Review – Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles (Xbox One)

Video games are the preferred form of escape from the real world for many people, myself included. The beauty of this entertainment medium is that it can come in such vastly different forms. If you have some pent up aggression, you can blow off some steam in a fighting game like Street Fighter or lose yourself in a realistic military shooter like Call of Duty. If you want to exercise your mind, you can solve numerous puzzles like in The Talos Principle. If you want to live out another life altogether, you can manufacture one in The Sims. Then if you’ve just had one of those ultra stressful days and you’re looking to shut your brain off and lose yourself in lots of easy mindless tasks, then perhaps delving into Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles from Prideful Sloth is the right kind of escape for you.

I’ll admit, Yonder was not the game I was expecting. From the trailer, it looks like an action/adventure game set in a rich fantasy world with a wide variety of quirky characters. In reality, it’s vastly different. You play as the child of royalty that is sent away for your protection as an evil force is invading the land. You and your crew are shipwrecked in a land called Gemea and you quickly befriend a creature called a sprite. You soon learn that when sprites are gathered together, they have the power to expel the evil force, a purple fog called Murk. I know this probably sounds like an interesting premise, but that’s where the story pretty much ends.

Yonder

One of the many sprites you’ll encounter throughout Gemea.

You’ll go from town to town talking to the residents and taking on various quests. Let me be more specific, various fetch quests. That’s right, as I learned the hard way after a few hours of playing, there is absolutely no combat whatsoever in this game. At first I just thought the story was taking a while to build up as you took your time thoroughly exploring the land, but then it became apparent that this is the type of game that focuses solely on performing lots of mindless menial tasks.

Now don’t get me wrong, there is a fair variety of tasks to lose yourself in such as farming, fishing, never ending fetch quests for citizens, and crafting. Oh so much crafting. That is really the extent of this game. You can craft items to build a farm so you can raise animals that provide you with other goods like milk, which you can then trade for more items that you can use to craft other things. If you meet an NPC that is stuck in the rain and needs something to protect herself from it, well then you’ll have to jump through some hoops. First, you’ll have to go to the town that specializes in tailoring, meet the master tailor, fulfill the master’s fetch quests to learn their tailoring secrets, then craft the items you need to make a raincoat for that NPC. At the end of the whole ordeal, you’ll be rewarded with some arbitrary wearable item for your character that does nothing other than alter your appearance. There’s never any real reward for any of the jobs you complete and it usually only leads to more crafting.

Yonder

The developers were having some fun.

At this point you might be wondering, “what about the sprites and the threat of the Murk?”. The Murk is an ominous purple cloud-like substance that doesn’t actually hurt you, it just prevents you from entering certain areas and towns until you find enough sprites to banish it. Then you’re free to roam the newly available area and, you guessed it, go on more fetch quests and crafting missions. There is really just enough of a flimsy story set up in the very beginning of the game to push the “action” along. I was pretty disappointed by this since the premise of the game actually seemed pretty promising. Not only is there no real main story, but even the NPCs don’t have any sort of depth. They are purely there to provide you with fetch quests, trading opportunities, or crafting knowledge. Once this became apparent, I didn’t really feel much desire to delve deeper into the game, since basically everything you do doesn’t really matter.

Yonder

Autumn in Gemea is beautiful.

Now I do have to give credit where credit is due and say that Yonder is a visually appealing game. It’s a fully open world game with eight different unique areas, each with their own environment. The grasslands are the largest and most vibrant, but there are also desert areas, tropical beaches, lush forests, and snowy mountains. Yonder also features a day/night cycle, changing seasons as the days pass, and a weather system. The characters, animals, and buildings are adorably cartoonish and add to the cute child-like charm that it’s striving towards.

There is no voice acting in Yonder, as all of the dialogue is delivered through text boxes. The sound effects of the world around you are well done though and the music is outstanding. Its ambient tones are subtle enough to not take away from the world, but compliment each region perfectly.

Yonder

You have to admit, this game can be gorgeous.

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is pretty disappointing for me mainly because there is no real substance to this game. What started off with an interesting idea for a story and world, quickly became shallow and one dimensional. It’s adorable beyond measure and it’s a game that can be enjoyed around small children. For adults who like games with a purpose, this falls very short of the mark. However, if you’re simply looking for something pretty that you can hop into and play while turning your brain off for a while, then maybe you’ll enjoy this game.

 

Graphics: 8.0

Cute character designs and rich, vibrant environments make Yonder a treat for the eyes.

Gameplay: 4.0

There is nothing more to this game than crafting, fishing, and fetch quests. No combat of any kind.

Sound: 8.5

There is no voice acting, but the sound effects and music are very well done and fit the tone of the game.

Fun Factor: 4.0

Unless you like games that only feature crafting for the sake of crafting and never ending fetch quests, Yonder wears out its welcome very quickly.

Final Verdict: 5.5

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is available now on Xbox One, Switch, PS4, and PC.

Reviewed on Xbox One X.

A copy of Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was provided by the publisher.

Advertisements