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Yesterday Origins

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: Microïds
Developer: Pendulo Studio
Release Date: Nov. 17, 2016


PS4 Review - 'Yesterday Origins'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Dec. 7, 2016 @ 12:00 a.m. PST

Yesterday Origins is a point-and-click adventure game that continues the adventures of its hero, John Yesterday, simultaneously with the events that link the modern times with events from the Spanish Inquisition period.

Buy Yesterday Origins

Immortality is a superpower that sounds great on paper. Who wouldn't want to live forever? The downside is that you outlive friends, family and the world you knew. That is part of what makes the concept so engaging for stories. What would today's world look like to someone from the 1400s? Yesterday Origins is a game about that concept. The sequel to the relatively niche puzzle/adventure game Yesterday, it delves deeper into the secret history of immortals and what a never-ending life would mean.

In particular, Yesterday Origins follows the adventure of John Yesterday, who's immortal. An experiment performed upon him 500 years ago transformed him into an undying being with one significant flaw: Every time he would die, he's resurrected at the same age he was when he first became immortal, but with none of the memories he should have. As you can imagine, this puts a damper on his immortality, especially since his love interest Pauline got a better version of immortality without the drawbacks. In order to figure out how to fix his flawed immortality, John sets off on a quest to find a mystical artifact that can resolve his problem. If it were that easy to become truly immortal, it wouldn't be a challenge, would it? John's quest will take him from the day he was transformed to modern day, and not everyone is eager to help him.

In some ways, the Yesterday Origins plot is very cool. I enjoy the idea of immortal characters across the ages, but it's not a time travel plot so much as a mystery that happens to be set from the 1400s to modern day. The game doesn't shy away from exploring its characters' immortality, and it excels at wry and dark humor. It isn't exactly a laugh a minute, but it knows what it's going for and hits the mark. I love the concept of immortal protagonists who treat their gift as mundane.

However, the plot felt muddled to me. For the subject matter, the humor is too silly in some places and too serious in others. This is a relatively minor complaint, and most of the tone issues are attributed to the side characters. Despite the dark nature of the story, it's widely accessible and good for all ages, aside from a few moments with occasional swearing or risqué language. It's a shame because those moments feel out of place. I also felt the characters were stronger than the plot. I didn't care too much about the McGuffin I was sent to find, but I did want the characters to be happy and healthy.

Yesterday Origins is almost entirely a traditional point-and-click adventure game. You're able to wander around the various environments searching for clues and valuable items. If you've ever played a game in the click-and-point genre, you know pretty much what to expect. There is very little action or direct danger, and the mystery goes at its own pace. You'll spend a lot of time exploring your environments for hints about where to go next, clues about the history of various characters, and items that you can use. The interface is friendly enough that you'll rarely need to perform excess clicks or remember minor details. (This may be a positive or negative, depending on whether you feel the game is holding your hand too much.)

Unfortunately, the puzzles are the least engaging part of Yesterday Origins. The puzzles that are likely to trip you up are where the solution is too obtuse to understand. It's a staple of the genre and probably won't bother anyone who grew up playing adventure games, but it can lead to it feeling very repetitive. By and large, the puzzle solutions are reasonable once you figure them out. As with an old-school adventure game, it might be better to keep a walkthrough open just in case you get stuck. There's little build-up in the puzzles, and most items are used ASAP. That isn't a huge problem, but it makes the pacing feel off at times.

The game is enjoyable to play. The controls are solid for a console-based adventure title, and some of the puzzles are fun to solve. The game is very standard for the genre, and there are no nagging flaws. The puzzles are too simple to merit playing the game just for the puzzles, so what you're really here for is the plot.

The only other issue with the game is the price tag. There's a lot of fun content here, but the $40 price tag feels too high, especially compared to other similar adventure games. You can pick up a Telltale franchise for half the price. It depends on how engaged you are with the story, and it's very easy to see a full trip through Yesterday Origins to be worth the cost if you're an adventure game aficionado. Anyone who's unsure may want to wait for a sale. It would be easy to recommend at $20.

The PlayStation 4 version of Yesterday Origins is good most of the time. The comic book art style looks fantastic and adds a lot of style and flair to the experience. The character models are basic, and there were a noticeable number of minor graphic flaws, such as poor lip-syncing, which dragged things down. It also seemed slightly unstable, and I encountered several freezes while playing the game. Due to the nature of the title, it's mostly a restart and a minor setback rather than anything that ruins the game, but it's still disappointing. The soundtrack is quite good, with a variety of songs that set the mood for almost every environment. Less reliable is voice acting, which is all over the place. Some actors hit their marks, and others pull you out of the story. Fortunately, most of the main acting is good, so there are no complaints there.

Yesterday Origins is a by-the-numbers adventure game that hits all of the marks with reliable accuracy. It doesn't reinvent the wheel, and the puzzles are standard and are occasionally veer difficult for the wrong reasons. The story is elevated by some distinct concepts and strong character writing. It's worth a try just to see how immortals deal with the problem of aging.

Score: 7.5/10

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