Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles (EU) Reviews

AuthorReview
Slam-Shot-Sam
58,101 (38,505)
Slam-Shot-Sam
TT Score for this game: 1,114
Posted on 06 August 17 at 23:11
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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles | PS4 | Review

There’s no doubt that Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a thoroughly lovely game, but does the lack of threat, resulting from its mild demeanour, prevent the adventure from being a truly compelling one?

Separated from their parents as a youngster, the nameless protagonist of your creation, now come of age, sets sail in order to return home. They arrive to discover the darkness they fled has engulfed much of the land, so you’ll need to help them banish the grim fog (known as Murk) and repair the titular Cloud Catcher before they can reach their destination.

Murk is the closest thing to an antagonist in Yonder - there are no enemies or combat encounters here - though it doesn’t actually pose any danger, serving more as a gating mechanic to control progression. You’ll need a specific number of fairy-like Sprites, generally found in areas emanating a blue glow, to clear any one patch.

Seeing this mission through is a brief and straightforward process, even netting you a trophy/achievement titled “That was easy” for finishing the main questline. It’s underwhelming, with the ending being particularly lame, but, fortunately, the side content is far more substantial.

As you peruse Yonder’s open world you’ll encounter swathes of NPCs that offer up tasks in pun-laden, text-based exchanges. Many of these are bog standard fetch quests, though there’s no sting in the tail as the required materials are generally in the immediate vicinity, or carried by local traders. All’s good even when that isn’t the case, as the main pleasure to derive from Yonder is being left to explore its beautiful and varied environments without being nagged by important objectives, though still having some gentle direction so it doesn’t feel like you’re wasting your time.

Eight regions, each with their own rich biome, are seamlessly linked to comprise the sizeable map. The game’s soft visuals imbue locales with a warm and inviting quality, while toy-like characters and adorably cute animals animate in twee fashion, making for a presentation that’s hard not to coo over. Add day/night, seasonal and weather cycles into the mix and the world takes on a life of its own.

You’ll welcome the opportunity to lose yourself and potter about for hours on end, which is a good thing, as these trips generally yield valuable resources, mined, chopped and gathered with your conventional array of tools. Not only that, but there are points of interest absolutely everywhere, meaning you’ll forever be finding intriguing secrets, references and Easter eggs that, along with the whimsical score, compel you to forage on.

Once you’ve uncovered the whole map, which it's worth noting will be deep into the game, the cycle unfortunately sours somewhat. Backtracking through locations becomes laborious, which isn’t helped by the flawed implementation of fast travel. You have to discover and complete a quest to unlock each of the eight designated fast travel points, walk to the closest one before you can make use of the system (making it not-quite-so-fast travel), then, in the absence of clear labelling, guess as to which exit might lead to your desired location.

If you don’t mind some extra legwork you can also choose to adopt a number of vocations, joining guilds to expand your library of crafting recipes and building farmland to harvest produce used in those recipes. Building structures on a farm allows you to house wild animals after coaxing them onto your plot, as well as to plant trees and crops, which you can then hire a farmhand to tend. There’s no great need to engage with this stuff, you’ll get by just fine without farming or joining the guilds, but there’s fun to be had regardless.

Yonder has a number of clear inspirations - many of which come from Nintendo’s camp, so fingers crossed the game eventually sees a Switch release - but carves out its own corner by providing a unique mix of their elements. While some of the ingredients leave plenty to be desired, its positive themes and relaxed atmosphere provide a welcome break from the onslaught of bombastic video games that everyone can enjoy for a while.

Pros

+ Warm, inviting presentation
+ Beautiful, interconnected world to get lost in
+ Loads to discover
+ Relaxed atmosphere that helps to unwind
+ Quest structure lets you dictate the pace

Cons

- Main storyline is too brief and falls flat
- Clumsy fast travel system takes some of the joy out of exploration
- Easy to ignore farming and guilds

7/10

Trophies

Yonder is an easy completion, there's nothing skill-reliant here. It can be a bit of a grind, so staying committed is all that stands between you and 100%.

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Originally written for Pass the Controller, a copy was provided for the purpose of this review.

You can check out my Xbox One reviews over at TrueAchievements.

Thanks for reading!
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