RGM Reviews: Yesterday Origins – An interesting and unique idea, executed a little lazily

Yesterday Origins is a point and click adventure, shrouded in interesting and unique mystery, and with a story deeply rooted in great history and the occult.I played it on PS4, and it took around seven hours to complete. Yesterday Origins comes from Pendulo Studios and is a sequel to Yesterday. It was released on November 10th.

The story is set at various points in time, beginning with John Yesterday’s incarceration (before he was known as John Yesterday) during the Spanish Inquisition in 1481, followed by his rescue by a monk, who soon reveals the truth about his intentions; to become immortal. The monk believes John to be the son of Satan, and hopes to keep the young man by his side through the ages; presumably as a ticket into Satan’s good books.

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This timeline is juxtaposed with the present day, in which it is obvious that at some point, John was successful, but lost his mentor. On the way, he has fallen in love, and his girlfriend, Pauline, has also chosen to become immortal with him.

As the story unfolds, a huge web of mystery is weaved, with the idea that if John dies, when he comes back, he cannot remember anything. His life is written out for him on a webpage, and in journals and pictures, and I guess after having to deal with it so often, he’s sort of gotten used to it.

John and Pauline own an antiques dealership in Paris, and are looking to sell an old Japanese statue to a very rich British heiress, which will mean that they are able to pay off debts left behind by Pauline’s father. John’s best friend Boris has suffered emotional trauma in the past, during a previous life of John’s, and his mental stability is a little wavy as a result. We also meet a friend of Pauline’s from when she was involved with an all-female hacker network. So, the characters are really interesting and diverse. This makes for some great and humorous dialogue, and plenty of twists and turns. The relationship between John and Pauline can be a little brash and high tension, but their chemistry is pretty good, even considering the cartoon art-style, you really feel as though they know each other, and have seen a lot together. I found it hard to like Pauline’s character, however.

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I won’t give away any more of the story, but there are some plot holes and questions unanswered, plus the ending raised an eyebrow. However, I haven’t played the first title, and hadn’t even heard of it, in all honesty, so I can’t say if some of the supposed plot holes had actually led on from the previous game. However, there really should be an explanation or recap if this is the case.

The gameplay is a pretty standard point and click, featuring puzzles and dialogue options. Most of the gameplay is solid, though there are moments where the ol’ use-everything-combine-everything technique comes into play. That’s to be expected though, and can give some amusing tidbits of dialogue. However, there is the odd occasion in which essential plot continuation depends on highlighting a certain item that is hard to get to thanks to an awkward control system. I played on the PS4, but from Steam reviews it seems that mouse control is even worse at times.

Puzzles range from the bizarre, where the answer is a question of chance, and to the downright obvious, where the items and clue mechanic holds your hand a little too much, and won’t let you continue until you lay it all out in literal boxes, which can be frustrating.

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Towards the end of the game, bugs and awkward controls become more evident, as if the playtesters got bored or something, but this could be a PS4 thing. During one puzzle, the controls would scroll through my inventory, rather than moving the object I was holding, thanks to the placement of the items on the screen.

In terms of the art design, I have to say that I’m not a fan. It’s a typical cartoon-style for a point and click, and the painted backgrounds are fun, but the shading is off, and the character’s faces have way over-exaggerated features, which make them rather ugly. All in all it seems a little bit lazy, and the set pieces are all quite enclosed, including the ones outside. There isn’t much depth, but some of the details are nice to look at.

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The music was really off-putting, and I’d even go as far as to say broken. Sound effects were fine, but it seemed as though music would be triggered by looking at certain things, or being in certain places. This is not unusual, of course, but some of it is so sudden and loud, and there are parts that skip, which is a big distraction. Then, it’s gone as quickly as it came, and there is silence. Again, this could be a PS4 issue, but it was not enjoyable.

There are plenty of trophies/achievements, so there is some replay value, however, I don’t think I’ll give it another go. Trophy hunters can take their time; most are gained by interactions and dialogue, though there is an achievement for doing a speedrun as well.

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Overall, the game has some really interesting and original story elements, and I personally love anything occult and mysterious, especially when history is involved. For that, and for some of the voice acting, I liked it. I was keen to see how the story progressed, and ultimately ended. However, there were unanswered questions, and they left me frustrated, rather than keen to see another sequel. There were problems with some of the gameplay, and the music was bad; plus, I didn’t like the character models, but I can see why it’s had some good reviews from players. I only hope that if there is another title, that they fix the bugs with music, and refine the stories a little more.