Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles managed to fly under my radar for just short of an entire year with its initial release on PlayStation 4 and Windows. Fast-forward and here we are with a release on Nintendo Switch and the Zelda: Breath of the Wild withdrawals couldn’t be any higher. Can Yonder fill that void or does it fall short of what the Switch has been known for thus far?
Yonder is an open-world adventure game with parallels to Breath of the Wild, there’s no escaping that fact. BoTW is easily one of the best open-world games ever made and to be compared to such a behemoth can only be daunting. That said, the world of Yonder – while much smaller in scale – features unique, vibrant and charming towns and terrain that easily sets itself apart from the rest. The island of Gemea in which the game is set is divided into eight distinct environments from lush green plains and mysteriously colourful forests. With a day-night cycle and changing seasons, the game constantly keeps the visual style moving with beautiful purpose.
The island of Gemea, once a paradise, it still is essentially, has been taken over by an evil murk that has enshrouded the land and thrown the people of Gemea into despair. You play as a child of Gemea who, for their entire life, has not known their homeland due to being sent away when the evil murk was unleashed. Many years later, you return to Gemea in an epic seafaring journey that goes wrong but lands you safely on the shores of Gemea.
Your role throughout the game is to contribute to the revival of Gemea through clearing the evil murk and a variety of different talents that you unlock as you progress through the game by completing quests. The story at large is delivered through quests with a good helping of side-quests to keep you busy in between. Thankfully, Yonder doesn’t fall into the fetch quest bloat fest and while a good deal of fetch quests exist within the game they are handled in such a way that they are intertwined with exploring new locations and meeting new characters.
The main meat of the game comes in the form of farming, crafting, cooking etc…there’s a good amount of features to unlock as you progress each allowing you more access to items to help you on your mission. As you adventure around the island of Gemea you’ll come across a variety of materials to collect that’ll help you complete quests and build better equipment, tools and buildings to help you as you work your farms and trade with locals. Gemea is full of areas that need revival such as new bridges, boats etc… so be sure to explore as much as you can.
On your adventures you’ll come across different animals, generally only a couple per environment, that you can befriend and take back to your farm to help produce resources used in trades and crafting. You can also befriend people, with items such as food, and hire them to work on your farms as a farmhand. Alongside a multitude of hidden treasures and goodies, you’ll also come across Sprites, these little fairy-like creatures are useful in clearing the evil murk that is plaguing Gemea so it’s in your interest to search them out.
The game lacks one feature you would probably expect to see in a game like this and that’s combat. There’s no fighting whatsoever in the game and while it feels weird at first, the game really doesn’t need it. The crafting systems are so deep that you’ll have so much to fill your time that a fighting mechanic would unnecessarily bloat the game. There’s a great sense of freedom in being able to freely traverse the world without having to worry about being attacked and losing your items. It’s a bold move to go this route but easily the best choice for this game.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a gorgeous looking game with charming visuals that is a joy to traverse and explore. There’s plenty to keep you occupied with a deep crafting system, fun quests and characters. Just explore the world and take everything at your own pace and the game will reward you in kind.