Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an adventure game from developers Prideful Sloth which places you into a rich, open world of sprites and people living their lives. You begin the game aboard a ship which is struck by lightning causing you and the crew to be washed up on the island of Gemea. Once you find your feet, you’re then tasked with collecting sprites hidden across the island and saving the land from a dark presence known as Murk. The sprites are the only way to remove the Murk and as you gather more sprites you’re able to progress and clear greater areas of Murk. In-between, you’re pretty much free to act as an agent to help the populace with their problems whilst gaining skills in the process. That’s pretty much the crux of the game on offer here but it’s the execution which has to be commended.
Once you’ve taken in the rather colourful world, you’re free to approach your experience how you see fit. Sure, there’s some introduction which herds you towards the nearest village where you’re given a few rudimentary tasks, but after completion it’s just you and the open world to explore. This is very much a game of exploration and discovery and whilst you can easily track the main story mission and any side quests you have, stumbling across something new happens frequently.
It has to be reiterated here though that this is no action adventure or even survival experience, nothing dies and there are no enemies to fight. You don’t need to worry about food, water and health and can just plod on as you see fit. In some ways the inclusion of these elements could have made for a more gripping adventure but as it stands Prideful Sloth opted for a chilled out experience free of the usual adventure game tropes. This works, and in some ways is quite refreshing as you become inundated with fetch quests, and embark on learning the skills of tailoring, cooking, stonework and even a touch of farming to name but a few. It’s very placid in its approach and if this style doesn’t hook you, then sadly nothing else on offer will.
As mentioned, the game’s visuals offer vibrant and defined colours which change via a real-time day and night cycle and even across seasons. There’s some neat wind, lighting and shadow effects making for a pleasing game on the eyes at all times. Audio is also relaxing and very fitting to your actions. Sadly, there’s little imagination with the world’s inhabitants who look simple and offer basic interactions with no real depth to their characters which is shame given the lack of direction here. In some ways, the gameplay feels like it could be so much more and leaves you hankering for a bit more variation after extended hours of play.
You can get lost in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles questing and gathering materials, trading with the traders and various activities. So for the investment you’ll get a solid amount of play time out of it. The question remains, who is this game made for? At a glance you might think younger players into Minecraft will enjoy this (and they should), but the lack of action and freedom to create is somewhat a limitation. Adults can enjoy what’s on offer here as well, but there are other games which offer similar experiences with more features. At the end of the day if you’re simply tired of waving swords or shooting guns and prefer something less taxing, then you’ll find some solace here. That said, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles feels like the foundations of something much more encompassing where a game which adhered to more than just those who want to chill-out might have been more preferable. As it stands, there’s a pretty but subdued experience here which is only going to appeal to a segment of gamers who don’t want the drama of worrying about life and death scenarios.