Yonder The Cloud Catcher Chronicles – Review
Sometimes you just need to relax in a game world. To kick your feet up and let the craziness of the real world melt away. The developers over at Prideful Sloth understand that. And sometimes the hustle and bustle of the real world need to be put on hold and that we don’t need to challenge ourselves with a video game, but just relax. Yonder The Cloud Catcher Chronicles attempts to deliver a game that has “a sense of discovery, wrapped in a familiar yet unique adventure” but stumbles ever so slightly.
Yonder is semi open world. Upon waking up on the island of Gemea after you ship has been wrecked, you can explore the coast and surrounding forests, villages, and prairies. You are lead through a short tutorial and given your first sprite, which are Tinkerbell-esque fairies that help you remove murk from the island. Murk is the evil growth left over from some big baddie that is causing the good people of Gemea grief. Once you have enough of these sprites you can disperse the murk, unlocking new areas and items. For example, one of the first quests has you find additional sprites and you can cleanse an old farm. This farm becomes yours following the murk removal, and you can do with it what you see fit. You could raise any number of weird creatures that roam the plains of Gemea or grow trees and plants. All the while, you explore, do quests for villagers, build shortcuts, and cleanse the growth of murk. Now while there isn’t free form building like in Minecraft, Yonder has set areas for said farm and shortcuts. After you gather enough logs you can then build a bridge spanning a chasm that lets you get to and from certain areas quicker. Rather than just raising animals, you can also feed them certain items (depending on what animal) and have them follow you. You also get to customize your character. The starting options for customization are slim but as you explore the island you will find many new hairstyles, accessories, and dyes for your items. Yonder boils down to being a mix between Harvest Moon and Minecraft. The biggest difference than most open world games is that Yonder features no combat. This may be unattractive for some people and exciting for others. I personally enjoyed the time spent roaming, fishing, and hunting down new sprites without fear of dying and losing items if I ran across a scary monster. Sadly, this also caused me to lose the drive to continue playing in long sessions. Yonder was used almost as a tool to help me relax as I chose what “heavier” game I wanted to play. It’s great for popping in and just decompressing, but I had a difficult time growing attached to the gameplay or thin story.
Yonder has a unique art style. I’m not sure if it’s considered “low poly” or what, but the character models look like fisher price toys. This isn’t to say Yonder is bad looking, the game is beautiful. As you explore the island of Gemea, you look across magnificent fields of grass, rolling hills, and breathtaking mountain tops. Yonder reminded me a lot of Zelda Breath of the Wild with its open world art style. The lighting effects are amazing-watching the sunrise is one of my favorite things to do in Yonder. I would literally stop and just watch as the sun crested the hills and broke across the plains. Yonder ran smoothly as well. I never had any noticeable slow down on my ps4. I did notice some texture pop in as I loaded into the game, but never enough to bother me. Yonder’s graphics are really what sold me, and they really exceeded my expectations.
Yonder’s story is severely lacking. I honestly can’t even tell you what I was doing half the time because I was never engaged at all with the story or characters. Though, open world games like this are usually more about you building your own story. I mean, look at Minecraft. Regardless, the Murk is threatening the island of Gemea or something like that. Murk is bad, so go get it. You use the power of sprites and light to fight off the murk because you are the Cloud Catcher or something. Again, I could be totally off, the story is pretty paper thin and never seems to be a focal point in the game.
At the end of the day Yonder The Cloud Catcher Chronicles isn’t a bad game, it just isn’t amazing. If you want to escape from the hectic, sometimes stressful nature of modern games then Yonder is perfect. Yonder is a great palette cleanser, a great game to play for an hour before bed. With its digital price at around 15 dollars USD, I would recommend Yonder. Just don’t expect this to be the next great game to hold you over until the holiday season.