Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles Review
Harvest Moon type games have an instant attraction to so many gamers because of the laid back nature of their game play mechanics. Generally, games like Harvest Moon are relaxing titles, a great way to rid yourself of stress at the end of a long day. Generally, these games rarely ever have an adventure or story component too them, which makes them fairly one-dimensional. Enter Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. Part exploration, part adventure, part crafting, and part farming, this title takes the best components of numerous genres and creates a relaxing, stress free environment where players can lose themselves for hours. Although it puts all these components together in one neat package, is it worth playing? Read on to find out!
What Hits you First
The gameplay likely isn’t the first thing to catch your eye, or your ears for that matter. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles – for on known as Yonder – hits you with dazzling graphics and an outstanding soundtrack, two keys to a great game that is meant to be relaxing. There is no combat in Yonder, so loud music isn’t something you’ll have to worry about. Instead, you are treated to soft melodies and the sights and sounds of an open world environment. This sound melds perfectly with the cute, toy like graphics that rival some of the greatest games available on the PS4 to date!
The game takes obvious inspiration from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, and that isn’t a bad thing. Whether it be the opening cinematic where you dart from a cave to a cliff that overlooks the land, or the way the player interacts with the environment, it is never a bad idea to borrow what worked well in a huge, AAA blockbuster title. It doesn’t come off as a one-to-one remake, however. The developers have found a great way to make Yonder unique to itself, all the while drawing inspiration from successful titles that have come before it.
Story is NOT King
The story in Yonder isn’t fantastic, nor should any expect it to be that way. You shipwreck on and island that is cursed by Murk, and through the collection of spirit like creatures, you slowly clear the Murk from the land. Murk often impedes your ability to access various parts of the map, and until the correct number of spirit followers have been obtained, you won’t be able to progress. There is an overarching story (which I won’t ruin here), and it’s good enough to keep you playing and driving you forward. But it won’t be what you take away from your experience, I suspect. Instead, there is a host of other things available in Yonder that will preoccupy you for hours, if not days and months.
Creating that Relaxing Experience
If you want to blow through Yonder and get to the end, that is possible, although you will miss out on so many interesting things along the way. Much of what you do in Yonder is not actually necessary for the main storyline, and that includes building various buildings and bridges around the world you explore. But should you sidestep all of these great extra features, you’ll miss the main point of Yonder completely.
There is lots to do in this game, and I know I cannot explain that all here. However, I hope to highlight a few of my favorite things to do!
Farming – Early on in your adventure – as part of the main story in fact – you will uncover your first farming opportunity. At the start, you are limited to housing a few animals on your farm, which will produce resources for you. Your farm can be expanded over time, allowing you to add new buildings and crop plots as you progress the story. Each farm has a rating out of 100, and to complete the game completely, you will need to get your farm to 100% through production, cleanliness, and more. Throughout the world, you will find NPC’s whom you can feed in order to entice them to work on your farm. Getting one early is invaluable, as it will increase the farm production rate.
Once you’ve established your farm, you can bring animals to it to increase production. All it takes is the animals favorite food, and you will be able to feed it, and lead it, to your nearest farm. I say nearest, as there are many farms that can be unlocked all over the world of Yonder. A large treasure chest will appear at each farm which will allow players to store goods and access them from other locations.
Crafting – Obviously, your farm will need shelters for animals, food bins, water troughs, and more if you want to have a successful farm. This is where crafting comes in. Throughout the world, you will be able to pick up various resources that will become useful later. Whether on the ground like sticks and stones and flowers, or through using tools – chopping trees for wood, hitting large rocks for stones, mining resources, fishing, or cutting down large grass – all of these resources can be used in various crating activities.
Crafting isn’t just limited to your farm (carpentry) either. You can cook, build, and create a variety of objects, including clothing! Once you have these objects, you can begin accessorising, completing quests, and much more!
Exploration – As you move on in your adventures, you will open up new environments within the world of Yonder. Each area will often specialize in a specific type of crafting. The initial town you visit will act as a tutorial – allowing you to go and collect various resources, etc. – while future towns might specialize in carpentry, cooking, or other things. Finding these towns is not always necessary, so it is possible to miss them. However, exploration will uncover more than just towns!
While roaming the world, you will find opportunities to build new farms, access statues that can teleport you to new places, and even find treasure chests stuffed with loot. The time you spent is almost always worth the end reward, so take your time with Yonder!
Not all Great
Through conversations on Twitter, the public relations team behind Yonder have insinuated that there will be new content coming to Yonder in the future, as well as updates and fixes to address problems that players are having. I like this approach, and hope it will pan out in the long run. I myself stumbled on a number of disappointing issues.
While Yonder looks fantastic, it should be noted that aspects of the world feel very, very empty especially in the Grasslands. You can wonder a long way before seeing anything interesting, and I’m not talking about random flowers or stones strewn around on the ground. I’d love to see NPC’s going about their business, carts of goods behind transported from one town to the next, or other things that would make the world feel more alive.
The quest structure in Yonder can also get confusing. In certain situations, starting a quest where you need to find something will result in the game signaling out an area on the map that you should explore to find said object. They are specifically telling you exactly where something is, but rather, where you might find it. Other times, however, you won’t be given this option, and if you toggle the quest as your active assignment, the in game navigation will continue to send you back to the quest giver, not to the things you are looking for. It’s minor, but a problem none-the-less.
Despite these two small problems, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chornicles is a fantastic title on the PS4 that is very accessible. Whether you are an adult or a child, this game is easy to pick up and play, and hard to put down. I’ve had 10s of hours of fun already, and haven’t done everything possible in the game, but my children have spent equal amounts of time playing. They might not totally understand what they should be doing, but there is enough there to keep them entertained for hours on end. Pridful Sloth has done a great job of creating an experience for all gamers, not just a specific sector.
Grab your copy of Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles today! You won’t be disappointed!