Adventure games are a dying breed it seems so it has been nice to see a few more appearing on the market in recent years, mainly for my own benefit of course, but if the world at large enjoys them as well then all the better.
Yesterday Origins is the sequel to Yesterday, an adventure game that was purely available on PC and IOS, but mercifully it's not a direct sequel in terms of story - as it chooses to focus on only one of the protagonists of that game, John Yesterday. So if you've never heard of the original you can still enjoy the sequel as it's very much its own story.
The plot takes in a range of eras and subplots which is both on of the games main strengths, as well as being somewhat of a burden when it comes to trying to wrap your head around the various plot points and loose ends. In simple terms we see John Yesterday from the past, tangled up with the Spanish Inquisition, a mysterious cult and some bizarre rituals, all the way to present day along with his also immortal girlfriend, kooky friend and a blast from the past.
It's rollicking stuff and builds to a suitable denouement, though I did feel like there were a few areas that felt unexplained or hazy. You never found out why John's girlfriedn was immortal, for example, or if it was mentioned it must have been in passing. One of the antagonists has a bizarre shift from placid to rude - never explained. John's weird friend Boris has an odd manner and backstory, but again you find out very little. Maybe all of this was covered in the first game but it does start to rankle after a while.
Gameplay is the usual adventure fare but with a few twists. Each area has puzzles to solve, items to find and people to chat with. Uniquely you can often examine specific areas and people to uncover clues which, whilst not items per se, you can then use to open up new avenues to explore or give John the impetus to pull off a certain solution. It's a fun idea and one that sees you gaining as much intel from examining people as you do from interrogating them.
Puzzles never feel too tricky either, as each area is self contained and if you take the time to scour them properly for items and clues you shouldn't remain stuck for long. There are still a few head scratching moments, as you would expect, but they never stray into being frustrating. Though there are times when you can miss items due to the finicky controls on consoles. Items pop up when you are close by, then you can flick between them, but there is no way to highlight all objects of interest on screen (unless you play on PC) which makes it easy to miss some items if you aren't stood in exactly the right spot.
The look and feel of the game is wonderfully realised, and this feels like an adventure game that knows what it's doing and builds open a bunch of titles that have come before. The story is serious, but with enough humour and charm to make the characters likeable and interesting. It helps that the voicework is well done and the main story beats stand out, as they smooth over the odd hiccup when the story feels a little forced.
Yesterday Origins is a well crafted adventure that is surely worth your time, at times the plot gets a little murky, and some of the characters don't feel as fleshed out as they could be, but on the whole it strikes a good balance between a compelling story and tightly constructed puzzles. It's a finely tuned adventure game that is sure to entertain and enlighten in equal measure.