From developer and publisher Prideful Sloth comes Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, a 3rd-person open-world adventure and simulation game that has you exploring the island world of Gemea. Composed of eight distinctive environments, each of them full of different things to do, this world opens itself up to you for an adventure you can enjoy at your own pace
As you’re traveling back to your childhood home island of Gemea, a storm takes over and leaves you shipwrecked! While unconscious the island’s magical Sprites contact you, pleading for you to help find the rest of the Sprites so you can ultimately remove the purple Murk from wreaking havoc on the island. Waking up with your new task at hand, it’s up to you to be the savior of Gemea!
Having taken inspiration from games like Breath of the Wild, Animal Crossing, and even Skyrim, Yonder attempts to have its gameplay elements cross between multiple genres in order to create its own unique experience. Your primary goal of the game is discovery, though, and your objectives boil down to a few simple concepts: discover villages to interact with locals and get new quests, build up your farm to grow resources and house animals, and collect resources that are scattered around the island. All of these objectives come in addition to the original call to clear the island of Murk, but most of your time will be spent doing these few things.
As you continue to interact with villagers and complete their tasks, you’ll quickly discover that each one is really just a fetch quest, challenging you to gather a variety of different materials just to bring them back to the same villager. This questing process quickly becomes monotonous and frustrating, mostly because it’s required in order to get new tools or crating recipes and isn’t something you can skip or do any differently.
The more quests you complete in Yonder, the more items you can craft. This is essential because trading is also important in this game. I wish crafting were easier though, as the interface is not very intuitive and takes some serious finagling in order to figure out. Unlike some simulation games where you can sell your crafted items for money and use that money to purchase other items, this game takes out the currency piece and instead opts for a system entirely reliant on trading goods for other goods. This helps add weight and value to the things you really have to work hard to craft, and definitely adds some much needed incentive to the game through the form of valuing your resources.
While this game has taken inspiration from some truly great titles, it fails to really combine the gameplay elements in a way that is both successful and true to the play-at-your-speed idea it advertises. I already expressed my frustration with the crafting system, but the game also forgoes combat, and really fails to provide reasoning or drive behind your actions. Yes your goal is to clear the island of the Murk, but what is the price that will be paid if you don’t? The answer is simple, there is no price to pay and this is one of the biggest problems I have with this game, I just don’t have sufficient reasoning or motivation to do what needs to be done.
One of the bright spots of this game lies in its presentation. It combines some truly gorgeous cell-shaded art with an incredibly dynamic and active lighting system that highlights shading and movement. The graphics really breathe life into this game by making the world spectacular. The same cannot be said for the character designs though, as both the creatures and humans feel overly cartoonish and caricatured at times. The facial designs are also quite blurry and difficult to look at for long periods of time. The soundtrack is what I would call the B-sides of Minecraft. It’s very relaxing and adds to the overall mood and idea of free roaming and exploration. The soundtrack helps you get lost in the game, and it’s unfortunate that the other gameplay elements can’t lend themselves to this same idea.
While Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles encourages exploration and puts an emphasis on trade and the value of items, the game failed to keep me engaged because of its lack of ability to motivate me to continue through. The graphics work well and the soundtrack is a nice compliment, but the ambitious task of combining so many different gameplay elements falls very short. Throw on a roughly $30 price tag and I would not recommend this game and ultimately have to say it’s a Nintendon’t.
Platform – Nintendo Switch eShop Download & Physical Edition (Amazon)
Publisher – Prideful Sloth
Developer – Prideful Slot
Price – $29.99 (digital download) & *30.99 (physical edition)
Genre – Adventure, Simulation, Lifestyle, Role-Playing
Size – 1.3GB
*This is the physical price at the time of publishing and is subject to change
A native of Minnesota, Brandon has been an avid Nintendo fan for as long as he can remember and enjoys being able to escape into the vast worlds offered in their games. Some of his favorite games include: Pokemon Blue & Silver, Earthbound, The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, Risk of Rain 2, and of course LoZ: Breath of the Wild.
Outside of gaming Brandon enjoys riding motorcycle, listening to music or podcasts, cooking, watching movies, and is a big sports fan. He is always carrying his Switch with him wherever he goes, so feel free to add him if you’d like to lose at MK8D.