Think carefully to catch a killer in Yesterday

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by TRACY-MARK GORGAS / Special contributor to NWCN.com

NWCN.com

Posted on April 6, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Updated Sunday, Nov 10 at 11:11 PM

Satanic cults, religious codes, and you have amnesia. Do you think you can solve a mystery?  Yesterday is a thriller adventure game from Pendulo Studios that will have you globetrotting, searching for clues to find a killer, and more importantly, who you are.
 
Story

Pendulo Studios wove a twisted and intriguing tale that I don't want to spoil.  I'll try to summarize it without giving too much away.

In New York someone is killing homeless people.  At first the killer was burning them to death.  As the killer evolved he, or she, started torturing them to death in satanic rituals.  When the killings became more gruesome and ritualistic, a millionaire (who had been using his vast resources to help the homeless), Henry White hires John Yesterday, a specialist in Satanism, to help catch the killer.  Just as John gets close to the answer he attempts suicide.  When John recovers he has amnesia and a ritualistic "Y" carved into his hand.  Now he is not only trying to find a killer, but find himself as well.

Controls and Gameplay

Yesterday is an old school style point and click adventure.  You are presented with a scene where you interact with select items, but you’ll have a limited number of items you can carry and use.  These become a sort of puzzle for you to solve.  Which item, or combination of items, you are carrying will "unlock" the puzzle to move the story along?

Pendulo varies the difficulty here from simply using a found bar and bat to bash open a lock to finding a way of throwing a camera without breaking it.  Pendulo does a good job of keeping it challenging yet limiting you to specific items to use and combine.  You will have to channel your inner "MacGyver" for some of them.  There are a couple places in Yesterday where they get a little too specific.  At one point you have to break a glass door to get out a fire axe.  In your inventory is an item you used earlier to break a hole in a brick wall that suddenly you can't use to break the glass.

If you do get stumped Pendulo has built in a hint system to help you along.  There is a "light bulb" button you can click on that offers a small hint.  To keep you from abusing the hint system, after clicking it will be unusable again until you have interacted with the scene a certain number of times.
 
Graphics and Sound

For a game that tackles a serious story it's surprising that for Yesterday they went with the same cartoony graphics of their previous comedic games.  Yet the art style, a sort of Scooby-do meets computer animation, does seem to fit the game well.

Pendulo chose a great cast of voice actors.  Each carries their parts and delivers their lines well.  The soundtrack is sporadic and moody, which sets the stage for not only creating an air of creepiness, but giving that feeling of John being a lost person looking for the answers of what really happened.

Overall

The point and click style of games was popular in 1980's, but as systems became more capable it went out of style.  Occasionally though a small studio would pop up with a notable game.  In more recent years the genre seems to be making a comeback.  Pendulo Studios appears to be helping with that resurgence.  Yesterday is good, damn good.

The hallmarks of a good point and click adventure come down to a good story with well thought out puzzles.  Yesterday has both of these.  The story is a little predictable, but is so well told and presented that you want to solve the puzzles to further it along.  While it is a seriously gritty and sometimes downright macabre, it is also has good helping of funny bits sprinkled in to keep it from getting too heavy.

The only problem with the story might be is that it is too short.  I was able to finish the game in about six hours.  It was a good story, the pacing was fine and I enjoyed it, but when the end came I was just surprised how short it was.  I kind of wanted more.  I hope Pendulo Studios does more thriller stories and follows John Yesterday again.  I do know they have earlier point and click titles, so I may have to find them.

A great thriller, presented in a solid old school point and click style that ends too quickly.  I give Yesterday a 4.5 out of 5.

Yesterday has not been rated the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB), but in my opinion I would say it's M for Mature for Language and Violence.

Yesterday is available now for Windows PC.  For more information see the Yesterday web site.
 

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