Some of you may have played this many yonders ago (see what I did there!) when it arrived on Steam and the PS4, or maybe you played it on the Switch in 2018. Well, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles has come to next gen consoles. Lets get into it.
Yonder is about a character who is taken away from their family, and now it comes the day you need to seek the truth about what happened. You start the game sailing the shores in a lightning storm when your boat gets struck and you and your ship mates are scattered across the island. You meet a large figure called Aaerie who tells you you have a compass which will guide you.
You enter Gemea, a pretty hefty large world with much to uncover. The game is third person so you immediately feel the depth of the world you are in. Your surroundings out reach for what looks like miles and it all looks accessible to travel to. The island is polluted in ‘murk’ which has restricted areas around the island and made this inaccessible for you to either enter or explore. You discover a sprite only you can see to help clear your path of murk. You see a little village nearby and someone tries to help you. They inform you a terrible accident has taken place and that is why there is murk surrounding the island.
When travelling the village on the dusty path, and the grass, it reminds me heavily of the graphical art style that is similar to Zelda’s WindWaker. From exploring there are many animals that habitat the land. You can walk up to these and feed them or guide them to a desired location. This makes this already enjoyable for me. I fed a fox, and it gave me little heart icons and followed me about for a bit. Cool, game over. I am happy, good enough for me! Kidding.
As you talk to the folks who live on the island they will ask you to fulfil tasks. There are eight distinct areas or biomes that make up the island of Gemea. If you think of this, similar to The Hunger Games. Each biome, specialises in an area of craft, such as Tailor, Constructer, Cook. Each Biome also looks completely different from the last. You have a backpack and your inventory section keeps track of everything you are doing, collecting or need to still do. It also keeps tracks of recipes, and crafted items.
I felt so overwhelmed when seeing this for the first time, as it was clear just how in-depth Yonder is for crafting. Every Biome has a Guild. You can join those guilds, in which you are able to craft items and go on quests and missions to help the community and yourself to find out more about your past. Each guild will have items the others wont. However some items require many items built together to create it. You will need to find these items by foraging the world around you, or trading for ingredients. Along the way you will find or be given tools that will help you grab your ingredients. You can cut grass, and make fodder. Chop down tree’s to create planks for bridges, the list is actually pretty endless of what you can mould, and make and construct. All of these tools are at the ease of your controller, using the trigger buttons, preventing the annoying menu access every time you might want to smash a rock, or pickaxe for gems.
This does not just stretch to guilds either, for each biome, you can start a farm of your own! You can adopt animals and make produce, hire farm hands to help. You even get to do the fun bit of picking up poo! This felt very Stardew Valley meets Farmville and I weirdly loved it? You have a patch of grass you can solely make your own. You can have animal pens, and fodder’s (If you have the tools to make them!) whilst also keeping the farm clean. You are rated out of 5 stars and as time goes on that may dwindle depending on the care of your farm.
Eventually you can start fishing, and that is a whole experience in of itself. You can collect many different fishes, all different weights, and even take parts in competitions The mechanic is good to go fishing and requires you to hold your rod in the direction away from the fish as it tries to scutter away. This was inventive and did not feel clunky to .
Murk can get harder to clear the more you delve into the depths of the Island. It will require you finding more sprites to help clear the pollution. Once I had discovered a few sprites the game really kicks off. You feel alot free-er and it feels like worlds upon worlds you are entering. There are even crevices in rocks that uncover chests and resources to break and gather items.
Lets talk missions, these really make the game. There were many a times where I set out on one particular quest and would get completely side tracked, ending up with 5 more in my roster, and focusing on a new one because of the exploration of the stunning terrain. Quests can be a bone of contention for some players, especially if the quests are mundane, or similar to the 10’s of quests you have just done with small changes. This is something that Yonder exceeds in. They are extremely varied, and I personally did not get bored doing them because of how different they all are. Missions or quests, whatever your language preference, can vary from collecting an ingredient for someone, building a bridge to help you quickly travel amongst the biomes, or even returning animals.
Yes – there is a quest where you must find 55 small cats around the whole island and even dress up a scarecrow. All quests are logged in your inventory and it keeps track of your progress. It can take a while to work out what could be a wham and bam quest, or a quest that may take you time to chip away at. However, you do pick this up pretty quickly.
As time passes within the world of Yonder, so do the seasons. You will experience both day and night on the island, as well as summer, winter, spring and autumn. It will even tell you how many game ‘years’ you have been on the island. Something that added that extra bit of difficulty element is quests will start to become season or day/night dependent. You may have to wait x amount of days until something is built that you can collect, or only find certain collectables amongst certain times of the day. This felt like a clever addition to the game, as once you have a good handle on it it can be just something fun to think about. I even managed to come across a special Halloween event as I just happened to enter a certain biome within autumn (or fall for those that say it this way). It was details like this that make Yonder feel more than just a farming or collectable game.
