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Yesterday Origins

Score: 89%
ESRB: Mature
Publisher: Microids
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Adventure

Graphics & Sound:

Yesterday Origins delves deeper into the story of John Yesterday, the immortal character with memory issues first introduced in 2012's Yesterday, also from Pendulo Studios.

Pendulo has always had an interesting visual style to their games, and Yesterday Origins continues that trend. All of the characters tend to have sharp, angular features, especially in their faces, almost as if they were carved out of clay, while never looking so stylized as to feel wrong. These models roam around in rich and varied locations that could be anything from the streets of Paris, to Central Park, or a medieval monastery. No matter the location, everything looks and feels appropriate and all with the unique art direction that Pendulo seems to favor.

Accompanying the visuals are solid performances from the voice actors and well-executed dialogue to keep even the most rote conversation-puzzles from feeling boring or drawn out. Backing up the dialogue are the necessary background sounds and music that help to bring each setting to life.


Gameplay:

Yesterday Origins is not just about continuing John's story some years after the events of Yesterday, but also going back into the man's history and seeing the events play out that led him to the ritual that has made him immortal.

In order to do this, the game actually plays out two different stories. In one, it follows the character during his first life leading up to the pivotal ritual, while the other story is in the present. In the past, Miguel De Castro was the son of a duke and imprisoned by the Spanish Inquisition for being a spawn of the devil. When rescued from his prison by a priest, GinÚs, he follows the man for years, learning not only about his own powers and their source, but also of a ritual that should help satisfy both Miguel and GinÚs' desires.

In the present, John lives in Paris with his girlfriend Pauline. The two own an antique store, something that helps keep the two of them busy most of the time. While the faulty ritual that made John immortal means he loses his memory every time he is reborn, the more recently, and correctly, performed ritual that granted Pauline with immortality means she doesn't have a problem losing her memory. This can actually lead to some interesting solutions to rather mundane problems. This is shown quite early in the game when Pauline doesn't like the wrinkles that appear under her eyes and knowing that her death will lead to her being reborn at the same age she was when the ritual happened can push those wrinkles off a few years more.

When a tycoon moves to Paris looking to collect some fine pieces of artwork and antiquity, John sees an opportunity to sell a valuable product they have in their shop in the hopes of getting out of some financial difficulties the pair find themselves in. What John doesn't realize is that this business venture will start him down a path that will lead him to uncover his origins and the secrets he has long forgotten. It is quickly apparent that he is being manipulated, but to what end?


Difficulty:

Yesterday Origins has some tough puzzles in it, but for the most part, all of the solutions make logical sense and never feel out of place. The only time I found myself truly frustrated with the game (that wasn't caused by me simply overlooking an inventory item or something simple like that) was when I was given a cryptex to open. Several clues led me in a specific direction and trying that option, as well as a few variations on it, yielded nothing. The eventual answer was one that seemed to come from left field.

This puzzle wouldn't have been nearly as frustrating if it weren't for the tedious way that you have to interact with the cryptex. One click rotated one of the cylinders one position. When you are trying to spell out a five-letter word, this gets boring fast, and when you get to the end of that word only to have it not work, frustration begins to set in, especially when the next word you choose to try means that some of the letters are a full rotation away from the currently selected letter and you can only roll the cylinders in one direction. In the end, a smoother interface for this particular puzzle would have made for a less frustrating experience and the fact that the clues led me astray wouldn't have been as annoying. That being said, this particular puzzle was the worst offender in the game's repertoire and I found very few issues or stumbling blocks as I worked my way through the game's story.

In the end, Yesterday Origins presented a variety of fun, but challenging puzzles for a very satisfying experience.


Game Mechanics:

I really like Yesterday Origins' approach when it comes to inventory and puzzle-solving. Where most adventure games have you applying the objects you've picked up to various hotspots in the world, or if you can combine the items, then each other, Yesterday Origins finds a way to force the player to back up their action by frequently requiring some kind of reason behind the action you are taking.

This is done by not only adding inventory items to your collection, but also facts you learn as you talk with or examine other characters. So, when you decide to rub a poisonous frog on the inside of a tankard, you have to also provide the fact that you want to induce hallucinations in your guard, or maybe you need to see where a thief has stored some stolen property. The action you will want to take will have to be backed up by the fact that you've already determined this character is the thief first.

The addition of these non-tangible inventory items adds an interesting depth to the standard inventory puzzle problems as it either makes sure the player isn't just randomly trying everything they have with everything else, or if they are, then they will also end up knowing why they are doing it, because they will have to supply some piece of motivation to the action in order to accomplish it. Naturally, not every inventory puzzle requires this extra bit of information, but many of the bigger problems do. For instance, you only need actual inventory items to put together an RC controller, but if you want it to actually move the RC vehicle you want to connect to, you will need a little something extra.

It's a simple, but elegant mechanic that adds just a bit more depth to the puzzles the game puts in front of the player. As a result, Yesterday Origins is a solid game that any adventure fan should want to tackle. What's better is that you don't really need to have played through Yesterday in order to delve into this title. While the previous game is great to help establish John and Pauline's recent past, given how much of this story is about John's early life, it isn't really necessary.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows XP/Vista/7/8/10 - 64 bits, AMD /Intel quad-core processor running at 2.2 GHz Processors, 2048 MB RAM, ATI/NVIDIA dedicated/integrated or mobile graphic card, with at least 512MB of dedicated VRAM and with at least Shader Model 4.0 support, DirectX Version 9.0, 4 GB Available Hard Drive Space
 

Test System:



Intel Core i7-3820 CPU @ 3.60GHz, 16 GB dual-channel DDR3,Windows 10 Home 64 bit, Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 680 (4GB)

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated