For me, games that have a great story, or a way to relax me after a stressful day at work is something I look for these days. Rogue-lite games do my head in, games like Dark Souls truly piss me off, roll, roll, roll, hit, roll, roll, roll, this is not the type of game, I want to chill with. Games like The Witcher 3, Zelda: Breath of the Wild, or even Dragon Quest Builders, I can sit there for hours and enjoy my time in the game, chuck on Fortnite, well, I just find it repetitive and somewhat boring.
So enter Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, a game that I would not consider playing if it was not for the graphics and somewhat enjoyable gameplay trailers provided by the game developers. What was I expecting, with a game with no chance of dying and zero combat? well, let us find out.
Before we move on to the review, when I first loaded this game on the Nintendo Switch, it seemed to hang on the developer’s logo for over 1 minute then load into the game, I honestly thought the game was broken, but how could that be, since it was a digital download? so I just waited.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles an open world RPG, with exploration at its heart, while designing, farming and helping others. You play a nameless character, shipwrecked on the island of Gemea which has been cursed, with a substance known as the ‘Murk’. It is your job, or should I say, your quest, to remove the murk and restore the island of Gemea to its former beauty.
The first thing I thought of when booting up the game was, is this a rip-off, of the Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild? no, it is not, there are similarities, plenty of help quests, a stunning world, and a protagonist which you do not know about. But that is about it, the biggest difference is the lack of any combat, nothing, nata, the game is devoid of any sort of combat what so ever. So sitting there, on my butt, wondering how am I going to enjoy a game, that is simply an exploration game and nothing else.
The basic concept of the game is to remove the ‘Murk’ from the island, how you do this is by finding and collecting as many sprites that are hidden around the island. When using the first sprite, you instantly understand that is was hard for the small creature, to remove just a small amount of the ‘Murk’, so in guessing, as you progress through the game you will need more and more to help remove this curse, by finding more sprites along the way.
The island of Gemea is a living, breathing, stunningly designed environment to traverse across, with seasons that impact the world around you in the way you would expect to see in the real world. There is also a night and day cycle, sunrise, the world awakens, sunsets, the world sleeps. The art design, colours, lighting, even the draw distance is simply stunning and by far a great achievement from the indie developers.
As you already know what you have been tasked with, how do you go about this? well through quests and side quests, but questing is not the only thing you will be doing. You will be building a crafting to your heart’s content. Building farms as an example to grow plants, trees, and fruit and to holster animals. Building Farms is a good source of income, as trading is one of the main methods of currency in the game and owning farms, I would say is something you need to push forward in the game. Crafting is another way to experience the game, like construction, or cooking or even tailoring, and each crating ability has its own guild. Guilds help you develop and offer new recipes and will help you grow as a crafter. You will find, owning a farm and exploring the island, works out well for you, as everything you collect or grow on your farm is used to either help you or help the inhabitants.
So now it comes down to control and navigation, you do have a nifty compass that shows you where you should be going with a beam of light, something that can be very handy if you have been on a long adventure checking out the environment and collecting items and forgotten when the hell was your supposed to be going before you wandered off. Movement of the character is a bit of a hit and miss, jumping on rocks seems like an endless battle at times, as you can jump and get nowhere, and sometimes the rocks kick you off. Falling is fun as well, as the nameless character will pull out an umbrella with a lantern on it, and when it turns dark, he/she pulls out a lantern to light the way.
I found my character lacked any personality, as the character creation screen is a little lacking in features which were a bummer. I would have loved to chosen different hairstyles, jewelry, facial features, clothing etc, but this is not to be, it is simple and basic, a shame really.
So after many hours in the game, what do I think of it, did I enjoy a game without any fighting, did I enjoy some of the rather cute creature designs? did I enjoy exploring the island of Gemea? what about the crafting and owning a farm or two. Well for some reason I did, the game makes you feel rather relaxed after a busy day at work and there is no need to rush through the game either, you can chill out and just roam around if you so wish. The Design and soundscape, for an indie game, is beyond anything I ever expect and I applaud them for that. There was some stuttering in the game, when the autosave feature, decided to save and a few minor clippings, nothing to really, stop you from enjoying the game.
The only things I wish for is the jumping in the game to be ironed out and a more feature-rich character creation screen, and oh yeah, the loading issue of the game on Nintendo Switch.