Developer: Pendulo Studios
Price: $5.49 – Available Here
I tend to approach ports to iOS devices overly critically. Arcade titles, and made-for-console games just don’t feel great on a touch screen device. It’s not just the interface; the whole thing just manages to feel sloppy in one-way or another. It’s like cramming your old television into a box it didn’t come in, it just won’t fit and in the end you just damage the box, the TV and yourself. Okay well, that is a little dramatic. There are of course certain genres that work very well on iOS – particularly on the iPad with it’s larger screen and, most of the time, better quality graphics.
One type of gaming is the adventure game. You explore, point and click, and slowly uncover mysteries along the way. I’ve always had a soft spot for these games, as feelings of nostalgia sweep through my mind, and I remember as a young child trying to navigate the virtual labyrinth that was Myst. Latest in my PC-to-iPad collection is Pendulo Studio’s title, Yesterday. A fitting title given my own subjective experience of the game brought back so many memories of a genre I have long forgotten. As I said, the game was original a PC title, that has already been received quite well here at Capsule Computers. But how does the iPad version hold up? Read on to uncover the mystery.
Replacing the mouse with the player’s own hand tends to work well with adventure games. It worked to some extent with Telltale Game’s Back To The Future franchise, and it damn well works with Pendulo Studio’s Yesterday. The game is essentially a series of static images with interactive hot spots that can be tapped. Unlike other adventure games, there isn’t a need to move the character around. While some people may be put off by the lack of player input, I welcomed the lack of control and the focus on point-and-click mechanics.
The interface sits perfectly on the side of the screen, with buttons to help reveal points of interest, a hint button and most importantly the inventory of collected items. At times the puzzles can be a little tricky, but that is half the fun of the game. You’ll need to combine elements and uncover secrets hidden throughout a series of scenes in order to uncover the mystery-based plot of the game.
Yesterday is the story of one man, John Yesterday. He wakes up from a coma with no memories, only a series of clues in which to uncover a forgotten past. The game takes place through multiple flash backs into the memories of not just John Yesterday, but also a series of other characters. Without giving too much away, the story revolves around the investigation into a Satanic cult, and also the attempted suicide of the protagonist, John. The story isn’t too long, it shouldn’t take you long to play through it all. But it is engaging, you become engrossed in finding out answers, as more questions appear and you delve further into the memories of John Yesterday in an attempt to answer these questions. If you are the type who needs to compare a mobile game worth against PC/console games, then think of it this way. Yesterday has the same quality story as a PC game, but can be played anywhere, allowing you to hop in and out of the story whenever you feel like it.
I found the visual style of Yesterday particularly engrossing. Although this comes as no surprise. iPad games are progressively becoming more and more sophisticated in terms of graphics. Each scene is created with a fantastic amount of atmosphere, with different locations all having a unique look and feel. I was also impressed by the animation in scenes that involve dialogue. Also, the use of comic book style panels to illustrate attention to certain objects when they are in use or if a conversation was taking place. Nice subtle animations keep the scenes from looking static. The only issue I had with the graphics is towards the end of the game, the background, some objects, and even a whole animated dialogue box appeared as blank. I was a little concerned at first, hoping this wouldn’t continue into the end of the game. I shut down the game completely, re-opened it and was back on track in the exact same spot. I should also note, this is the one time during the course of playing that I actually shut the game down. It’s hard to not want to progress further and further.
The audio at times can be a little dull. There are moments where all you will hear is the sound of your own footsteps and some random sound effects. For the most part however, there is an ominous soundtrack that runs through the game, which is rather fitting given the title’s satanic themes. Similarly, the voice acting matches the characters well, and isn’t as cheesy as you’d expect, it being an iPad game after all. Overall the audio works well with building the games atmosphere, and doesn’t draw too much attention away from your goals – allowing you to focus on the environment and search for clues.
Despite graphically issues, the game is very hard to get away from. It does start a little slow, but once you leave that first section of the story the plot draws you in. There were a few times were the search for clues became overbearing and I had to put the game down for some time. But that is the beauty of having the game on the iPad, I can just put my device to sleep and pick up where I left off wherever I want. There is a great attention to detail, and as I have explained, I have a soft spot for these types of adventure games. Chances are, after giving Yesterday a try; you will develop a soft spot for adventure games too.