Yesterday, a game that promises to deliver a thrilling story and dark mystery from Pendulo Studios. Some of you may recongize this company as the makers of the Runaway trilogy. I have no played the Runaway trilogy so I will be unable to compare Yesterday to their other works.
The year is 2011 in New York, homeless people all over the city have disappeared without a trace. Only to have their bodies discovered lifeless days later. Henry White, the typical young and nerdy rich heir and his friend Cooper, affiliated with a charitable organization dedicated to helping the homeless are the first to investigate. Later on, you are introduced to John Yesterday, an enigmatic man who seems to have lost his memory. Their stories and fates are interlinked with one another, and it is up to you, the player to discover this link and find out who is killing these homeless people and why.
The game starts off with one of the strongest openings I have ever seen, and one of the most disturbing openings. The game starts off rather light then suddenly descends into the darkness of Satanic worshipping cults and murders.
You begin with Henry White, whom I mentioned in the beginning of the post is a nerdy but rich heir to his parents’ company. You only play with his character and his best friend during the first two chapters. Afterwards, your main character for rest of the story will be John Yesterday; a man with amnesia after a failed suicide attempt involving mercury. Having the protagonist of the game afflicted with amnesia is not a new idea, but the mechanic is enjoyable nevertheless. Seeing him slowly recovering his memory via flashbacks, where some flashback sequences are playable and learning new skills in the process. Especially how his amnesia heavily influences the story, this applies most importantly towards near the end game when everything begins to come together.
I had two problems with the game overall. The first one is about how the puzzles work. The puzzles in the game were often illogical. Solutions that seem the most obvious are often not the correct one. For example, you see a padlock and you had the following items: aluminum can, screwdriver, box cutter knife and so forth. It would make sense to perhaps, first try using the screwdriver or the cutter to open the lock? Or maybe use different items to get around the gate that is blocking you. However, the solution is to actually cut a piece of aluminum strip from the can and use it to open the padlock.
Not really the solution I had in mind, in fact that never really occured to me as a solution. The only thing I thought to use the strip of aluminium was to maybe recover a coin from the vending machine, since it is stuck in the coin drop when the knife failed to dislodge it. Or you could just…knocked the machine a bit with a kick or punch to get the coin moving. However, Henry is not known for his physical prowess so perhaps doing the last action is not something he would do.
Another puzzle(s) I experienced problems was how easy it was to miss an important item you needed. I had to restart from the beginning of a chapter at least twice since I did not realize I had missed an important item, an item needed to solve a puzzle or vital to the game’s progression. I do not expect hand holding, but a little clue to when you missed something important would be nice. Or at least be allowed to exit the screen of the puzzle you were solving, so you could look around the room to find the missing object you needed to finish the puzzle.
Edit: Even learning about alchemy was intriguing for me since alchemy is not really something I think about. Seeing them involve puzzles that revolved around alchemy was new to me. It was an interesting concept and how it all ties into the story. I hardly use alchemy in games (e.g Elder Scrolls) myself though. However, the alchemy based puzzles was quite literally the same puzzle, meaning it had the same basic idea and solution. I found that disappointing. I think they could had done so much more with on the idea of puzzles revolving around alchemy, although I could see there would be problems trying to add them and keeping them tied to the story.
Not is all lost as you happen to have a hint system and another interface that highlights all possible interactive objects. The hint system can seem rather condescending though. It will offer a vague hint at first, to give you a push in the right direction. If you are still stuck and click on the hint once more, it will point it out and perhaps add a comment saying “it is right there in plain sight, come on” or some words to that effect..
The last issue was how short the game was. It took me about two hours in total to finish the game and it seemed rushed. Things are finally picking up and becoming interesting but it abruptly ends. It is a shame since I was beginning to get into the story, and partly enjoying it when it concluded the story.
The whole choose your ending was a nice thing to include although it felt rather unnecessary. It also made it feel like the ending was not really important or changed the game significantly. I will admit though that there was some sense of satisfaction seeing all the three endings, I hear there is a hidden fourth ending but I never figured that out. I admit I was also lazy to go find out how to unlock the fourth ending.
It was a disappointment for me personally. Spending all that time solving the agonizing puzzles and going through the long conversations, to have what could be a great story come to an abrupt conclusion. The game has potential but was ruined by the frustrating puzzles and length. It felt like it could be so much more.