthroughs that I completed. For the achievement hunters out there, there’s a nice mix between unmissable story related achievements and those that require you to think outside the box a little bit more, exploring every single item and interactable spot in each location.
Yesterday Origins manages to take a slightly disturbing and unusual subject and make it exciting and engaging to explore with John and Pauline. While it may really test you at times, there’s a decent amount of gameplay on offer here, that should challenge you more than some of the other more basic point and click games out there. If you can put up with some unusual movements, a few glitches here and there and having to rely on trial and error at times, then you should enjoy Yesterday Origins. Chances are it will only really appeal to fans of the point and click genre already, and possibly not the one to introduce you to the genre, but if you delve into this story then you won’t be disappointed.