I have always enjoyed games that let the player wander about and forge their own path toward a certain end goal. Even more so when these games have a mechanic built-in that lets me build up something, whether that be entire towns like in the Dark Cloud franchise, or just a simple farmhouse like in Yonder. This is a very simplistic game, but it’s one that is easy to get lost in for hours on end if you aren’t careful with time management. Read on for our full Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles review.
Title: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Publisher: Prideful Sloth
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4
Reviewed On: PC
Release Date: July 18, 2017
Game Provided by the Developer for the Sake of This Review
Perhaps one of the first things you’ll notice when checking out Yonder or playing it for the first time, is that this looks very reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda series, even having a color palette similar to what Nintendo went with in Breath of the Wild. There isn’t as much going on in Yonder than there was in the latest entry to the Zelda franchise, but it’s still nice to know where Prideful Sloth took a lot of inspiration from when crafting this game.
Before being able to explore and wander around the world, you’re met with a character creation screen when firing up the game. While not that deep of a system, it still allows for slight customizations to give your main character a little bit of uniqueness and personality before setting out into the game. After you’re done making the few changes available to you, you find yourself sailing out on the open sea with a small crew. Before long, a terrible thunderstorm strikes and causes the ship you’re traveling on to wreck. You find yourself washed up on the shore of a mysterious island known as Gemea, and turns out, you can actually see these fairy-like creatures that inhabit the island alongside the local population. It’s up to you to find these creatures and clear away the Murk that is spreading all throughout the island.
Yonder is not an overly long game by any stretch of the imagination. Clocking in at roughly six or seven hours worth of main story content, the game is easily stretched on for hours upon hours of gameplay thanks in part to the open-world nature of the game and the fact that you can just explore to your heart’s content and do whatever content strikes you in the moment. Feel like cutting down some trees, replanting them, and destroying rocks? Go for it. If you want to tend to your farm and care for the livestock, you can do that. You can even pass the time by going fishing, which is extremely peaceful and a well-done implementation of the hobby which is normally a boring task to do in video games.
The purpose of the game is to clear away the Murk that was mentioned earlier, and restore happiness to the population of Gemea. Along the way, you’ll encounter various small villages and people throughout the world that require assistance with various tasks, which in turn will help you learn more crafting abilities or send you off to new areas to explore and clear away Murk in. There are a ton of side quests found throughout these villages, and doing all of them will absolutely extend the length of the game and provide for a more enjoyable experience. Some of the quests are definitely fetch-quests though, so I would have liked to see a bit more variety in that regard.
One of the most frustrating things to me in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was the unnecessary gating of being able to enjoy the game. An overly complicated crafting and trading system made for countless times that I needed to run back and forth clear across the map in order to find some glue, pick up planks of wood, or whatever other random item I happened to be missing. Another complaint is that when you are trading items with one of the local merchants, you want to be careful with what you’re actually giving away. Unlike in most other games, if you trade 700 gold worth of items to a trader for his items that only equate to 200 gold, you’re going to lose out on the extra 500 gold you would normally get back in some form of currency. This is because there isn’t a currency system in the game, and it instead relies on the sole mechanic of trading in order to get rid of items you no longer need, or to pick up on other items you might be searching for. It was an extremely puzzling mechanic, and it required a slight adjustment period on my part because I’m just so used to dumping off junk and extra items I no longer need to a store for the income. At least you do have access to a storage unit on your farm to store items you don’t always need, but want to hang on to for the future.
Another thing that I feel is worth mentioning.. there is no combat found within Yonder whatsoever. In fact, there really isn’t any danger at all in the world. You can jump off the tallest structure, and your character will simply whip out an umbrella and float safely and gently back down to the ground, sustaining no damage at all. I appreciate the idea behind this, but I feel like having some small, menial enemies to fight would have help brake up the exploration and crafting parts of the game even more, and made it just a little bit better.
Ultimately, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an enjoyable experience if you’re just looking to jump into a gorgeous looking game and do some exploration and crafting mechanics. I feel that this game would appeal to fans of the Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons, and Stardew Valley games without a doubt. Even though it had an overly complicated crafting and trade system, and no combat at all, the exploration tied to being on this mysterious island and the beautiful art style and graphics used are reason enough to give this game a look.