Prideful Sloth’s adventure game Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles really took me by surprise. Fresh from investing all my free time in Stardew Valley, I was really craving a game similar to that and Yonder did not disappoint. Set in the beautifully charming world of Gemea, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles starts as all stories start, at the beginning. You, a nameless female or male protagonist set sail with a crew, a celestial compass and a bunch of weirdly shaped body and hair customisations to find the fabled land of Gemea, your home. A home you were sent away from by your parents as it was engulfed by murk. Although you weren’t really blessed in the looks department, you definitely make up for it in other ways as you explore, farm and fish your way through your homelands many beautiful landscapes.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles: PS4 [Reviewed]
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Publisher: Prideful Sloth
Release Date: 18 July 2017
Price: £18.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Developer/Publisher]
Gemea really is beautiful to explore, once you get over the fact that nobody really talks here. Conversations are performed through text as the NPC’s ooh and ahh their way through dialogue, although that’s a small slight you can overlook as the hours fly by. Your first goal is to seek help in the nearby village of Fairmont, home to some of the friendliest villagers you’ll ever meet, they feed you and give you a bed for the night before setting you on your way with the tools you’ll need to continue your quest. Sprites also serve as companions who aid in your journey, clear murk and just look cute in the process, if you can track them down.
With no combat, the bulk of Yonder’s gameplay comes in the form of collectibles and quests, although it doesn’t feel like a grind unless you really do want to find 55 missing cats dotted around the landscape (for the record, I did). Quests are shown on the minimap with a helpful exclamation point and everyone in Gemea seems to want something from you whether it’s helping to catch a fish, hunting down some runaway animals by tracking their quirky accessories or tracking down your missing crew, whom despite not even thinking Gemea existed have managed to find a place which is perfect for them all over the island.
It’s very easy to get sidetracked in Yonder, as you head towards your latest goal. You’ll have to show great self-control not to pick up every stick, rock and flower in your path but that’s where the game becomes slightly annoying; inventory management is a bit of a pain when you’re a hoarder that doesn’t want to leave a single thing behind. Luckily, as you clear the murk and build your many farms in different areas, you are blessed with a storage container that can hold more things than Mary Poppin’s seemingly endless bag, speaking of which, jumping off a high cliff or area to reach a path below has your character helpfully pulling out a rainbow umbrella from somewhere and gracefully gliding down.
Building up your farms is a simple yet satisfying task. As you progress you’ll spend resources you’ve collected building farms around the many areas which are small plots of land. Once built you can place animal pens down and adopt animals. To lure these beautiful creatures to your farm you’ll have to resort to bribery, figuring out which unique item each animal likes. Feeding them will result in hearts coming out their heads and they’ll willingly follow you to whatever place you desire. Yonder’s wildlife is lovingly created based on animals you are already familiar with, but with some cool alterations. Take the pig, for example, pigs in Gemea, are called Sprig-Pigs. Instead of rolling around covering themselves in dirty mud, they are enveloped in pretty, colourful flowers, adopting one will reward you with an array of flowers in your item chest.
Crafting also plays a big part in Yonder, for those that wish to partake in such things. A multitude of guilds looking for members are scattered all over and finishing their tasks will unlock new crafting recipes. From tinkers, tailors and cake makers, you can craft everything from clothes to a Sunday roast. Finish them all and you’ll unlock the quest to become a master artisan with new designs and things to discover. Food is a pretty handy thing to make, with more bribery required to get NPC’s to work on your farm cleaning up animal poop and harvesting crops. Once you’ve filled their stomachs, you can send them to a farm of your choice although once there you’ll never see them again. You could always just spend hours cleaning up the poop yourself.
The open world island of Gemea is a visual marvel to behold. Each region is completely different from the other, from the snow capped mountains of Numino peak, the bright tropical beaches of Crestfall Coast and the expanse of sand as far as the eye can see in Radiant Sands, wandering upon these areas will have you stop for a second to admire the beauty of it. With an ever changing weather and season system, you’ll be trudging through fallen snow, rain and even storms with each season and time of day holding secrets for you to discover.
With Gemea being so big, it makes sense to have some form of fast travel otherwise you’ll be spending the majority of your time running from place to place. Each area has a Sage stone, similar to the demon doors in Fable that had you perform specific tasks before it unlocked. Once open, you can travel from statue to statue quickly. Of course, it would have been more convenient to travel to each village from the map, this way requires some walking if you’re nowhere near a statue at the time. There are also teleporters which transport you across the map but are only open at a specific time of day, so you’ll either have to wait or just leg it to your destination depending on your level of impatience.
To make your character unique to you, the game is full of different backpacks, hats, hairstyles and outfits. Whether you craft them, loot them from a treasure chest or just simply trade your belongings for them at a store, your character will never be lacking in the fashion department.
Although a great experience, Yonder isn’t without its slight problems. On occasion, my game would freeze or I’d be walking in a slow judder, it also completely crashed kicking me out at one point. This doesn’t happen frequently enough for it to be a major slant against what is such a good game but occasionally it will annoy you, hopefully with a future fix it won’t be an issue at all.
Prideful Sloth’s very relaxing take on gameplay means you can prioritise the things you enjoy, although if you just focused on the main quest your experience with this visually stunning and charming game would be a short one, Yonder has so many more aspects that are a joy to discover and exploration is very satisfying as venturing away from the main path has many rewards. One of the great things about Yonder is that no matter what you do, you always feel like you are progressing whether it be building your farms up to how you want them with a variety of things to craft, discovering all the games secrets and unlocking sage statues or just finding the most fashionable outfit to make your character stand out from the crowd, it really does have something for everyone and you’ll soon notice the hours disappearing. If excessive combat is bringing you down and a relaxing experience with great rewards is what you seek, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is jam-packed with everything you’d expect from this type of game, it’s so simple and fun you could even let your kids enjoy it, once you’re done of course, so stop reading and play it now.