Yeli Orog is an atmospheric game unique for its use of FMV as a narrative technique. It is a mixture of still photos, some with moving aspects like a curtain blowing in the wind or the clouds moving which is a nice eerie touch, and then there is poorly animated fire as well as portals. You start out in a living room facing a window with a ‘memo’ in front of you. The game prompts you to read it; however, be warned it is 10 pages long. Yeli Orog is reliant on text to tell its story, without a sound narration, which personally I find better since I tend to read ahead. This story revolves around the discovery of a stone tablet in the Celtiberian language. The memo tells you what the tablet says – a creepy Celtiberian myth which you inevitably find yourself experiencing in the game as you go on this archaeological discovery.
Here’s the thing, Steam describes Yeli Orog as ‘an immense archaeological discovery’; however, the game is an hour long. There is certainly amazing photos of mountains and the sea, but the exploration aspect is limited. In fact, the game developer enforces this limit as there is no save option. It is instructed that the game should be played in one sitting so you either must leave it open or keep restarting. However, playing through the game in one sitting I do not believe pausing it would have impacted the experience.
The plot is original and interesting which made the cons mentioned above a bit more bearable. The contextual text bits are well written and did not make the game drag as I feared. It is nice to see a game exploring a topic that many would not have heard of rather than something overdone. The narrative was enhanced by how tense and creepy the atmosphere was. There is no music and little sound which added to the foreboding experience – sitting there isolated among mountains with only the sound of waves freaks you out a little. The game absolutely nailed this and did not rely on jump-scares to create a reaction. But, due to the length of the game, it seemed rushed and unexplained when it came to the ‘alien’ world. It felt like I was going with the motion of the game but not understanding the narrative progression one bit.
The puzzles and some of the gameplay is frustrating at times and took away from the plot. For example, you’re thrown into a puzzle with no explanation – it is just a bunch of foreign words and you must write a response. There is no indication where the answer could be, and I was close to just quitting the game. In fact, there were two moments I was close to quitting the game, which leads back to the inability to save. A more generically action-packed moment in which you go insane if you do not shoot the ‘alien’s quick enough. This sets you right back to the beginning of that sequence and it does not give you nearly enough time to find the aliens in the dark.
All in all, the game is a decent starting point especially for being made by a single man. The imagery is gorgeous, and I respect trying new styles to set the game aside from the countless ones being released. However, there are some major flaws which took away from the enjoyability of the gaming experience. I would recommend it for a one-time play but do not expect to be amazed by any means – but you will be spooked.