Developer: Prideful Sloth
Publisher: Prideful Sloth
Genre: Adventure, Third Person, Open World,
Rating: E for Everyone
Platforms: PS4, PC
A game that’s an open world adventure, a crafting simulator, and a social simulation. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles sends you off on an adventure to explore the vast reaches of the mysterious Gemea. Being a fan of games like Skyrim, I was excited to hop into another open world exploration game. Does it add up to more than the sum of its parts, or is it a murky mess?
The island of the game is magical in nature. There are mystical creatures called Sprites, and an dark magical infestation known as Murk which manifests itself as a spheres of dark pockets all across the island.
There’s no violence in this game. There’s no death for the player character or anyone else.
Other negative themes
You’ll adopt animals and bring them to your farm. Occasionally you’ll have to pick up after them.
The point of the game is to combat evil and get rid of the Murk from the island. You also spend a lot of time helping your neighbors.
If I could describe Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles in one word, it would be “innocent.” Developed and produced by Prideful Sloth, an Australian based studio combines the best elements from games like Breath of the Wild and Minecraft and ties them together in a neat little story.
Yonder begins as you find yourself washed up on the mysterious island of Gemea, a vast, wide land with different distinct environments.Throughout the game, you’ll travel from desert biomes to tundra environments, and encounter everything in between. Each one has been infested with something called the “Murk.” Murk is a dark energy that pops up in every biome infecting an area with darkness. The main push of the game is to rid the island of Murk. You do this with the help of magical little creatures called Sprites. There are 26 Sprites scattered all across Gemea, though you don’t need them all to complete the story.
And that’s it! The rest of the game is exploring this island, collecting Sprites, and using them to clear out the Muck when you find it. That being said, there’s a lot of sidequesting on this island as well. There are towns and villages where people live that will ask you to do things. Most of these tasks involve simple stuff that won’t take much figuring out to do, but they encourage travel.
This is probably where the game is strongest. The main and side quests are set up to compel you to explore every nook and cranny of the island, and this is where the strength of Yonder lies. Yonder is a beautiful game to look at. Each environment has a personality to it that makes wandering less of a chore and more of an experience. Gemea has a day and night cycle too, as well as seasons, so each environment will look a little different at each time of year. And the soundtrack is a perfect compliment to the world, reflecting the peaceful quiet feel of the setting.
Most of the fun of the game comes from exploration, but Yonder also includes a rather involved crafting system. In addition to Sprites, there’s a plethora of different material to gather on the island that can be used to build, craft and trade. The important tools you’ll need for most of the game are given to you pretty early on, meaning everything else you craft is useful, but not necessary. It’s annoying how you need recipes to craft most of the things in the game though; you just can’t craft willy-nilly.
It’s also possible to own your own farm in this game. Doing so allows you to adopt certain animal species on the island, and produce goods, similar to games like Harvest Moon. This is the one of the weaker parts of the game. While the story and questing encourages you to explore, the farm keeps you tied down. Sure, you’ll need to gather materials to complete a farm, and bring in animals but it hardly seems worth the effort in a game like this, especially since there’s no clear payoff. But if you’re a completionist, it’s not the worst, just inconvenient.
I complemented the narrative of Yonder and how it’s used to encourage the type of game play the developers were probably hoping for, but now I’m going to criticize it. The story of Yonder feels shallow and empty and incomplete. Even though this Murk is taking over the island, there’s no clear sense of urgency. You can get through a lot of the game’s content without even addressing it. One the one hand, I admire the subtleties to the way the story is told in this game—just some introductory dialogue, an occasional journal, and the murk always looming in the background. However, it feels like the story was built around the gameplay, specifically made to make sure you have a reason to go from point A to B to C. The ending of the main story feels more like a chapter halfway through the book rather than the end. The experience ceases abruptly.
Overall, it’s hard to be too dissatisfied with Yonder because it’s mostly harmless and does some things really well. It’s a good game to just kill time in. The stakes are low, there’s no danger, and it’s fun to just run around sometimes. Playing Yonder is like taking a stroll through a park. It’s a low risk activity that’s fun in smaller doses. In a gaming world dominated by hardcore, live or die titles, games like Yonder provide a small island of respite. If you’re looking for a game that anyone can enjoy with minimum investment, this game is for you.
The Bottom Line
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a mindless adventure game that's easy to lose yourself in. Story and character development are pretty light, but the main focus is atmosphere, which the game accomplishes beautifully.