Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

PREMISE

As the hero you will explore Gemea, uncovering the island’s secrets and the mysteries within yourself as you embark on a journey of self-discovery. On a quest to become the island’s champion, you will join forces with Sprites, creatures who are the only thing capable of dispersing the murk, to save Gemea and its people.

At the heart of Yonder, is a game that delivers a sense of discovery, wrapped in a familiar yet unique adventure.

Let me first say to you that despite its initial appearance and what you might expect, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a game about exploration, crafting, farming and losing yourself for hours.  The game does not contain any combat.  There are no swords, shields, health meters or other such combat related mechanics.  Does this impact the game in any negative way? Absolutely not!  The developers have put in an enormous wealth of content to keep you amused and during my 20+ hours with the game, at no time did I feel the need to take up arms and kill slimes.  For those of you familiar with Nintendo titles, I want you to think more Harvest Moon with a bigger world (and arguable more depth) rather than Zelda (which is comparatively crafting and farming lite).

THE MAIN QUEST

Much like The Elder Scrolls titles, you can belt through the main storyline of this game in about six hours.  Unlike those games I’d actually urge you to do so right away.  It will open up the map, introduce you to all of the craft masters and give you a much stronger feel for the game as you prepare to enter the next phase.  Yes folks, rolling credits really just means you’ve completed the story phase of the game and now it’s time to get serious.  However, there is no need to rush that storyline. Take your time. Playing Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an extremely relaxing experience.

CRAFTING

There are eight different crafting schools in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles – Wayfarer, Chef, Carpenter, Constructor, Tinker, Brewer, Tailor and Master.  Each have a variety of recipes for you to learn and collect.  Ingredients are collected, grown, bought or manufactured to create a swathe of new objects.  At my current point in the game (just over 20 hours) I’ve acquired just over 110 recipes spread across all of the different schools.  Of that I’ve crafted only the bare minimum to complete quests and move the story along. There is a lot I haven’t even gotten around to yet, much of which assists with farming, plenty of it cosmetic to make me look cool, and some of it to construct bridges to open up new areas of the map.  I can’t honestly tell you how many different crafting recipes there are in the game or if I’ve found them all or not, although I suspect there are probably quite a few more as I have yet to ‘Master’ any of the schools, as doing so requires me to craft 1000 trade worth of goods.  Only one minor point bothered me with crafting, which was the fact that certain components could only be purchased, much like MMORPG titles.  Having said that though it’s entirely possible I simply haven’t unlocked the recipe for it yet. It also encourages me to barter goods but ultimately did slow me down a bit.

FARMING

Farming looks to be a large part of the game with players given the ability to entice animals to their farm where they will produce various resources.  Later crops can be grown from seeds and a variety of machinery placed to help with crafting and convert basic goods into more advanced products (such as milk into cheese).  I wont lie, despite the hours I’ve sunk into this game I’m yet to spend any serious amount of time with farming, not because I’m adverse to it but simply because there is just so much to do in Yonder that I’ve had my priorities elsewhere.  Those with a huge passion for farm sims like Harvest Moon are going to spend a considerable amount of time moving between the five available farm plots in the world and having a ball of a time.  To get the most of it though I feel a lot of farming might be more ‘end game’ content as from what I’ve seen in crafting there is a lot to be unlocked here.

OTHER PASTIMES

Can you go fishing? Absolutely! The game includes a list of fish for you to find and their size.  Sure you might have found every fish in the game but have you caught a five-star behemoth?  Exploring plays an enormous part in Yonder as well, you’ll be surprised at just how far you can push boundaries.  I spent a considerable amount of time jumping up mountains or sneaking around bluffs thinking that I’d entered a part of the game I wasn’t supposed to be in, only to be rewarded with a chest or some form of Easter Egg.  Very cool.  Taking the time to explore is absolutely worth your while and very much encouraged, for you will need to do so in order to find all of the many collectables in the game.  On your journeys keep your eye out for shimmering blue areas, these contain Sprites which will help you remove ‘Murk’ from the map and access areas you can’t otherwise visit.  Keep your ears open too for the ‘meow’ of lost cats that you can find and collect (they are just too cute).  You’ll go trapping to gather animal hides (even this is done in a non-violent fashion), gather raw materials, complete side quests and just generally explore the living world as it changes from day to night and season to season.

