Coming from the clever folk over at Bitmap Galaxy is YesterMorrow, a new retro-looking platformer, albeit one that this time is hit with a bit of a twist. The twist in question is a promising time travel mechanic, and it was this which piqued my interest when I saw it in action. Come with me to a world of light, shadow and time travel!
The story of YesterMorrow is a bit of a humdinger, following the exploits of Yui – a young girl who lives in a village with her parents and brother. Yui’s father is a priest of some description, charged with defending the Everlight from the Shadows. One fateful night, as the village prepared for the ritual to strengthen the Light (or something) a band of Shadows appears, attacks the festival and plunges Yui’s world into eternal night. Lead by a big Shadow who seems to be in charge, the rest of the villagers are reduced to hiding out, trying to stay alive. One day, the Shadows invade Yui’s home, kidnapping both her mother and brother; with nothing left to lose (her father disappeared the night of the attack), Yui resolves to fight back. She meets the Forest Guardian – a giant statue who tells her that in order to save the future, she’s going to have to travel back into the past, or words to that effect.
As luck would have it, the friendly statue knows of machines that can transport Yui back into the past, and so her course is set. Finding these portals to the past actually physically changes Yui from her gritty, older self, complete with face mask and grim outlook, back to her younger self, in a nice touch. Going back in time to before the attack and trying to warn the villagers of what is going to come is a fruitless exercise, as they don’t believe her. She therefore must travel the length and breadth of the land, learning to fight and utilising the power of time travel to solve puzzles, such as going back to a place when the pump was working to drain a swamp in the future, for instance. The time travel mechanic is really well done, and reaching a dead end as a version of Yui usually means thereto continue your journey.
Now, this isn’t going to be an easy journey, as you can imagine, so luckily Yui does have the ability to learn a handful of new skills and moves. At the beginning, she is armed with nothing more than harsh language and a clean pair of heels to defeat the Shadows, but as the adventure goes on she can unlock new powers like Light Bombs, which knock the Shadows out of whichever creature they are possessing, requiring another bomb throw to finish them as they home in for the kill. She also can unlock a double jump, which comes in handy, and there are many more to find (well, another four) which I’m going to keep to myself for fear of spoilers.
The controls for the game are pretty much as you’d expect, and you’ll soon be running and jumping like it’s a Super Mario look-a-like contest. One part of the controls that did give a bit of trouble, however, is when Yui wants to grab onto a rope or a net. You have to stop using whichever directional input you were using (for instance, jumping to the right), and press up instead when you want her to grab on. This takes some getting used to, as it seems counterintuitive to suddenly have to press up. It’s even worse in one section of the Temple of Life, where you have to jump from spider web to spider web, while the spiders are going down; it takes some judicious rubbing of the rosaries to get to the end of that section. The timing for the wall jumps seems a little odd as well, but it’s nothing you can’t get used to.
Graphically and YesterMorrow is absolutely charming, with Yui having a surfeit of personality, and all her little chums and the animals you can find to pet looking suitably cute. The Shadows also look menacing, so the graphical tick box is certainly filled in on this one. The sounds are great as well, with the ominous droning of the Shadows as they home in on Yui being very worrisome. There are four distinct worlds to go at, all with a definite look and feel about them, and the design of both the landscape and the inhabitants, both good and bad, are very nice to see. Although the Bullfrogs with their tongue attacks are a tad on the annoying side!
So, a conclusion is required, and it is as follows – YesterMorrow on Xbox One is a charming retro-styled platformer, or platform/puzzler if you prefer. There is a real sense of progression as you get stronger and learn to wield the Everlight, the bosses that you encounter are memorable and have patterns to learn should you wish to beat them, and the time travel mechanic works well to deliver the icing on the cake. Minor control quibbles aside, YesterMorrow is a great little playthrough and one you would do well to consider.