YONDER: THE CLOUD CATCHER CHRONICLES
By Jef "JeffAlpha" P. on July 17, 2017
Welcome back, casual and hardcore gamers alike. Before I get into the game I would like to get something out of the way. This is my second review for DumeeGamer.com. It's about Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles which is coming out on July 18th for PC and PS4 and I'm super excited. Actually getting to review games that are on my wish list is awesome, right!? From what I've seen so far, Yonder looks like a colorful open world indie RPG that will inspire a sense of childlike adventure.
So, lace up your hiking boots, grab your fishing rod, get out there and.. explore.. stuff! Now that we set the tone with some youthful enthusiasm, one might argue that we are in the right mind state to talk about Yonder. Like I mentioned, Yonder is an open world Indie Role Playing Game. The developer, Prideful Sloth, from Down Under is said to be a 3 (wo)man team. Which is pretty incredible if you ask me. They pride themselves in building "beautiful worlds to explore, traverse and experience", and Yonder is their first project.
Right of the bat, you can tell Prideful Sloth does not mess around. The title screen looks bright and has that typical, somewhat retro, RPG feel. Giant golden lettering with The O in Yonder looking like some sort of mystical object of great importance. Behind the title, looking out over the water you can make out a sunny sky over a distant island. Of course it wouldn't be a RPG if there wasn't a female voice hymning in the background.
The opening sequence is pretty ominous. After customizing the appearance your character a brief monologue mentions a child being sent away from its homeland because said homeland is "poisoned by darkness". The first interactive scene lets you run up and down a sailboat talking to the crew until you get caught in a storm which leaves you shipwrecked. After waking up in a cave It doesn't take long before you encounter a sprite. No, not the drink but a furry kind of fairy. Trust me when I say that the cuteness in this game never ends. The whole game looks like a cuddly kid's cartoon. Although the artwork is different, it kinda reminds me of The Windwaker. Not only is there a day and night cycle, which is beautiful by the way, but the seasons also change. Running around at night with the soft light of a handheld lantern shining on nearby objects looks very good. Interactions with NPCs are brief and no nonsense which is somewhat rare for RPGs. This helps though, since the game does not have voice-overs, thus making you read dialogue.
Of course the first thing to do when being stranded is finding the nearest settlement. The game not only gives you a map (which is super useful) but also a celestial compass, the likes of which would even impress Jack Sparrow. This compass guides you to the next objective for any selected quest. This is where Yonder's storyline takes a backseat. Instead of finding the nearest village I took a hard left looking for other stuff to explore. Throughout the game I kept getting sidetracked and went off road at any opportunity. There was always something non quest related in the distance that caught my attention. Whether it was something sparkly, glowing, towering or just more exclamation marks luring me to accept more quests. The controls feel somewhat sluggish but then again the game does not demand difficult maneuvering. The main focus lies on gathering recourses, trading recourses with villagers and farming resources. And by farming I mean, actually building your own farm, domesticating animals and planting crops.
This would be the part where I tell you all about the many dangers in Yonder's open world. About how I was anxious to run through open fields at night fearing the attention my lantern might attract from evil creatures lurking behind every tree and under every rock. None of this is true however. Yonder has no combat. I never had to worry about being attacked or if my gear was good enough for the next boss encounter. So, I jumped off the first cliff I came across. I mean, come on, there's gotta be fall damage right? Well, halfway through my freefall my character opened a rainbow colored umbrella making him softly touch down. When trying to find out if my character could swim the open sea I sank like a rock, only to find myself respawn on shore unharmed. These mechanics might not be for everyone, but it sure makes for relaxing gameplay. It feels like a casual, accessible and a peaceful alternative to a lot of other games out there.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a great looking game. The Gameplay feels like a Mario64/Animal Crossing/Jak and Daxter mash-up. Not having any combat might feel awkward for hardcore gamers but it opens the door to casual gamers, gamers of all ages and just anyone who needs a break from videogame violence. Yonder proves that there is still plenty to do without being bombarded by enemies. Prideful Sloth set out to create a fun and immersive world that invites you to keep exploring. And so they did. I, for one, can only say that I'm already looking forward to their next project!
YONDER: THE CLOUD CATCHER CHRONICLES
July 18, 2017