Casual gamers looking for an easy introduction to the current maze of sprawling open world adventure games need look no further than Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. When I first started playing this charming title, anybody who saw me gaming would comment, “I didn’t know you had Breath of the Wild?” And while the similarities are there, Yonder is its own beautifully crafted world. A world without urgency or danger, where you can get lost for hours in a quest to build a bridge or catch a fish.
You begin the game voyaging in search of a lost land, under the guidance of a magic compass. This plan goes awry when a storm hits and our protagonist wakes up washed ashore. From there, it really doesn’t seem like the story matters that much. As you leave the confines of the starter area and emerge into a gorgeously imagined world, you’ll instantly get side-tracked. I forgot there was a main quest for hours as I played, which speaks a lot about how fun the world is to explore. When the sun goes down, the sunset makes the rolling hills and lakes glow. The towns twinkle in the distance and the skybox lights up with shooting stars and glowing constellations, an extravagant amplification of the night sky often hidden in our own world.
The game boasts eight different biomes to explore. Each of these comes with its own speciality for crafting, which makes up a large portion of the time I spent playing the game. The oceanside village specialises in cooking for example, the mountaintop village specialises in construction. Crafting is a fun, but time-consuming addition to the game. Building a stone bridge took hundreds of stone units, and by the time I finally got it constructed and reached the other side to find what reward (or lack of reward) was on offer, I was thoroughly over collecting stone. But I soon racked up another three missions to build the same stone bridge, which was the first time I let out a sigh of dismay. The thought of grinding that long for little payoff didn’t seem appealing at all. The game is so full of things to collect it can seem a little overwhelming, and the fast travel system relies on unlocked portals, one for each biome.
Adrenaline junkies will not find Yonder to their taste. I was a little shocked at the lack of combat, or for that matter weapons, in an open world title that looked as polished as this one. But as my journey continued, I found that this wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, I relished the fact that this world seemed to genuinely want my help, instead of hampering my ability to assist. Naturally I decided to climb the tallest mountain and throw myself off it, almost as if to challenge the peaceful nature of the game. It was hard not to smile as my character opened a brightly coloured umbrella, and descended slowly to the ground below. Yonder actually makes it impossible to die.
The major obstacle, and indeed the motivation for continuing the main story, is a mysterious substance called ‘Murk’. Scattered about Gemea, it blocks access to chests, new farms, and other collectables. To disperse the murk, you must collect sprites, either by solving puzzles or finishing quests.
I will say that I sunk more hours into Yonder than I thought I would. Collecting ingredients for crafting can be addictive – it’s like a perfectionist’s dream challenge. I found it relaxing, therapeutic, a great way to unwind after a stressful day or a particularly competitive first-person shooter. I recommend Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles for younger casual and mainstream gamers alike, because there’s certainly something there for both. Though the older crowd may find something genuine here as well.
You can find out more about Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles and buy it for $24.99 USD here.