previews\ Feb 22, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Yesterday Preview


Pendulo Studios is at it again, but this time throws a twist on their latest point and click adventure game, Yesterday.  Normally known for their sense of humor, Yesterday shows a side of Pendulo Studios we've never seen before -  a darker side filled with gruesomness and twisted humor.

In my short experience with a preview build of the game, I will say the story definitely left me intrigued, but gameplay and mechanic issues seem to be the big question mark surrounding Yesterday.

In terms of gameplay, Yesterday doesn't break the mold from other point-and-click adventures.  It's got your typical option buttons for Hints, Hotspots (places on the screen that are clickable), and a few other setting controls; and then it has your inventory.  It's a simplistic layout;  useful, but one that I found somewhat clumsy.  The inventory works on a scrolling mechanic so when attempting to pick up an item for use it would often scroll through the items instead of selecting the one I chose.

Aside from the slight control issues, which I assume will be worked out before release, the game plays as expected.  You search the 2D environment for clues and hidden objects and, in turn, use the items you found to solve puzzles.  Puzzles work like this:  You find a toy, but the toy itself isn't the useful part.  Instead, you need the batteries inside the toy to get a phone to work, but to get the batteries you need a screwdriver. 

The puzzles are on par for your adventure game.  Those with experience in this genre will be familiar with the techniques needed to solve them.  Those like me, who are easily stumped, can turn to the game's built-in hint system which grants some helpful, and some not-so helpful clues as what to do next.  For those totally clueless, you can use the Hotspot button to see all of the areas on the screen that are interactive.  Aside from the hints, which are made available only after investigating several objects to charge up the "meter", the game offers very little in terms of guidance.  There is little, in terms of intertwined storytelling, that leads you where to go or what to do next.  Rather, it is up to you to combine items in bizarre ways to work out what the game wants you to do.  It's definitely challenging, but after a while it will start to click.

Like I said, Yesterday doesn't attempt to redefine the point-and-click adventure genre.  Instead it takes a popular genre and wraps an interesting, yet twisted plot around it.  The game, or rather my preview, kicked off with a short, disturbing, confusing intro video that left me confused...and intrigued to explore more.

With no explanation, I was then introduced to two playable characters: Henry White, a dedicated member of the Sons of Don Quixote, an organization aimed at helping rehabilitate the homeless, and his friend Cooper, a rather large man haunted by memories of his Young Pioneer days - particularly of Pioneer leader Mr. Hart shouting and belittling him.  Henry is investigating the disappearance of homeless people who are eventually discovered after being burned alive.  For reasons even the main characters can't explain, they wind up at an abandoned subway station, where I was then tasked with exploring as Henry - alone.  It is here where the twisted story begins.

Without spoiling too much of the game's early plot, some intense events took place which led to me taking control of the stronger, but easily scared Cooper for a short period of time.  Of course, the preview only gave me a taste of two of the three playable characters in Yesterday before it ended - but not before delivering a gut busting plot twist that left me saying "Holy sh*t!"  I kid you not, that was my reaction.  It was then that I realized Yesterday was not going to be your run-of-the-mill adventure game.

Despite it's dark plot, Yesterday is presented in a 2D stylized cartoonish way.  Those familiar with Pendulo Studios will immediately recognize and embrace the style.  For others it might take some getting used to.  But don't let the cartoon style fool you; within each scene is jam-packed detail.  I'm not sure if this was to keep the size of the preview build down, but there are some awkward moments of silence during the game's cutscenes, which are basically comic-style graphics with text that you must read.  I hope in the final version there will be some sort of eery background music to help set the mood.

In all, Yesterday is shaping up to be quite the impressive adventure from Pendulo Studios.  So far, it's got all of the ingredients: fun gameplay, a unique plot, and a great presentation package.  If they get a few of the kinks worked out and keep the rest of the story just as compelling as my preview, it could be a really great game. 

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