Yesterday Origins (PC) Review

By Ofisil 02.12.2016 1

Review for Yesterday Origins on PC

Pendulo Studios has a pretty long history in the adventure genre; one that started with the Runaway series, which, although considered to be its "gem," got mixed, yet generally positive, reviews, since it managed to partially capture the charm of old-school point-and-click adventures. A few years back, it released Yesterday, a nice, but, otherwise, unimpressive, and somewhat brief, trip into occultism. Yesterday Origins comes back into this strange world of mortal-turned-immortal John Yesterday, and attempts to act both as a continuation, as well as a journey back to the hero's beginnings.

After an alchemical ritual that ensued sometime in the Dark Ages, John Yesterday becomes an immortal. Due to a missing ingredient, however, whenever he "dies," he loses his memory. Thankfully, his significant other recently went through the same, but, 100% accurate, process, and she therefore acts as his personal "memory backup," which lets them live their lives as peacefully as possible, and try to make ends meet at their small antique shop. Of course, holding the key to immortality means that someone will always be eager to disrupt your everyday routine.

Yesterday Origins goes back to the cliché tropes of the original, but, thankfully, adds some nice little twists into the mix to stir things up. The thing about it, though, is that it goes back and forth in time, since John Yesterday will get to restore fragments of his past, and thus be able to revisit his "past lives," and, hopefully, shed some light onto who he really is. Before delving further into things, however, it must be noted that this is clearly a Pendulo Studios' creation, meaning that it has a very distinctive style, both visually, as well as in the way it handles its storytelling elements.

Screenshot for Yesterday Origins on PC

The vibrantly coloured backgrounds are simply stunning, and perfectly blend with the 3D character models; characters with a strange, love-it-or-hate-it cartoony look, with the main hero being, for some strange reason, the ugliest of the bunch. The storytelling is quite similar. The developer has a very unique off-the-wall black comedy style that won't appeal to everyone, as well as some gratuitous violence, strong language, and dark themes, that feel somewhat out of place.

Granted, that's the Pendulo's approach to things, but that doesn't excuse the cast members for falling on two big categories: bland and forgettable, or just simply unpleasant. The problem with that is the fact that this actually happens more with the ones that it shouldn't. It's okay for a minor NPC to be boring, or one who tortures on behalf of the Inquisition to be unlikable, but what about when the same applies to the "good guys." At least, and just like with Runaway, Pendulo Studios is great when it comes to the "archaeology" bits, both due to the mystery involved, as well as the attention to detail and historical authenticity.

Screenshot for Yesterday Origins on PC

Personal tastes put aside, the main issue here is that, while the pacing is very good (one to two sittings per chapter, six chapters in total), up to chapter five, it never feels as if there's a goal to chase, as things… just happen, and only the "past" segments are actually of any interest, although far from storytelling masterpieces themselves. Despite the criticism, however, one can surely have a few pleasant evenings with this tale. In the end, of course, it all boils down to the gameplay, and this is where Yesterday Origins truly becomes a hit-and-miss scenario.

Puzzles are mostly very good and diverse, and also force the player to find a reason before doing something. Fortunately, unlike the way this system was implemented in the Runaway series, this works great here, mainly because of the keyword mechanic, with said keywords being "items" that can be acquired by talking with people or by simply exploring around. Therefore, if John decides to, say, help someone escape, he must connect all the necessary items, but also use the keyword "escape." In other words, Yesterday Origins makes you think and form a plan instead of just randomly messing with the inventory.

Screenshot for Yesterday Origins on PC

Everything is swell? Far from it. First of all, not all puzzles are exciting, with the ones in the first half of the present timeline being of the "put ink in printer" variety. Secondly, this uses a very innovative system, where looking at a hotspot zooms in on it, letting the player drag-and-move/rotate the view, but, while this makes exploring more dynamic, because you'll actually have to move the camera lower to discover a hidden drawer, it's a system that doesn't always work as intended, as it's a bit too sensitive, and thus easy to miss an interactive part.

Another big flaw, although, one that doesn't happen too often, is the steps that are sometimes required to reach a goal, like in a certain part of the game, where, in order to get a pair of glasses, you have to look at the eyes of a man, notice that he is not wearing any, ask him where they are, and then, and only then, take them… even though they were in plain sight all this time! In conclusion, this is a fun, somewhat charming, but otherwise, far from special or perfect adventure, typical of the studio that created it.

Screenshot for Yesterday Origins on PC

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

Yesterday Origins is the reflection of the team behind it; a team with a deep passion for the genre that it has been serving for more than two decades, but also one that's not "there" yet. While generally a nice ancient mystery/crime thriller, and although the puzzle-solving is quite good, it certainly needs some fine tuning here and there, both when it comes to its characters, as well as its gameplay mechanics.

Developer

Pendulo Studios

Publisher

Microids

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

Shame it doesn't really improve much over the Runaway games.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Watch Adam on the BBC! | K-Pop Korner FB Page | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

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