I think one of the very best things about writing on a site like Buried Treasure is the afforded opportunity of nuance. YesterMorrow is a game I am really enjoying playing, but it’s also a game that feels like it needs another couple of months in QA. I’m delighted to recommend you buy it right now because you, too, are capable of nuance. We can enjoy imperfect games.
I’m relieved to report that its name is definitely the worst thing about this platform-explore-me-do. It’s a very charming creation, in which you play a young woman attempting to save her village, both before and after a disaster occurred. Time travel, you see.
In a lot of ways it’s a traditional formula. Young character charged with saving town/rescuing family, who then flips between two time zones to explore two versions of the same lands. As you go you gather new abilities, like a double-jump, or a new way to light the darkness, and in the end you win and go to bed a better person. We’ve all done it many times before. But what makes this stand out is that it’s just so approachable.
YesterMorrow isn’t hard. It isn’t trying to be hard. In an era of games that look like this but require the reflexes of a test pilot, it’s such a pleasure to play a game that is just there to be enjoyed. I’m doubly delighted, because I just so recently celebrated the same of Batbearian, but it’s worth pointing out how differently YM approaches its approachability.
If you were plotting things on a graph, Batbearian is the better game. But we’re not. We’re instead just playing a series of games over time and not needing to worry which one is at the top of the pyramid. This aside, Batbearian makes itself accessible by letting you tweak its difficulty until you find the sweet spot that works for you. It’s a triumph. But YesterMorrow is just easy. And that’s a joy too.
Easiness has somehow become a perceived failing of games of late, and that’s a thinking I want to stamp on with heavy shoes. The dislike of easiness is wrapped up in the ghastly cultures of “beat the game” and “git gud”. Bleurgh. Here we get to emphasise: enjoy the game.
YesterMorrow is almost transgressive in its easiness. The boss fights? They’re possible! They’re interesting moments of using your skills, rather than difficulty walls to keep out the unclean. The rest of the game? It’s a pleasant, interesting time of exploring and wall-jumping across the two time periods of its islands, of feeling like you’re always progressing, always achieving. There are certainly some tricky bits of platforming, but not Celeste tricky, just, “I need to get the hang of this” tricky.
There are some issues, as I mentioned. It’s a bit glitchy here and there, and I’ve had it crash to desktop once. More annoying is that you can’t click through text in the cutscenes, instead having to wait for its glacial pace. It then rubs this in by these weird enormous pauses after a conversation is over before it will finally pull the widescreen bars away and let you get on with playing again.
But there’s so much that’s great here, so many inventive ideas and interesting exploring. For the longest time you don’t have any means of attacking at all, and when hours in it eventually does give you a way to fight back, it’s not with a conventional weapon. I love it for that.
I’ve not finished the game – it’s bigger than I think the developer’s estimate of 10-12 hours, or at least the vast sections of blank map suggests it will be. Maybe it becomes intolerably hard later on, but I very much doubt it. I’m looking forward to finding out.