The space could have been limiting. It could have felt dank and claustrophobic, destroying any desire to explore any of its confined spaces. But it wasn't. The crumbling subway station felt full of mystery for such a relatively tight space, stuffed with mannequins, broken pedestrian wares, boxes of stuffed animals and other children's toys; plenty for the characters, including main protagonist Henry White, to pick up, combine and break.
Henry himself is an intriguing character -- a veritable nerdy, ginger genius and heir to a large fortune, he volunteers for a charity that helps homeless people in New York City. He and his blundering-giant friend, Sam Cooper, set out to investigate a series of strange disappearances within the "home challenged" community, possibly connected to the strange Y-shaped scars that are appearing on random people's palms.
Physically, Henry appears harmless, with bright orange hair, freckles and thick-rimmed glasses, but his intelligence gives way to a darker side that may belie more than mere cockiness, especially when compared with the delusions of the game's other, textbook-psychotic characters.
There are three playable characters in Yesterday
-- Henry, Cooper and John Yesterday, a man with no memory -- but I only had the chance to play as Henry and Cooper. The puzzles were engaging without being obvious, calling on the player to see each item in different ways, and at times asking for patience and deep contemplation. Most of them I solved in five minutes or less, but a few had me stumbling around the subway station for 10, 15 minutes at a time, wondering how on Earth I was supposed to combine a purple plastic piano and an action figure to make a phone call from a busted payphone. I assure you, it is possible.
Pendulo knows how to make a point-and-click adventure though, and quality puzzles are to be expected. Where Yesterday
really shines is in its promise to be a dark thriller.
In the subway channel I met Choke, a homicidal madman with a messiah complex who leads a congregation of surprisingly lively mannequins, as well as the distraught homeless man. Choke is almost mystical, magical, and is just as intelligent as Henry, contributing to the questions about our protagonist's own sanity. Choke vows to kill Henry, but in a series of events involving Cooper's background as a failed boy scout, Yesterday
Henry is forced to discuss the details of the homeless man's former, financially successful life, and watch as he replays receiving the phone call about his son's death, over and over and over, and his thoughts often trailing off into heart-breaking "happy birthday" wishes. One f-bomb and a dick stomp later, and the playable time ended on a cliffhanger that left me aching to play more.Yesterday
confronts death, greed, loss and insanity all within one crumbling subway station; imagine what the rest of the game might encompass.