THE WORLD

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles takes place in Gemea and despite being only a couple of islands has an extremely diverse biome structure.  From deserts to frozen tundras, lava filled mountains to grassy planes, the world is diverse and non-repetitive.  In terms of scale the map isn’t as large as Oblivion or Skyrim but neither does it need to be in my opinion.  The playable area is still considerable and you will be using the fast travel options to move around the map quicker, believe me.  Your path will be blocked at times by ‘Murk’, a purple fog that prohibits movement and requires Sprites to dispel it. Other times more mundane and natural obstacles will present themselves such as fast flowing rivers or canyons, both requiring bridges to be built to overcome them.  Oh, for some reason you can’t swim in Yonder either. You wont die of course (you respawn back on the shore) but it does limit your movement in a few instances.  In some cases you’ll need the seasons to change before you can tackle a water puzzle.  Jumping from great heights isn’t a problem either, our industrious hero will simply pop open their umbrella and float gracefully down.  Keep an eye open as a number of treasure chests can only be acquired using this  method.

VISUALS

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a gorgeous looking game.  While comparisons are going to be made to Nintendo titles such as Zelda and Animal Crossing, I don’t personally see that as a negative.  I’d even argue in some cases Prideful Sloth (the developers) have out-Nintendo’d Nintendo.  The cartoon characters and familiar art style are fantastic but Yonder takes it a whole step further with leaves and blossoms blowing past on the wind, day and night cycles, meaningful seasons, weather effects such as storms and fog, star constellations, and a huge variety of biomes.  There has been more than one occasion where I simply stopped moving and just let the world ‘breathe’ around me, soaking in the visuals.  This game goes to show that you don’t need photo-realistic textures in ultra high resolutions to create a gorgeous looking sandbox world that will take your breathe away.

AUDIO

The game doesn’t make use of typical voice acting – all dialogue between characters is in text, however it’s often accompanied by grunts, laughs and other vocal effects suitable for the aesthetic we’ve come to know.  From gentle breezes to raging storms, meowing cats to the jingle of the equipment on my belt the sound effects in the game are suitable and applicable.  If for some reason you find any of them not to your liking the game sports numerous volume sliders to adjust to your personal tastes.  One thing I’d urge you not to turn down though is the musical score.  It’s completely orchestral and exceptionally well done, to the point I’d love to see a digital soundtrack released for this particular title.  Take a moment to pause at the main menu when you load the game and listen to the opening song – it’s worth your time.

THE FUTURE

Prideful Sloth have mentioned numerous times in the Steam forums that they are keen to create downloadable content for Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles.  To be clear, in my time with the game it never felt like an incomplete product, there is just simply so much more you could do with the game given time and money.  I wont lie, at times the world does feel a little empty, and any possibility of sharing the world with a friend would be greatly welcomed.  There is clearly the opportunity to do more in terms of farming, crafting and customisation as well, not to mention fish to catch and cats to find.

SUMMARY

I can’t recommend Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles enough!  As someone who enjoys exploring worlds, collecting hidden objects, crafting, farming and the like this game is a dream come true.  If I wasn’t lucky enough to have received my copy of the game for review purposes this would have been a day one purchase for me.  Prideful Sloth have done an outstanding job with this title and I urge you to pick up your copy post haste on either PC or Playstation 4.

The fact that Prideful Sloth are an Australian (Brisbane) based developer sweetens the deal even that much more.

Score: 95%

Reviewed On: PC
Review System: i7 6700k, 1070GTX, 32GB DDR4
Playtime: 20+ Hours

Official Website – https://www.yonderchronicles.com/
Steam Page – http://store.steampowered.com/app/580200/Yonder_The_Cloud_Catcher_Chronicles/
JB Hi-Fi – https://www.jbhifi.com.au/games-consoles/platforms/playstation-4/yonder-the-cloud-catcher-chronicles/449125/
EB Games – https://ebgames.com.au/ps4-230822-Yonder-The-Cloud-Catcher-Chronicles-PlayStation-4

Looking for more? Check out my quick play video talking about the subjects above and get a look at the game in action –

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