[Review] YesterMorrow – Nintendo Switch

Introducing: YesterMorrow Switch Review

YesterMorrow’s time travelling protagonist in search for puppies

Bitmap Galaxy promise a lot with their description of yesterMorrow. From drawing parallels to big name Nintendo titles to proclaiming a “complete package” of 2D puzzle platforming gameplay, there is a lot to unpack. But does the small Slovakian developer provide enough to back up their claims, or do they need to use a song of time to go back to the drawing board?

Time Travel!

Temples are so 1998, we use shrines to time travel now….

Yui is a young girl who loves her family. On the day of the local festival she sets out to meet her father and begin the celebrations. This is where disaster strikes as a collection of monsters arrive with the intention of turning the village into a wasteland.

Fast forward to the future and Yui is a young woman who knows how to take care of herself in this new apocalypse. Though quickly I found myself asking how her family has managed to avoid being captured all this time? Despite this, you are quickly introduced to the first mechanic of the game.

The time travelling mechanic works like the popular Zelda title, A Link between Worlds. With specific locations to switch back and forth from the two locations. With the different time zones the game shifts slightly in gameplay, with young Yui having a greater focus on puzzle solving compared to her more action themed adult self.

A link between Nintendo titles

Light is a key theme, but a frustrating one at times.

As you traverse the world, you discover that there is a lack of “attack” function. Jumping on enemies is less like a Mario game than the developers boast. The shadow creatures have the ability to inhabit the local wildlife and hitting these drains your health. This pushes you more into avoiding enemies and working through the landscapes to complete the puzzles in order to progress.

The basic controls are no different from most platforming games. Yui has the ability to roll, jump, and interact with the world using the switch’s button layout. Yui can also wall jump, which enables her to reach parts of the level otherwise unobtainable. The game uses the analogue stick for movement, but personally I found myself switching to the D-pad as doing so felt more natural for the environment and made swinging on vines and catching them mid air more achieveable.

A puzzling time

Wall jumping is a skill to master in this game.

Yui does, however, quickly develop skills to assist her, using the magical Everlight that you uncover in the ruins you revisit early on. The skills you acquire are needed to help progress through the world. While the abilities are used throughout, it isn’t always clear which to use. It’s easy to forget you have access to a particular ability.

The puzzle mechanics are embedded into the platforming world around you. A combination of well timed jumps and rolls will often help you get to a specific area in order to flip a switch and open up new terrain. Or swapping between past and future timelines in order to reach an area that was previously closed off. The only real issue with the puzzle mechanics is the lack of assistance. For a game that takes a lot of influence from Zelda, there is no Fi/Navi/<insert sidekick here> to guide you if you get lost and this can become frustrating. This is more apparent with the slight open aspect of the world, as at times you can be trying to solve what you think is a puzzle to the next stage, but is in fact an area to tackle later on.

For the completionists among you, did I mention the pets?

Now where is that pupper?

For the completionists among you, there is no shortage of collectible goodness in YesterMorrow. Collecting the map pieces opens up the world for you as well as scrolls which help to expand on the lore as you progress. There are also artifacts and a bestiary to complete in order to 100% the game, but the beauty lies in the pets.

Throughout the worlds you will encounter the most adorable animals. At first I thought these were placed as ways to restore health, as stroking them revealed hearts. Turns out that these are collectibles spread throughout the game and adds to the replayability of the game overall.

Gorgeous pixelated world

Is the puppy here?

Aesthetically the game has a beautiful pixelated look, similar to games like Celeste and Dead Cells and there is a great contrast between the past and future worlds. The past worlds contain a mixtures of vibrant colours and shades, whilst the shadow world of the future combines darker palates with bright flashes of purples for the enemies.

Musically, there is little in the soundtrack to shout about. But thats not a bad thing in itself. The atmosphere created is both in theme with the environment and adaptive to the situations. The sound effects are well placed and again, in fitting with what is taking place. Which is what you want from your soundtrack, no ear worms but also no dischord to take your out of the experience.

The story, lore and development of Yui’s character are clear strengths behind this game though, and do a lot to salvage some of this issues to be discussed later. You feel very quickly for Yui’s plight as she blames herself for a lot of the events. This initial attachment drives you to want to change the events from earlier in the game and that in turn sends you down a rabbit hole of discovery, where each piece of lore feeds into what is an enjoyable story telling experience.

But all is not well, under the hood…

Maybe over here?

The game runs far from well. It struggles to reach 30FPS and frequently has issues with slowdown the minute too many objects are on screen. Some of this has been addressed to reduce the chance of this happening, but that creates a bland environment to interact with at times. The controls are responsive but there are times where hit boxes are very precise, often causing you to repeat segments or lose health unfairly. You will call the game out when you die at times.

Unfortunately, there is more. The game at the time of playing had a number of glitches, which after a quick research was found to be common for a number of users. I found when opening the inventory screen there would be flashes of in game locations that made it difficult to scroll between screens. This also popped up a few times in game and made it difficult to enjoy, especially as when it first happened it had me questioning my console.

Final Thoughts – It needed more time

You travel all that way.. and the pup never left home!

There is so much potential here but there are far too many negatives to recommend YesterMorrow. The bugs can be cleaned up quickly, and will come down to a case of trying to release all versions at the same time. However, there is always that strong argument of should a game be released if it is buggy? The bigger studios can get away with game breaking glitches because they can fix them within days at best. But indie studios don’t have that luxury, there’s always a chance that a bug can damage not only the game, but the studio.

There is a lot to improve in the gameplay if it is to match the strong story behind it. Whilst we have already discussed some of these, There is also the issue that the time travel mechanic feels overused. There’s a lot of repetitive back tracking to reach shrines making you sometimes wish you just had an ocarina to hand. Ultimately you wont leave the first island without being bored of a mechanic which, frankly, is now a common story telling trope.

Whilst the story is compelling in it’s own right. There are a lot of 2D pixel platformers that combine another element. Be it a puzzle, a roguelike or even a tower defense element. The genre is saturated to the point where a few small glitches is going to hurt a title. When a huge indie hit like Celeste is the same price, for example, why look elsewhere?

Pros

  • Gorgeous pixelated world
  • A really cute collectable system
  • Great character development

Cons

  • Some puzzles were infuriating and could have benefitted from help and reminders of mechanics
  • The game needed more time to iron out switch bugs
  • The time travel mechanic feels overdone too quickly

Verdict

YesterMorrow has potential, but in its current state it is too buggy to recommend and with frustrating puzzles. This quickly became an unenjoyable experience.

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