Not all games must revolve around a ‘failure’ system. A game over is not a requirement in a video game, as much as some would like to believe. Even combat isn’t needed if done properly. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles sets out to present the player with a vast, vibrant, and very charming world prepped for discovery and adventure. Part Minecraft, part Harvest Moon; but does it pull it off?
You play the part of a young adventurer, sent away from their homeland and parents as an infant, with only a magic compass and a letter. In this letter your parents explain that they had to send you away due to a sort of plague called ‘murk’, that has infested the city. They sent you away in hopes that one day you can follow said compass to find the truth, and perhaps make the world a little brighter along the way. You are able to customize your character by creating either a male or female avatar, which can have various hair colors, skin tones, etc. While the clothing and hair options are limited upon creation, you will come across lots of options as you plunder the world of Yonder.
You are presented with an open-world where nearly everything can be crafted from everything. You’ll find yourself cutting down tall grass, trees, and mining to craft various items for yourself and others. You’re even able to build a farm in which to grow plants and house various adopted animals. These plants and animals then automatically produce items for both crafting and trading; and with the trading system this game uses, you’ll need the spare items.
Instead of the usual monetary selling system games use, this one is actually based on trading goods. You are required to swap goods for at least the same value as those you wish to obtain. These prices vary based on trader location and the player’s craftsmanship abilities. All of this will help you complete your ultimate goal of removing the ‘murk’ that has driven the people away from parts of the land, yourself included.
You can upgrade your crafting abilities by joining and completing various craftsmen “guilds”, each with their own master and challenge quests. Upon completing these guilds, you will be awarded a multitude of new blueprints for craftable items, along with a badge that you can adorn on your backpack. I found these quests to feel incredibly rewarding, and I honestly couldn’t stop myself from completing them all, if only to see all the goods I could create.
If I had to find a downside to the world, it would be within the map and fast travel system. Whilst fast travel does exist, you are likely to only “unlock” it once you’ve finished the game. I assume this is purposely done to encourage exploration, and I totally understand that, but I did find myself lost a few times and would have appreciated a quicker way back to my farm or village. This, mixed with the lack of a distance tracker on waypoints, means you may find yourself going towards a dead end more than once along your journey.
Visually the game uses an animated and vivid look somewhat similar to ‘Windwaker’. The world is a wonderfully vibrant and varied land, growing only more aesthetic with the changing of the seasons. Wind blows the leaves, the trees, and the brush. Rain and snow fall from the sky creating an almost living painting on your screen. The art style is both refreshing and suitable for what this game offers. You truly feel as if you are in another, a more simple world.
The audio is just as charming as the rest of the game. Lovely melodies play a calming, soothing song that adds to the overall atmosphere of exploration and discovery. Sound effects are also well done, such as random bird calls, or the crunching of snow and ice under your feet.
Overall, Yonder is a wonderfully charming and relaxing title that proves you don’t need death or combat to create a memorable game experience. You’ll fall in love with the locals, the wildlife, and everything else you discover on this love letter to adventure and beauty. If you’re looking for a game that will allow you to sit back and relax while still feeling extremely accomplished, then look no further.