Review: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles (PlayStation 4)
- Release Date (NA): July 18, 2017
- Release Date (EU): July 18, 2017
- Publisher: Prideful Sloth
- Developer: Prideful Sloth
- Genres: Adventure
- ESRB Rating: Everyone
- PEGI Rating: Three years and older
- Also For: Computer
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
Yonder: The Fetch Quest Chronicles
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles follows the adventures of a “Sprite-Seer”, AKA you. The game starts you off on a ship with you and your “celestial compass”, a device that shows you the location of whatever quest you’re on, as you sail closer to this mysterious, foggy, fairy tale island of Gemea. After talking to everyone on the ship, oh no! A strange storm appears out of nowhere! And oh no! A lightning bolt hits the ship and you black out! But of course, you’re totally fine, and wake up in a heaven-esque world where you meet the “mother of the sprite” who names you Sprite-Seer. As you awake in the real world, you discover yourself in a cave with your shipwrecked ship, and as you make your way out you discover your first sprite and new companion, Lumine. With the help of Lumine, you clear your first bit of Murk blocking your passage forward, leave the cave...and are given a nice copy of BOTW’s intro “zoom out to world reveal” camera trick.
The first thing you’ll notice when you jump into Yonder is the weird FOV and camera controls. They’re just straight up awful and suffer from weird tunnel vision issues. But the second thing you’ll notice is there’s just so much to do. Yonder is an open world game with almost nothing stopping you from doing...well, pretty much anything. You can basically ignore the main quest of the game, build a farm, and lure animals to your farm from across the world. Or you can sit near any body of water and fish until your bag explodes. Or you can explore the island, find every plant, cut down every tree, pick up any seed, mine any mining spot, pick up all the random kittens thrown about the world (yes, that’s an actual objective) and find random sprites around the island until your bag explodes. The only thing that you really have to worry about is the Murk...but the Murk doesn’t do anything to you but block your path, that’s it, and clearing it is pretty simple. All you have to do is collect little Sprites that are scattered across the world, with each pile of Murk requiring a certain number of Sprites to be found. This can end up being fairly time consuming, as Gemea is indeed a fairly large island, but otherwise there’s nothing really difficult about it.
Being an open world game, you’ll find plenty of side quests and extra things to do as you explore the island, but Yonder has the unfortunate nature of making almost every side quest a fetch quest of some kind. Sometimes it’s plants, sometimes it’s fish, sometimes it’s people or animals, but regardless of where you’re at or how far in the game you are, it’s a fetch quest. As you travel the world, you’ll also come across gaps or rivers that require certain items to be crafted so you can make a bridge, but even these are essentially fetch quests as all you’re doing is finding the materials somewhere in the world in order to build those bridges. And speaking of crafting...
One of the main mechanics that Yonder has is its basic profession system; you can learn various professions which will allow you to create items that help NPCs during sidequests. These include Carpentry, Tailoring, Brewing, Cooking, Construction, and Tinkering, and are fairly straightforward to use. Unfortunately, this crafting system has a relatively huge flaw: half the materials needed to make something (like mortar for various stone items) can only be bought from traders, and the supplies each trader has is limited to a certain amount per day. That means if you need, say, 50 things of mortar to create the stone arches and pillars needed to build a bridge and the only trader selling mortar has 7 total, you have to wait 7-8 in-game days before you can even build what you need, which is something like an hour or two in real time. There’s no other way to acquire these items other than trade for them, and sometimes these traders are located across the world from the quest itself. While there is a fast travel system in place, it’s very basic and each point requires a side quest be completed in order to be used. These fast travel points also only take you to and from each general region on the map, which may be across the entire region from the closest town with a trader in it. While the game uses the Celestial Compass to show you where your objectives are, the world map itself doesn’t have any kind of nav point system like you’d expect so you just have to blunder your way through trying to find places if you need to get to that one town (since they’re not the most obvious thing on the map). There’s also no currency system in Yonder. Every trade works on the barter principle where each item has a certain value which varies between traders This in itself is fine and works well, but your bag space is fairly limited, so you come across the conundrum of either having too many items and nothing to buy, or having too little items and no way to buy things. There are storage boxes that you can access when you build farms, but they may be located across the map from whatever item you want to pickup, or from the trader you need to buy from.
The world of Yonder, Gemea, is fairly well put together. The game uses a cel-shaded graphical style that ends up looking pretty good for the most part, though it suffers from occasional texture pop-in on the PS4 version. There are 9 regions in Yonder, each with a different climate; a snowy area, a forest region, desert, grassland, etc which gives the game a fairly well-rounded setting. Each region has it’s own little animals and creatures you can befriend, such as Groffles, Grass Foxes, Sprigpigs and other various animals as well as different flowers and trees that you can cut down and plant. You can customize the appearance of your character with in-game items, like hats, bows, different types of shirts and pants, sunglasses and even different hair dyes like "Galaxy" or "Rainbow". The game also features a fair amount of easter eggs. I managed to stumble across a portal from Rick and Morty, a message from the devs in an area you’re not technically supposed to be able to climb to, Mary Poppins references, and even a “troll island”, where I found little hairy trolls surrounded by poop, each troll breaking the fourth wall and complaining about the game in some way (like my BOTW comment above!).
+ Big world with a lot of things to do.
+ Fairly gorgeous world.
+ Fun easter eggs scattered around the game.
- No currency system + limited bag space = bad.
- Fast travel is way too limited for a big, open world game.
- No nav points on the map make it difficult to navigate some areas.
- Poorly thought out crafting system.
Yonder looks pretty good. While there are some occasional graphical issues like texture pop ins and missing NPC models, it's nothing that truly distracts from the world overall. The different settings, while cliche, are well enough designed that you'll enjoy playing no matter where you're at.
There may seem to be a lot of things to do in Yonder, and there is to a certain degree, but unfortunately a vast majority of them includes "find this item, bring it to me!" and crafting items that take hours to collect and buy. Some small tweaks like better fast travel and better crafting recipes might help, but in the end you're still doing the same basic fetch quests throughout the game.
As mentioned, there's a lot to do in Yonder. If you want to 100% the game, it'll take you a fair long while as there are a lot of little side quests, Murks to purify, farms to create, animals to collect, Sprites to find, and various other little activities that should keep you occupied for a while.
out of 10
(not an average)
Overall, Yonder The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a decent game. If you don't mind mindlessly traveling across an entire map, collecting items and clearing various areas of the super evil Murk (that doesn't do anything), Yonder might be the game for you.