It’s been a long time since I played a classic point and click adventure. Sure an argument could be made that Telltales games are point and click games, and maybe you would be right. But Yesterday Origins feels different. It has moments of Telltale in it but also has similarities to such classics as Zork, especially the way it provides descriptions based on what you pick up and the fact you can choose what to say and do. The game is odd, but in a really good way.
Yesterday Origins has a very strong plot, an essential part of a point and click game. Without giving much away, the game focuses on the story of John Yesterday, a man from the Spanish Inquisition. He is accused of being the Devils son essentially because of his intelligence and ability to speak multiple languages. Luckily, that will never be an issue for me. The twist here is somehow he is made immortal, every time he dies he comes back to life at the age he was made immortal. John goes on to live a very long and eventful life, unfortunately he seems to not remember most of it. This plot point allows the game to take place across multiple time periods to unravel the mystery of John’s life. However you do not just see life through John’s weary eyes. The game switches up the characters you play as, whether its’s the other immortal character Pauline, or other characters from different time periods. The multiple playable characters help the game thrive, whether it’s just seeing things from a different perspective or using the ability to switch between John and Pauline to solve various puzzles.
Puzzles make up the heart of Yesterday Origins. Like any good point and click adventure you need to fully explore the area, finding various objects or learning pieces of information to assist you. You slowly move around the area, interacting with a large range of objects, picking things up that seem pointless at the time, but will certainly become important later. It requires some serious thinking to solve some of these puzzles. The game gives you the odd hint from time to time, but you certainly need to put the effort in if you want to complete Yesterday Origins. Without cheating and using walk-throughs that is. A more modern audience, ones that didn’t grow up with point and click adventures may find the game particularly challenging. I know I have mentioned them a great deal already, but even the most well-known modern point and click games, which is pretty much Telltales whole library, offers nothing close to what Yesterday Origins throws at you. I for one particularly enjoyed this, it’s what I am used to for a game like this, but it’s worth mentioning non-point and click aficionados may disagree. It’s not just finding objects that’s the key to success, you need to figure out how to combine that with other objects or pieces of information. The game has a very simple inventory system. On the left you store all the items you pick up and on the right any information you have learned. You can combine multiple objects and information together to create/find something you need, to use it during a conversation or use it on yourself. Sometimes the object you pick up is hiding something you actually need. When exploring the world or picking up an item you can examine different parts of what you are looking at by moving the right stick and using ‘X’ to interact. You will find yourself in situations where you think you picked up everything the area possibly has to offer only to realize what you need is hidden in an item you picked up ages ago.
The presentation itself is extremely well done. One of the very first notes I made was “awesome art style and presentation”. Whether it’s the comic book like text boxes or the windows that pop in and it, it’s all just really cool to look at, even if it’s not particularly ground breaking or new. Sure, the characters look a little rough, the art style is hardly breath-taking, but it doesn’t need to be. It’s nice to look at, colorful and there is a great detail to attention. The world really feels alive and if I am honest I am relieved to be able to say this. If you can’t tell this far into the review, I think the game is pretty good. The two biggest factors in my opinion to making a good point and click game is a great story and a world that feels alive. Without these two a point and click game simply cannot get a good review. So yeah, I am pretty happy they got this right. I really enjoyed seeing what the world the developers created had to offer, especially when they had multiple time periods to get right. The way the game presents its characters also had me intrigued. Sure some are better than others, but I was interested to see what each new character would bring. Some characters are just damn right crazy. I am looking at you Boris. Yesterday Origins features an odd and sometimes dark humor. I really want to talk about my favorite example of this but I think its best I don’t so you can experience it first-hand. Just look for it early on in the game, in the modern-day section. You can also find some nice little touches in Yesterday Origins such as the use of the controller’s speaker. Why do games not use that feature more? I really get a kick out of it.
There are a few issues scattered throughout the game. Nothing game breaking, or even particularly bothersome but I noticed them none the less. For example I got stuck in the menu system at one point. I could not select anything and had to hard quit out and restart the game. Another more noticeable issue is at one point in the game the audio repeats itself. Clearly you can tell it’s not a big deal, but that and some other small bugs and glitches take you out the experience. A quick patch could fix these issues, but you should be aware of it going in. The reader should always know if there is any technical issues, no matter how minor. I promise I am not being overly picky.
Yesterday Origins is a great game. With its detailed description and feedback based on your interaction, similar to Zork, and nice style and presentation I certainly thought the game is worth people’s time and attention. It nails everything it needs to and it was nice to take a break from all the shooting and open world games to play something simpler but also very much fun. Unfortunately the story has some slightly slow moments and there are some technical issues but if you are a fan of the point and click genre, you won’t be disappointed by what you find here. How can you not enjoy anything that’s similar to Zork?!
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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