Mobile Game of the Week: Yesterday (iOS)

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Mobile Game of the Week: Yesterday (iOS)


Platform: iOS
Developer: Pendulo Studios
Publisher: Bulkypix
Release Date: 6/29/2012
Price: $4.99

Yesterday is a tried-and-true point and click adventure game. No genre-bending, no mashups—just classic adventure goodness. The game is pretty much what you’d expect from Pendulo Studios’ past adventure titles: a lot of text to read, items to pick up, and environmental puzzles to solve. In their newest game though Pendulo uses a fantastic comic book style presentation that works really with both the genre and the darker, more sophisticated tone of the story. You play (primarily) as John Yesterday, an amnesiac who is trying to connect his own mysterious past with the recent killing spree of a psycho-killer and his research of a 16th century Satanic sect of the Catholic Church. In other words, it’s more Heavy Rain than it is Escape from Monkey Island.

Speaking of the puzzles themselves, Yesterday unfortunately trips up in some of the age-old traps that has garnered the genre a bad reputation in the eyes of many. The game will sometimes expect you to explore an environment with little direction and no discernible mission. As is also typical in adventure games, along the way you’ll pick up plenty of items that don’t seem to do much until you magically combine them together MacGyver-style. The good news is that I found Yesterday’s pace of difficulty to be incredibly balanced. After all, if an adventure game doesn’t leave you scratching your head at least a few times, it’s not doing its job properly. The hint system manages to help you out when you need it without giving away too much. But let’s get real: Yesterday is all about the story.

yesterday screen.jpg

Yesterday quickly establishes itself as an “adult thriller” that isn’t afraid to be dark and even gruesome. For the most part, it’s a great contrast to the silly slapstick comedies the genre is known for. However, the story tends to play out through a series of environmental puzzles that jump across time periods, flashbacks and continents at a blistering pace. Add in the fact that your main character has some uncanny supernatural abilities and you’ve got a narrative that is as hard to follow as it is easy to get lost in. After spending ten or fifteen minutes in a flashback scene, I often found myself forgetting what time period I was in and why I was there. As I opened up more and more pieces of John Yesterday’s scrambled memory, I often found myself wondering if even Pendulo Studios has that good of a grasp on who this mysterious character was.

Fortunately, when the game sticks to its interest in alchemy and the occult, it’s hard to put down. The surprisingly violent cutscenes and beautifully drawn backdrops fill each scene with mystery, drawing inspiration from the best of gnostic fiction. The game plays out like an arc from a Dan Brown novel—convoluted, flawed and factually inept, but undeniably thrilling at just about every turn.