Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an adventure game developed by Prideful Sloth as their introductory title on Steam. One of the very few to not be releasing into Early Access, Yonder instead goes for a full release at £18.99. Looking like a cute combination of Stardew Valley and Legend of Zelda, Yonder leaves a great first impression for any who watch their trailers or look at their screenshots. But you should never judge a book by its cover.
Our game starts off with our main character taking a long voyage aboard a ship, holding up a compass that points towards a nearby island, Gemea. Talking with our crew it seems all is well, until a violent storm erupts on the ocean, causing havoc to both you and your ship. Getting knocked out in the chaos, our character wakes up in a cave, amongst a shipwreck. Finding a way out, our hero is able to befriend a Sprite, a magical creature that follows our hero out of the cave.
As we leave, we find a source of concern on Gemea, Murk, which is a dark miasma that blocks our path to certain areas and makes the land less accommodating. We are quickly given the task to find more sprites and help the people of Gemea, not before getting a gorgeous view akin to that of Breath of the Wild. You are quickly referred to as a sprite-seer, as only you can see these little beings, giving our hero a name and a purpose on the island.
From this point on you enter a free-roam world, with hidden items everywhere, sprites to collect, quests to complete, crafting to do. As such, a time is hard to pin onto this game, as there is some amount of exploring that is mandatory to find sprites. You’re looking at under 15 hours for story completion, and closer to 40-50 for 100%. There isn’t much in the way of replayability, as it is a free-roam and restarting means you have to do it all over again. Although you can spend plenty of time getting 100% or earning money through farming.
Yonder plays like many adventure games before it, WASD for movement, Space for jump, F or left click for interactions and Q or E to swap the item in your hand. You will be able to move around freely on the island, with only Murk blocking your path. Moving across the land you will be able to chop down trees, mine ore, cut grass and more using your tools. Doing all this demolition will reward you with materials, which you can use to craft new tools or items. Pressing TAB will open your menu, for putting on clothing, checking inventory, crafting and quests. You will also find your collection of sprites here.
There isn’t any true combat in Yonder, merely you combatting the obstacles blocking your path, or tackling quests given to you by the helpless natives. The Stardew Valley comparison quickly drops itself, when the only real farming to be had is on specific plots of land, with plenty of it being automated for you. Farm goods can be collected by a nearby chest on the farm. You can hire farm hands to make it even more automated, just shove pies and milk down their throat and they’ll love you.
Thankfully, the quests in Yonder aren’t too MMOish, no kills quests here. Though there are plenty of “go here do this” type of quests. The types of quests given to our hero does allow us to see the island in all its glory, but it does sometimes feel a bit forced. Plenty of them can be done by trading with the natives, with no real money on hand you must trade items of equal value to get something in return. So, hand over your lunch and that merchant will give you a plank of wood.
Yonder features both a day/night cycle and seasons, with a handy clock in the bottom left telling you all the seasonal details. These will change the look of the world, what shows up in it and how good your farming becomes. It is a nice touch, though feels a bit underutilised in some areas. The time becomes especially frustrating when you have to wait around for it to change, but with ample stuff to do on the side, you can busy yourself with other duties.
Overall thoughts and feelings
The music in Yonder is both calming and energetic, filling the void of traversal as well as improving the sense of discovery when you come across a new location. Utilising mostly piano and string instruments, the soundtrack flows lovely from track to track, alongside the ambient noises that suit both the style of the game and the areas you are exploring. Sadly there are too many times where the soundtrack is simply not played, leaving you with just the atmosphere of your surroundings and ambient noises. Yonder also employs a Simlish spoken language, adding to the cute vibe of the game, but to the annoyance of some players who want proper voice acting.
Yonder’s graphical style is gorgeous, going for a play-dough aesthetic with bright colours and smooth surfaces. It can be a bit under-polished in some areas, with plains or mountains looking a bit too washed out or undetailed, but for the majority, it keeps a stylised look. Its cute style could be enough to push away some players, as it seems more suited to children, but even then it has a certain charm to it.
Looking at the game from a purely Adventure standpoint, it does feel a bit too spread out. Taking too much time to travel from point A to point B, then C. Plenty of quests also ask you to collect a few items that can be far apart from one another. The hero has some sort of banana shoes, as his movement does continue on for a second, making some parkour annoying to do. The compass also only points directly to the objective, not to a path, and the island is sometimes labyrinthine in its layout.
Overall Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles gets a 7/10. It has some cute quirks, both in style and gameplay but suffers too much from that cute approach to design. The season mechanic keeps some of the game fresh but locks some stuff away. Crafting is quick and simple, combined with an easy to learn trading system in place for items you’re wanting to obtain. Traversal can feel a bit slow, while the areas you traverse can either look beautiful or too plain. Fans of adventure games should enjoy Yonder, but expectations should be metered a bit.