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Review of Yesterday by MoonBird

Stars - 15

Rating by MoonBird posted on May 19, 2012 | edit | delete


Not the sharpest pencil in the case.


Pendulo Studios should be familiar to everyone, who has been around with adventure-releated business, as we are talking about a creator of Igor: Objective Uikokahonia (which by the way is missing from your database!), Runaway 1,2 and 3 as well as The Next BIG thing. After these so-called “lighter and brighter” games we get a little more darker and sinister world, as Pendulo introduces us to the game named Yesterday. Style is Pendulo allright, although there are some new kind of elements involved. In the last couple of games, Pendulo has suffered from some kind of annoying edginess in the character models and background graphics, and unfortunately same thing is present here. Howerer, concerning the graphical side of the game as a whole, we are talking about rather nice experience, nonetheless.

The musical score is quite nice, although there are moments when the voice-acting tends to be drown beneath the orchestral thunder. This is a massive problem, since the speech-volume cannot be adjusted separately. The game has only one volume-knob. That is a definite mention in the cons-section.

Talking about the voice-acting, I have some good news, but unfortunately some bad news too. Let’s start with a good ones. Yesterday includes a brilliant voice-acting to every single character in the gameworld. There’s no weak performances. So what could possibly go wrong? Well for one thing: The voice-acting covers the dialoques. Only. Scene-descriptions and everything else is plain text. With an absolute silence of a Sunday evening in the wolly-hat-factory. Sound effetcs are ok in my book, nothing spectacular, but nothing bad either.

Interface is rather succesful one. Although the game-saving process is a little too difficult and complex. The volume-issues with voice and music mentioned earlier are - of course - an interface issue too. Unlike so many other players i’ve talked to, I really liked the new inventory. I thought it was easy to use, plain, and simple. Hint-system is impressively well done in this game.

The atmosphere of Yesterday is ok, I think. The story is rather good, but there are some moments when it really gets simply uninteresting. The music and certain abandoned-like environments are the thing that kept me playing and helped me over the not-so-exciting story points. However I thought the plot was way too confusing and so numbing with a religious passion and “endless life” -cliches that it really just did not manage to carry the whole thing to the end.

I just don’t know what has striked the Pendulo Studios. Is it a laziness or what, but the character animations are practically nonexistent. Characters teleport from one place to another even when it’s completely unnecessary and it really wakes a primal fury in you to throw your game in the dephts of hell and hope that it will burn so completely that the developers would forget it never existed. When the character is left still, there is absolutely no animation. It is simply a paper doll. It doesn’t move its arms, legs, eyebrows, mouth, ... nothing. It just stands there like a block of wood. Un-for-give-ab-le.

Technically speaking, the game is quite good. There were some cases, where you had to click to get the text forward, and then there were autoscrolling in some points. It was quite an annoyance, as it means that you can accidentally click the autoscrolling text with a result of a missing sentences and possibly an important clue amongst them. There were no major bugs, but one time I experienced a missing cursor. However after a while, it got back in the screen magically. Not quite perfectly tehcnically polished, but on the other hand, nothing big to moan about.

There’s one complainment that is clearly the biggest one. The shortness. I’ve got a feeling, that one year after another, we see shorter and shorter games from Pendulo. Runaway-series reflects this thing very well: It’s length has decreased steadily from 1 to 3 and with this game, pendulo has finally hit the rock-bottom. Had the game been any shorter, I could have stated without exaggerating at all, that I have played longer demos than Yesterday. At least half more to it’s length, and we would have been talking about tolerable amount of playing time. And oh yeah.. the easyness doesn’t exactly help there.

The dialoques are bearable, but the bad translation issues abound here and there. The lack of voice-acting in the descriptions is one thing that reduces the joy a little. On the other hand the descriptions are written in the good old “you see this - you do that” - format. Rather cool, and oldschool. Once again: Not enough to write home about, but simply just above bearable. The earlier mentioned - partly automatic dialoque scrolling is also quite rage-inducing.

Intro is acceptable, but doesn’t strike very deep. An idea about the homeless people in the beginning is an excellent hook, but unfortunately the story manages skips that subject almost perfectly. A real shame. In a way, intro promises you some things the game doesn’t actually have. That’s not very nice, Pendulo!

Dying in the game is not possible, and you cannot make irreversible actions, either.

SUMMARY

Pendulo Studios has clearly started to slip in its soapy way. Before I even played this game myself, some details in the trailers and videos got me strongly worried. It’s a simple conclusion, that Yesterday isn’t very good game. It has some improvements over the earlier games, however, and in fact they saved the game from a total catastrohe. Pros-section contains only 4 keypoints, whereas con-section is sadly much longer: 10 keypoints. And they were also major ones, allright.

+ Voice acting is great in the parts that it exists
+ Inventory is a massive improvement
+ Pendulo has finally fixed the awful dialoque-trees
+ Hint-system is ingenious!

- Did I get a demo? Was this really a whole game? WAY. TOO. SHORT.
- Voice-acting only in the dialoques
- Character animations are not good, nor they are bad: they are NONEXISTENT.
- Hotspot names are missing, which leads to random clicking
- Too much attacking mini-windows in the screen
- Translation issues. For example: “When you pulling the suitcase” ...ewh..
- Music attacks over the voice acting and throws it down the Niagara falls. Only one volume-setting in the whole game
- Asynchronization between text and voice-acting
- Small assortment of little bugs in the speech pack (sentences are partly double-played sometimes)
- Plot is too confusing
- Raving about the spiritual world is really annoying.

I really hope that if Pendulo still continues to make games, they put the aim a little bit higher. These kind of brain-farts - where voice-acting is only partly done, character animations are practically nonexistent, hotspots are left without a name, a little mini-windows pop up in the screen like junk mail, and to top it all: translations are unforgivably bad, coupled with a broken font here and there - should be left undone. Let’s really, really hope better luck next time. Play Yesterday with your own risk. I can’t recommend.


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Time Played: 1-2 hours

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