After twenty plus years of professional gaming, I must have fragged millions of worthless noobs in my career. That said even I, a professional gamer and slayer of men sometimes like a game that isn’t quite so violent from time to time. There’s something to be said for the comfort of a game like Stardew Valley, no-stress environments to unwind and relax in. Recently I was sent one such game to review, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles.
The game has been out for a while but it’s just now coming to Xbox One. I gave it a play and I must say I had quite a good time with it. Why don’t we talk about it!
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is fundamentally a game of adventure, an open world game that invites you to explore. It begins with the player character on a ship bound for a mysterious island. When lightning strikes the ship it is wrecked on the shore and the player is let loose to find their way. From there you travel to a small village, meet the locals and begin your quest. The island has been plagued with clouds of purple mist called the Murk, a mire that is choking the life from the land. Around the island, you collect sprites, tiny creatures hiding all over who you need to clear the Murk. Each cloud you encounter requires a certain number of sprites to clear, and here is the main loop of the game. Follow the main quest, collect sprites, clear the Murk. There is plenty more to do than that, however.
While you always have the main quest to follow, there are plenty of side quests that you will pick up along the way. However, being quite a minimal game there isn’t a whole lot of variety to these side quests. In each area, there will be farms for you to build and people to keep happy, but the majority of the side content tends to be fetch quests for NPCs. While the gameplay isn’t particularly interesting here, there is plenty of dialogue from the people you meet. This little island has plenty of people with something to tell you, my particular favourite is the lady who’s ambition it is to become the greatest comedian ever and will share her new jokes with you as you meet her around the island.
While the game features crafting mechanics and the aforementioned farm building systems, these are fairly thin. You’re not here to become a farmer or a trader. These things are surplus to your story, a reason to keep you in one area for more than a few minutes. Your real goal in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is exploration. Only through exploring the map for yourself will you track down more of those vital sprites. This game takes some cues from Breath of the Wild, including “borrowing” the opening few minutes. like in BotW you are given a gorgeous landscape the explore, you have an ultimate goal but you must go explore the island in order to achieve it.
This game really is stunning by the way, the island is a joy to explore. Like BotW it nails that open world vibe of seeing things off in the distance and being drawn to them. This little island manages to contain a host of different biomes, grasslands, desert, mountains, and rivers. My personal favourite is the northern coast, a frozen area of snow and ice where the rocky coast is a deep emerald green. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a treat for the eyes.
It’s hard to say much more on this kind of game without taking away from the experience of playing it. The main hook of Yonder is the joy of exploring, and it lands that well. In the realm of relaxing good times, there are some gems. Those games we turn to when life is stressful enough and frankly we don’t need a game we have to think about.
Like Stardew or Harvest Moon, just a good time in a game where you can’t lose. In my opinion, Yonder is a strong addition to this category. I wouldn’t personally see it as a game I would come back to regularly as the other games mentioned, but for its duration, it is plenty of fun. Most of all, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a beautiful world to escape to when the real one is getting you down.