Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a special game. From the moment I first laid eyes on it, it immediately made me curious about it. The game clearly takes cues from franchises like Harvest Moon and The Legend of Zelda. It’s a much bigger game than I initially thought and creates a world that is so peaceful to play in. Playing it on the Switch has made for an even better way to play the game, allowing me small moments to pick up and play on the go.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles sees you play as yourself. You create your own character who, after many years away from the island of Gemea, returns home. On your journey home, a terrible storm causes you to crash on the island. Very quickly you discover that Gemea and all its inhabitants are terrorized by a mysterious purple haze known as the Murk. Your job is to clear the island of Murk and restore the land to its former glory.
Yonder is a unique game as it’s designed for pacifists. There is no combat in this game, no enemy that can hurt you. Your goal is simply to build the island back to its former glory. You do this by harvesting supplies to rebuild the land or help its inhabitants. The world is filled with trees to cut, rocks to smash, plants to harvest and animals to befriend. This makes Yonder quite unique, as there is never a moment that takes you out of the peaceful state the game wants you to be in. This is even more unique in Yonder with the fact that none of the features directly really tie into one another. The game allows you to explore, farm, harvest, and even take in some story elements, but each of those things exist as separate elements. Want to play the game as a farming sim? Go ahead. Want to explore the whole island and discover small story elements? Go ahead, it doesn’t affect your farming. You could completely play through this game without ever touching the story or without ever learning how to farm. That’s a really unique aspect of this game and one that fits perfectly on the Switch.
It should be noted how well this game looks and plays on Nintendo Switch. The game looks great in both handheld mode and docked mode. Its charming visuals never got old, and the sound design keeps you in a very peaceful mood. Yonder fits really well on the Switch. If you want to spend just a few minutes exploring the world, then playing this on the Switch is perfect. Want to spend a couple of minutes attending to things on your farm? Go right ahead, the quick nature of the Switch makes the game feel right at home.
With all that said, Yonder’s best quality of letting you play the game however you’d like presents a big issue. The game doesn’t have much of a campaign. It mostly involves exploring new towns, doing random fetch quests for residents, and then moving on to do the same thing again somewhere else. Yonder doesn’t focus on presenting a major story to carry you throughout the game. Speaking to villagers doesn’t help either. Pretty much every villager gives you the same exact task to do, with slight (and I do mean slight) differences. Most of the quests involve you going somewhere, finding this thing the quest-giving villager wants, grabbing the exact amount requested from the villager, and then bringing it back to them. After a short time, this gets very repetitive and makes the game feel like it’s lacking in variety. The other issue I had was that the game isn’t completely clear at times on how to accomplish certain objectives. One of the main things you need to do in the game to clear the island of Murk is to find special creatures known as Sprites. Gather enough Sprties and you can clear Murk from the island or from buildings. Problem is, the game isn’t exactly clear on where or even how to find them. Most of the Sprites I found were located through complete dumb luck. One of them I found in a statue, another one I found crying in the corner of a cave. Not going to lie…that last one was just really weird to find. For all its uniqueness, Yonder doesn’t really give you a reason to play the story because, well, there isn’t too much of a story.
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Publisher: Prideful Sloth
Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PS4, PC
Release Date: 18th July 2017 (PS4, PC), 17th May 2018 (Nintendo Switch)