Developer: Bitmap Galaxy
Release Date: November 5th 2020
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Genre: 2D platformer
I never delight in talking about a weak game. In fact, one of the best parts about writing at Noisy Pixel is putting some well-deserved titles in the spotlight that typically don’t get the recognition they should. YesterMorrow by developer Bitmap Galaxy is unfortunately not one of those games. While it’s possible to find a decent platformer here, it is sadly hidden among numerous performance issues tainting any potential it has.
YesterMorrow story begins on Forest Island during the ceremony of light. During this ritual, dark forces crash the party-throwing civilization in jeopardy. As Yui, all hope is put on you to contact the guardians on four islands to help save your family and the world.
Almost immediately, you are given the ability to time travel at special pillar points. Traveling to the past lets, you play before the takeover; however, traveling in the future will see you in an apocalyptic shadow of the land’s former self. It’s not an uncommon concept for sure, but it’s one that could have led to some interesting gameplay elements.
Regrettably, this is rarely the case in YesterMorrow. Simultaneously, terrain and aesthetics may change more often than not; these changes are simply roadblocks for exploration. I did expect a bit of this, but YesterMorrow feels like it goes to the extreme and doesn’t take advantage of other games’ possibilities with this concept.
This is then exacerbated by areas that become more labyrinthian. You may find yourself in loops of dead ends, missing a specific turn off at some points, and at these points, the game feels intentionally frustrating. This does seem drastically more prominent in the first island compared to others and lessens as you acquire more abilities like the double jump and dash, but at that point, it feels too little too late.
A better map system would also be helpful with as twisted as things can get. Just a single picture of the map without your general location is offered. You are given a key on the map that tells you where to go, but it’s up to you to pay attention to signs you come across that give you an idea of where you are. Strangely it seems like maybe the developers intended these map features to have more options as one of the buttons prompts for toggle doesn’t actually do anything. And when you move to any section of the map, a flickering on-screen leads me to believe this feature wasn’t fully finished or tested.
If that was the only performance issue, it might not be a game-breaker, but it felt like every couple of minutes, I ran into a new quirk compounded on preexisting problems. Most noticeable is a consistent lag and drop of frame rate that can directly affect platforming. It is more severe in handheld mode and sometimes would have a significant delay in my actions.
Other areas are littered with random strobe-like flashes, and besides being downright annoying, they could potentially affect more visually sensitive gamers. Additional glitches included weird panning with the camera. One became so severe I had to reload my game’s save file several times, and at a point, I worried I had to restart my whole game until I found an exit before the camera completely panned off my character. On rare occasions, the screen would quickly jolt around, forcing me to take a couple of breaks before continuing.
Another perplexing experience was cutscenes, and mission dialogue would replay at various parts of my progress, making me question if I actually needed to do what it was asking me or just ignore it. One scene even showed a boss, I defeated return, and once I went to the boss fight area, they were nowhere to be found. It all felt extremely confusing, and with a game full of puzzles, sometimes these reoccurring events were the most puzzling of all.
Other mechanics aren’t necessarily glitch related but still don’t feel well thought out. Platformers typically adhere to a standard button layout and rarely does this change unless there is a good reason. However, the button layout feels somewhat random for YesterMorrow, and there is no in-game way of changing this. Sure, you can thankfully change layouts in your main settings, but I’m left wondering why these controls deviated at all to begin with.
Water and bog physics also feel overly difficult to overcome near the beginning. Once you have the double jump ability, it’s pretty much a nonissue, but before that, just climbing out of water can be a tedious affair. If you miss a platform in a bog, it can feel like pure luck making it out. At one point, I was struggling to escape a bog and just let myself sink to the bottom, hoping I would run out of breath and die. Sadly, death didn’t save me here, and I had to reload from a previous save point.
Even with all the problems already listed, there are some interesting ideas and puzzles presented. After the first island, future islands get surprisingly more straight forward. It feels like later islands were better designed and a bit more thought out. Temples are probably the strongest areas of YesterMorrow. Inside there are fairly clear directives implemented with more precision platforming and puzzle-solving. Bosses are decent and usually require you to combine multiple abilities.
I did like the idea of animals being taken over by dark minions. Upon striking them, the minions leave their bodies and need to be vanquished by bombs. The animals themselves remain and can’t be killed. Some of them even help with various puzzles you come across. Although it was annoying that these animals could still harm you even after destroying their parasitic minions, I found the concept interesting. That being said, I didn’t always have the motivation to bother freeing them unless it directly helped solve a puzzle since it was just as much effort to avoid them either possessed or not.
Yestermorrow feels like it had a lot of potential. There are some decent temples and puzzles to be found, but it can be hard to recognize them with various design choices and performance issues. This also bleeds into the enjoyment and accuracy of precision platforming. While hopefully, there will be various patches to fix its numerous bugs, as it stands, YesterMorrow feels like an adventure that’s not yet finished.
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