Visually the world is stunning, and nowhere looks the same. It is easy to tell where you may be from your surroundings. The terrain mixes from crystal clear lakes and grassy fields, to snowy mountains and even small towns that are built within cliff edges. Surrounding houses and other structures, even trees are all different depending on where you have ended up. Which is exactly what you should expect if you were travelling a large island.
The music of Yonder is tranquil, and changes within every biome. Each animal or small critter has its unique own sound when you either walk past them or feed them. You will experience harp like sounds, piano’s or just general atmospheric engulfment of the world around you. Speaking honestly, there was one particular mission I was on, where I genuinely did have to mute the game because it sounded like a fire alarm was intermittently going off. This did not put me off the game, but I did convince myself my own fire alarm had run out of batteries before realising that it was the area I was in. It seemed to follow me around for a while, but this was far into the game, and never happened after. I couldn’t work out the cause, but boiled it down to one of the nearby animals.
This is a danger free island, and so there are no enemies or big bad’s to defeat. The only danger is accidentally submerging yourself and drowning. The story is interesting but it does feel that was cut short very quickly. If anything I was shocked to see the end so soon considering how in depth the game feels from the offset. You can get through the story in around 6 hours, but the game itself could go on for easily 15-25 should you feel you want to explore more. Regardless of whether you are a fellow completionist, I still felt there was so much more to do other than the story on the Island. I knew I wouldn’t be experiencing the games full potential if I had stopped where the story had ended, and boy I really am glad I continued because I did have a blast.
The performance and graphics are sound, I did not experience any frame rate drops or any crashes. However, the movement although smooth most of the time, can feel a bit strange around the architecture of certain terrain. For example, I could either climb rocks quite easily, or at times I would randomly throw myself backwards when I attempted to double jump.
My last review saw me criticise the movement speed of the particular character, and this is not the case for Yonder. Yonder speeds and runs around at a good pace and doesn’t make you feel like you are waiting for him to arrive at a specific location. You can get to your surroundings pretty quickly as long as they are in eye line. One thing that did surprise me was that there is next to no fast travel system. This isn’t completely true, as I will explain further in a second. However for a map that is so in-depth and so big in size, with so many vast locations that can hold only certain items that you may need to travel back too often, I was surprised there was not a way to craft or press a button in the map to transport there. It reminded me of Pokemon Red on the Gameboy Colour before you get access to the bike.
As I just said, this is not completely true, as you can sort of travel through sage stone island heads. This feels a bit tedious in itself. You firstly will have to work out that this is something you can do. Secondly, they are also spaced within the map, and may require completion of a mission to interact. Once travelling through the sage stones you are then entered into a realm with all the other sage stones, the ones you have opened you can utilise for fast travel. There were times where the map would alert me of a stone, but it was impossible to locate. The stones themselves are very far away from each other and so even travelling to them can get tedious if there are a few you haven’t opened. It almost felt like you needed a fast travel to the fast travel system. With a world so big, it certainly could get tedious backing and forthing between the areas for those quests that will take much longer to do and require much more unique ingredients or items.
Something that is extremely enjoyable about certain items and ingredients is the extensive and boundless customizable feature for your character. At the start you can pick things such as your hair colour and eye colour. As you progress through the story and quests, you are given items or instructions on how to make certain clothing. You can find hair dye in chests, and trade for cooler garments. I think I went from silver to blonde to ombre to galaxy hair. It is so fun to choose between whether you should have an oversized bow or wear a top hat. You can change this as often or as little as you like as long as you have the capacity in your backpack to hold all your hair products and clothing.
Overall, Yonder: The Cloud Chronicles is extremely enjoyable if you are inspired by such games like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon. This game doesn’t require an incredible amount of skill, which makes the game extremely accessible to players young and old to explore at their leisure. Players can do as much or as little on the Island as they wish and will not run out of things to do any time soon. The island itself is large, stunning in visuals and packed with lots to do. The game doesn’t accept repetition which means you likely will not be bored for a good while.
Despite the slight tediousness of a limited fast travel I know post-review I will still be exploring this wonderful Island and completing the remaining tasks.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a relaxing, explorative crafting adventure game. The game invites decompressing and immersion into the fun Island of Gemea. If you’re here for cute animals, luscious environments and exploration, building farms, crafting ingredients and structures, then this is the game for you. The main story feels as if it ends a bit abruptly and the fast travel component is not ideal. However, with lots to do and lots to see you shouldn’t get bored quickly.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is out now on PS5 (reviewed0, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and PC.
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Publisher: Merge Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional copy of the game. For our full review policy, please go here.
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