Yesterday Origins is a point and click adventure game with good writing, fantastic music, and occasionally frustrating mechanics. Should you be diving into this adventure, or should you wait until your next life?
The main character of Yesterday Origins is John Yesterday, and he has lived for approximately 500 years. The only problem is that he can only remember bits and pieces of his life. Even though he is immortal, when he dies, he returns to the age he was made immortal and cannot remember anything about his previous life. This is a little more troublesome than just losing your keys. The game focuses on John’s quest to remember his past and discover the source of his immortality and what he has been doing for his entire life.
The game is set in modern Paris where John lives with his girlfriend, Pauline. She is also immortal, and they run an antique store. Ever since Highlander, it seems to be all immortals can do. They are joined by Boris who does odd jobs around the shop. He knew John before he died the last time, and, although he is not dangerous, Boris is also not very sane.
The opening is set in the 1500s with John being arrested and sent to prison by the Spanish Inquisition. This is also your introduction to the mechanics of the game. The game will give you a task to complete or problem, and you will need to use items and your wits to solve them. My tip for new adventurers is to remember that you can inspect other people, and you can inspect yourself as well.
The puzzles and procedures are mostly your standard point and click adventure fare. You can talk to other characters, interact with objects, and add items to your inventory. Those items can also be combined into larger or more complicated tools to solve a puzzle, and the story rolls forward. The great thing is that the game never asks you to hold a useless item for the magical time in the future your character might need it, and your inventory is never limited. If it can be used, it will be used soon.
Maybe, I am not very logical, but this is where I ran into trouble. After picking up items, you need to do something with them, and the game is not always great about giving you clues for what to do next. Even if you did know what to do, your character in the game must also “know” it too as part of the process, even if you have all the necessary ingredients or tools. When you do learn these insights or concepts, often by speaking with other characters, it will show up in your inventory as something that can be used. This can be very frustrating, and I wasted some time just trying to figure out what I was missing when the solution was right in front of me.
Once you understand the game’s logic, it becomes much easier to anticipate what you need to do, but there are still some brute force moments. First, you have to be a kleptomaniac. If you see it, it is yours. Next, try to combine everything in your inventory. Like a pervert at a peepshow, grab and touch everything everywhere to see if you have missed anything. Lastly, talk to everyone and use all the dialogue options. If you learn something new, revisit them and talk about anything else that pops up. This will help you avoid a lot of wasted time, and it will get you back to the story.
The game’s story is slow to unfold in the beginning, but it picks up the pace after a short time. The characters reveal parts of themselves over the game, and, although we learn much about John’s previous lives, there is still an air of mystery. There are some strange choices that feel out-of-place and some plot conveniences, such as how Pauline obtains gold, but it is still an overall solid story for an adventure with an evil villain, a quest, and a sometimes hero.
It is no Uncharted, but the dialogue was another highlight. I enjoyed talking with Boris, and there were times when I was not sure if he was a crazy genius or just crazy. There is also some clever back and forth between two killers later in the game that had me smiling, and I would love to see them in their own game.
The music was another high point for this game, and I was blown away by the variety and quality. “The Redhead’s Melody” is repeated throughout the game, and it really serves as the overall theme. The track “Why” is filled with foreboding, and has building choral swells. “What Happened Yesterday” is an upbeat track that could be on some pop starlet’s early 2000s demo reel. The jazzy “Pauline Petit’s Nth Death” is another musical style that the game seamlessly integrates into its overall sound, and I have actually listened to the soundtrack separately from the game just to hear the music again.
Visually and technically, the game was great. There was one time the icons did not show in a room, but they returned after a quick reload. The stylized graphics are more simplistic, but the bright and fluid animation fit the feeling of the game. They are not trying for photorealism, and the game is better for it.
I was really surprised by Yesterday Origins. Once you understand how the game wants you to think, the puzzles make more sense. The story becomes better as you play the game, the characters grow in-depth, and the music is fantastic. At the end, I was ready to jump into a sequel, and I hope this is not the last we see of John Yesterday.
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* Reviewed on a regular PS4