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Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Yesterday.


Yesterday.



In a scenario distantly reminiscent of the actual plot of the game, I had actually played Yesterday before, long, long ago, back not long after its release. The name, showing up in an associate's Steam library as one of the several point-and-click adventure games she possessed, didn't ring a bell until she started playing and I saw the opening cutscene. Suddenly, it all came flooding back, and by 'all' I mean 'some' and by 'flooding' I mean 'trickling', because perhaps a little ironically the game is not nearly as memorable as it might actually be.

An indie point and click adventure game, Yesterday follows John Yesterday, a man over-endowed in cheekbones and comparatively under-endowed in memories of his own life. Having awoken with amnesia after apparently drinking mercury, he is set on the path of the Inquisitor, a serial killer who targets and mutilates homeless people, by his friend and patron Henry White. Yesterday's search soon draws him into the sordid history of a Satanist cult, the Order of the Flesh.

It's a short game - when I originally played it, it took me about six hours, and my associate's playthrough took about five - and it feels it, with slightly bizarre pacing that means Yesterday can't walk three paces without discovering a Terrible Secret about his past. The man's amnesia might be the most transitory in fiction, with him regaining memories more or less constantly. 

Evil church.

The game intercuts the main storyline with flashback sections where you're puzzling about in Yesterday's past - once at an abandoned factory and twice at a remote mountain dojo somewhere in Tibet (I think). They're fun sections, and they mean that the scenery gets varied up a bit, but it also means that the main story is even shorter than it otherwise would be, with Yesterday's investigation being so short and simple it's a wonder nobody figured it out before him.

In general, though, the story writing isn't very strong. It has its moments - the end of the prologue is somewhat shocking, and it's a pretty fun story to play through, but there was at least one moment where the story writing made my associate laugh so hard that she had to stop playing lest she end up coughing up blood in her mirth. Yesterday is a pretty flat character, the villains are cackling paragons of evil, and Yesterday's love interest gets almost no development and has wild personality swings constantly.

(Yesterday seems to think it's Broken Sword, an older and much better point-and-click adventure game, going so far as to re-use some of the iconic settings from that game. Your point-and-click adventure game starts off in Paris and has its finale at a ruined Scottish church that contains the secrets of a long forgotten religious order hunted down and destroyed in medieval times, you say? Yes, yes, tell me more.

It definitely falls on the side of homage rather than being a rip-off or anything like that, but Yesterday is no Broken Sword, and it doesn't seem to understand any of the elements that made Broken Sword such a good and such a beloved game.)

Very pretty.

It's not an offensively bad story, I'll say that. It's fun, it has some nice moments, and it's generally all right. The game's graphics, meanwhile, are often quite beautiful, having a kind of painterly element to them. Characters aren't especially expressive, and the game cunningly avoids having to animate people moving too much by instead having them teleport around the screen, but they're pretty to look at, and the environments they inhabit are gorgeous (with special mention going to the Tibetan sections, which are a visual treat).

The voice acting, also, is generally okay. Again, it's not brilliant, and nobody's going to be winning any awards for it, but it's not distractingly bad at any point.

The puzzles, too, are fine. They're old-school adventure game puzzles, which means they're a little bit frustrating, and that's fine. That's what people expect from point and click adventures, god knows I'm not going to begrudge Yesterday for giving it to them. The puzzles can occasionally get too obscure, forcing you to essentially wander around clicking on everything in the vain hope that something will produce something new, but for the most part, they're perfectly serviceable puzzles.

Quick, deflect the bullets with your cheeks.

In conclusion, this is definitely a game. Which you can play on a computer. If you so desire. It's a game that you maybe shouldn't play unless you have a five hours of free time going to waste and really like point-and-click adventure games that think they're more clever than they really are, but it's most certainly there. Present. For you to play. As you see fit.

It's only £1.74, so there is that.

(Incidentally, the game is dedicated to homeless people, but the first act has homeless people portrayed as Evil And Scary And Dangerous. Those two particular homeless people in the first act are the only homeless people who show up in the entire game. So - good job?)

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