Don't you just hate it when you make a mental note of something you need to do, only for it to have totally disappeared from your head come the morning? With a memory like a sieve, and a terrible habit of getting our best ideas in the moments before we fall asleep, it's a situation we know all too well. In fact, we've recently decided to get a bit more proactive, and started trying to jot them down on our phone before we nod off - although even then, we end up forgetting to check what we wrote the following day. Fortunately though, while we may be more than a little forgetful, we're nowhere near as bad as a certain John Yesterday, whose amnesia has taken quite a toll on his half a millenium lifespan.
Yesterday Origins is a point and click adventure that follows the story of John Yesterday, a guy with one heck of a pointy chin, and a deep, dark secret. When a satanic ritual backfired some 500 years ago, John ended up being somehow blessed with immortality - but not being able to die has come with its own set of drawbacks, as each time he resurrects, he ends up losing his memories. Haunted by nightmarish visions of his past lives, John and girlfriend Pauline (a non-amnesiac immortal) set out to try and get to the bottom of what happened all those years ago, and locate a mysterious artefact that's key to fixing John's memory loss. What follows is a globe-trotting point and click adventure that takes in everything from medieval Spain to present day New York, as you try to piece together John's missing memories.
Following the familiar point and click formula, most of your time in Yesterday Origins will be spent exploring areas, hunting out useful items and chatting with other characters to try and eke out any useful information you can, all of which will come in handy for solving the game's many, many puzzles. While similar games will generally see you picking up anything that isn't nailed down, before later trying to combine everything with everything else to solve obscure puzzles, Yesterday Origins adds an extra layer to the proceedings by seeing you accumulate important pieces of information too. Certain puzzles will then ask you about why you've decided to wipe a hallucinogenic toad around the inside of a tankard (the answer is to fool the superstitious guard), and you'll need to pick the right piece of information to be able to proceed. Effectively asking you to show your working, it certainly adds an an extra layer of logic to the game's puzzles. And while you might hope it'll cut down on the amount of times you'll spend hopelessly combining inventory items in the hope something sticks, you'd be wrong. We actually found ourselves combining both inventory items AND information at random instead.
As an example of how this all works, fairly early on in the game, we found ourselves in John and Pauline's apartment, as he sits haunted by a dream of his time spent a 15th Century Spanish prison (a portion of the game we covered in our preview), and she's in the bathroom in the middle of her morning routine. Concerned by the wrinkles she sees in the mirror, she decides on what is perhaps the most extreme beauty treatment we've come across in all our years of reading womens' magazines. Picking up a pot of anti-ageing cream from a bathroom shelf, we open it to find a single bullet embedded in the thick cream; we also come across a travel hair dryer and a bottle of hairspray, which, when examined, reveal they can be opened to reveal a handgun and a silencer, respectively. No prizes for guessing what's going on here - it's a simple case of combining the gun, silencer and bullet to form a lethal combination, but still, something's missing here. Before you can pull the trigger, you'll want to find somewhere easier to clean up. When you try to use the gun in the shower, the game asks you why Pauline would want to do such a thing - combining it with the information we gathered about her wrinkles, you've solved her ageing problem in one fatal blow. Thankfully, John's not the only immortal around here.
Throughout Yesterday Origins, you'll be returning to many of John Yesterday's past memories, many of which take place in centuries gone by. For example, fairly early on in the game, we met up with a pre-immortal John, then called Yago, who's taking refuge in a Benedictine monastery, under the watchful eye of a priest called Gines. But things aren't always what they seem, and in these pious hallways, a mysterious book is being written in a dark, unknown language - a book which makes all who read from it die, blood pouring from their eye sockets. Following the theft of a whole pile of letter Es from a fellow brother's printing press, Yago needs to spy on one of the other monks to figure out what's going on. Luckily, handyman monk father Ezequiel has a periscope you can borrow (God only knows what he uses that for usually - pun intended), but it's unfortunately missing the second mirror, rendering it useless.
But this is a point and click game, so it's up to John/Yago to come up with an appropriate fix before he can proceed. First, you need to find something that's the right kind of shape and size to replace the mirror - strolling through the corridors of the monastery, waiting for inspiration to strike, we came across a baptism font, which had a small silvery disc of metal at the bottom. The only problem is, it's so cold up on the mountains, the font had frozen solid, trapping the disc in ice. But as anyone who's ever had to de-ice a driveway knows, salt is just the thing to get things melting - and fortunately we picked up a handy plate of sea salt way back in the copying room. A quick sprinkle into the font, and the stone basin is back to its usual watery self - but now we have a different problem. Turns out the metal disc is stuck to the bottom of the basin, and Yago's fingers are too fat to dislodge it.
Back we go to Father Ezequiel's workshop, where a closer examination of his tool collection reveals a useful-looking chisel - just the thing for levering out that metal disc. Hotfooting it back to the font, it's a simple matter of using the chisel to free the silver disc, and we're but one step away from fixing our spy gear. Just a quick polish on Ezequiel's grindstone, and it's shiny enough to be used in place of a mirror in the periscope, letting us spy on the sneaky blighter who pinched the printing press letters, leading us straight to where he's hidden them all.
With a story that mixes history, folklore and conspiracy theories, Yesterday Origins can feel a bit like the Da Vinci Code at times; a fun thriller full of mystery and interesting characters that swings between various periods of history and the present day as the story progresses. It's an intriguing tale with a great sense of humour, marred only by occasional translation or localisation error (the developers are Spanish) - most notable of which was during the aforementioned printing press letter theft. With Father Ezequiel telling the player that "I don't have letters E", and then preceding to give the player his single remaining E, things were a tad confusing to begin with, knowing what precisely was supposed to have been stolen, before we eventually twigged the thief had stolen multiple letter Es from the printing press, leaving just one behind. We also had the game lock up on us a handful of times, forcing us to quit out and restart the game, but thankfully regular auto saves meant we hadn't lost much at all.
With Yesterday Origins, Pendulo Studios are back to doing what they do best, having created yet another solid point and click adventure. Plenty of puzzles and a Da Vinci Code-esque story of historical conspiracies and intrigue makes for a satisfying experience that will be especially popular with those who've been waiting since 2012's Yesterday for more John Yesterday. It may play things safe, sticking to the tried and tested point and click formula, but sometimes that isn't a bad thing.