Genre:   Adventure

Developer:   Pendulo Studios

Publisher:    Focus Interactive

Released:  March 2012

PC Requirements:  



  • RAM: 1024 MB (XP)/2048 MB (VISTA/7)


  • HDD: 4 GB

Additional screenshots   Walkthrough



by flotsam


Remember Runaway? The Next BIG Thing? Or even the Spanish language Hollywood Monsters? Fun, comedic animated adventures every one. All of them Pendulo creations. So now we have Yesterday, and more of the same.

Except we don’t.

Same is big, bright, beautifully animated, character rich and story driven. Same is point and click, inventory based, and conundrums a plenty.

Different is macabre, torture, Satan and multiple deaths. And a little sex.

Kudos to Pendulo for daring to be different. Kudos too for pulling it off.

The opening montage leaves you in no doubt about the difference. If the slightly chilling whistling doesn’t do it, the scream will. Assuming of course the visuals didn’t already. Or the buzzing flies, or the beating heart. It’s a strong start.


Someone is killing the homeless, but the charity work of Les Enfants de Don Quichotte must go on. First stop for Henry White and his volunteer friend Samuel Cooper is Cadway Station. Disused and derelict, you suspect Henry shouldn’t go in. But he does, and you were right, and it gets a little weird and then it belts you with a twist.

One year later and following a hospitalisation he doesn’t remember, all John Yesterday knows is what others can tell him. He was investigating satanic cults in Paris, he tried to commit suicide, he was looked after. A return to Paris starts to trigger memories, flashes here and there, and so we start to unwind the knotted rope that is John Yesterday’s tale.

It ends in a choice – three in fact – and not all of them good. You can play them all and make sure you watch the final scene after the credits. One in particular provides the perfect full stop. There is also an Easter Egg ending, assuming you find the right item and use it appropriately. Pendulo is not above laughing at itself.

The six to eight hours in between flit back and forth between John now and his past memories, and a variety of locations. You learn a lot about John, none of it ordinary. It can be a little confusing, but be patient as it comes together. As it does, suspend your disbelief and just go with it.

Yesterday is delivered with a panache and style that alone makes it worth playing. Comic book panels punctuate the production, from single frames in which you examine objects to pastiche “cutscenes” of certain events. More conventional cutscenes play too, and there are a number of other animation effects which add a little something to the mix. Game scenes are richly drawn, and despite the grimy nature of the plot, it unmistakeably looks Pendulo. Which is a very good thing.

The little things make a difference. The flickering candles, the pendulum you can set swinging, the steam on the mirror. There is not a lot of “background” movement in the game world, but what there is makes an impression, and at no time do things seem stodgy or lifeless.

The sound palette is excellent, and the musical score particularly well used. I often turn that right down, or even off, when given the opportunity. But here it adds lustre, and even a cinematic feel at times.

There are some new touches in Yesterday, best among them the movement of the characters. Click on the environment and John (or one of the other characters you get to occasionally play) will walk there; click on a hotspot and John will “jump” to that spot and interact with it. He kind of fades out in one place and fades back in at the hotspot. It sounds odd but it isn’t, and I loved not having to take the long walk across the room or double click to make him run. More of this in games, please.

New too is a hint system that nudges you where you need to go, but is then only available again after a little time has passed. Try it too soon and it will tell you something like “try a few things first”. I used it sporadically, as the game is not too hard, and it ensures that the narrative continues to flow. Some may think Yesterday is a little easy, but I thought it struck a good balance between doing things and keeping things moving.

Like all such games, there are those “why on earth would I think to do that” interactions, but they are mercifully few. Of course, the fact that I wouldn’t think to do it doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t. But on any objective scale, some are a little obtuse.

Interestingly, there is no voice acting in the scene descriptions. Clicking on items and hotspots will generate written descriptions, some quite detailed, all of it to be read. I thought it fitted in well, and was akin to the character having thoughts about what was being looked at or achieved, as opposed to talking out loud to himself. Some players though might feel a little short-changed.

Using or examining inventory items is a little jittery, and there were times I “examined” when I wanted to “use”, but it’s a relatively simple and trouble-free interface. Almost everything is done with the left mouse, the right mouse being used only (to my recollection) for exiting a “close-up” window and putting inventory items away. Examining a hotspot or inventory item will open a window, with icons appearing within that window to enable further actions. Dragging items from the inventory ribbon allows you to use them in the game world or on each other. Not everything you collect will be used, and chapter changes will tend to empty unnecessary items.

There is an icon to reveal hotspots, which causes them to twinkle briefly, and which you might need to poke more than once in order to register them all. Some hotspots are quite small, and I did use the icon a number of times. It will identify the exits too.

Another icon gives access to some basic gameplay information, and a little star icon opens the autosave screen. I wasn’t even aware the game was autosaving, but by the end there were about 10 or 11 of them by memory. Apart from these autosaves, the only save function is when you exit the game, which is actually all you need. Don’t panic when it doesn’t ask you to save before exiting – it will happen – and you automatically return to that point next time you play.


Don’t panic either if you didn’t exit close to the end of the game. One of the autosaves occurs just before the point at which you choose how to conclude the game, enabling you to easily access the various conclusions. Just restart, and then access the autosave icon.

So much for the mechanics. The heart and tormented soul of this game is the story, and the characters that drive it. The only one I could have done without was Pauline, a love interest that really wasn’t necessary, and all the more disappointing after the incredibly wonderful Liz Allaire in The Next BIG Thing. The rest though had the right mix of madness or stoicism, depending upon their nature, and the voice acting was solid and suited to the characters throughout. They also anchor the events in the madness of men, which is where it belongs.

There is some language – not a lot of it – but colourful nonetheless, and some rather graphic torture suggestions in one of the endings. There is also violence (and occasionally torture) depicted or suggested throughout, so be warned if those things offend or are not to your taste.

There is some humour as well, largely in the form of certain characters – Albert the desk clerk and blind master Adirf come to mind. And there is the occasional gem to be found elsewhere (check out the Happy Dale sign and make sure to examine the civil war picture in the antique shop). The Poet of Pain also makes a brief self-deprecating appearance, albeit in a different form.

Yesterday can be over-the-top, and it bucks and weaves its way along. Its mood can swing dramatically, making it a little jarring but all the more powerful as a result. It grabbed me from the start, and left me well pleased. It’s a worthy addition to the Pendulo stable, and may there be more of them.


I played on:

OS: Windows 7

Processor: AMD Phenom 9500 Quad Core CPU 2.2 GHz

Ram: 4.00GB DDR2 400MHz

Gx card: ATI Radeon HD 3850 512Mb


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