Rating by MoonBird posted on May 19, 2012
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.
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.
Time Played: 1-2 hours
Rating by MoonBird posted on May 19, 2012
Good example of studio's potential, and quite a good game all around
A few years back, when Black Mirror was published, I thought in my little mind that the computer game graphics would not be able to get any better. Bless me, I was so wrong. Cranberry productions provides us with a game, including so high graphics quality, that it makes dizzy. I would be yet again willing to say, that this is absolute best where we can get, but I think it’s time to learn from my mistakes, and remain silent. It sure is easy, because I’m so out of words in front of these graphics.
Mata Hari takes place in the beginning of the 19th century europe, Paris, Berlin, Monaco and Madrid. Music supports these locations excellently, although it will repeat itself after some while, because there is not too much of compositions. But powerful, classical tunes fit in this game like that famous hand into a glove.
In these days, I have often critisized - especially new and newish - games about the poor quality of voice acting. Mata Hari manages to be best acted game - best in a long while. From the present-day games, maybe only Still Life reaces the same line of quality at this matter. Actors have been carefully chosen for each character. All intonations are belivable and just right. Also the sound effects are pleasant and they actually sound really natrual. Therefore it’s easy to give full score from this point.
Mata Hari’s interface is quite similar to Black Mirror, but in this game, you will drag icons over the desired item or character. It’s quite confusing, though, that the conversation icons, and inventory objects are really similar, and you cannot always tell them apart. On top of that, they are plain icons, and the shape and size of the object doesn’t come clear from them. What’s more, there isn’t voice acted description from them. But aside from that, everything works fine with the interface and after getting used to it, one will eventually have a liking to it.
The fact, that the game takes place in last century’s europe, gives it a certain charm and Mata Hari is really interesting as a character. Also game’s theme is interesting, even though the story tends to be interupted by too many frustrating minigames. One could have thought to get more out from the atmoshpere, but the fact, that the script holds together very well and is easy to follow, just about saves the day.
It’s clear from the start, that Cranberry productions has put a lot of effort to quality animation. Not a single move of the chracacter is broken, but fluent and bendy. The trees are swinging in the wind so belivably, that at times, the game felt more like a movie, than an actual game. Clouds move gently in the sky, flags wave in the wind. Animation is therefore extremely well done in all respects. There is absolutely no complaints here.
Concerning the technical side, Mata Hari is trustworthy product. During the play, there were no bugs, and I could spot only one miss-spelled sentence in comparsion to dialogue, all worked really well. When the test plays are made thoroughly and the final touches are made carefully, there is a possibility to make fine quality products like this.
Mata Hari is disapointingly short game. Four cities plus few another places. I believe I needn’t to highlight this more than to say, that there sould have been really much more to explore. They have tried to make it longer with all kinds of minigames and puzzles, but failed, because they are way too easy in comparsion to other games of the genre. And there is no inventory-based puzzles at all. Straightly speaking: Mata Hari screams at least a half more to its length, because now big part of it just consists of running around and backtracking to places with train and taxi. It was frustrating.
Dialoque is extremely interesting, thanks to brilliant voice acting, but also to entertaining script. The only thing, that has to be critisized is - yet again - the asynchronization with text and voices during the intro and cutscenes. It isn’t something that should offend too much, just a mainor annoyance as the cutscenes do not really play a big part in this game.
Intro is actually the first part of the cutscenes, it’s short, gets to the point and is generously quite well done, but fails to get you jumping from exitement. Cutscenes are presented with similar style, there are no characters visible, only the narrator who makes an interview with another person. It works quite well, I must admit.
Mata hari will be endangered many times during the adventure, but dying in the game is not possible.
Cranberry productions is new developer, and everything looks bright for their future concerning the product development and quality of the game. Mata Hari is really interesting and - in a way - highly charming aquintance. The biggest stumbling-block is the lack of length, which overshadows another qualities of the game. However, 3 and half stars indicate, that this wasn’t miserable attempt at all. Quite the contrary.
+ Best graphics to the day. Speeclessly beautiful
+ Best voice acting in years. Definitely at TOP-10
+ Brilliant animations, especially the little details in the background
+ Quality game, no bugs
+ Good story, good script, fine completion
+ Music fits the game well
+ Interface is clean and easy, regardless the new innovations
- Way too short. Where’s the another half?
- Asynchronous text and voices during the cutscenes
- Intro could have been longer
- Quite bland and melancholic atmoshpere at points.
- Lack of inventory puzzles
- Backtracking with train and taxi
- Too much little minigames
The magic barrier of 90 points was just about out of reach, but that was primarly due to lack of length. Every detail of this game reflects the high quality. Technically, voice actingly, graphically, musically, trough animations and in every other respect. In some other review I remember to have said that nowadays, there is this syndrome of really good, but short games. I think I will repeat myself and once again, full of sadness, I must admit, that yes - unfortunately that was exactly the case. And is still. Mata Hari is, however, game worth testing out. Let’s hope that the developer will do something more lengthy and challencing in the future. This was good first work!
Time Played: 2-5 hours