Game: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Platform: PlayStation and Windows
Rated: E for Everyone
Are you tired of shooting inter-dimensional aliens or fighting for glory in marital arts tournaments? Do you long for a calmer, more tranquil video game experience? With the gameplay style of Harvest Moon and the visuals of The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles could be the unique, family friendly indie adventure you have been waiting for.
Shipwrecked in Paradise
After creating your very own male or female avatar from a set of skin, hair, and eye colors, you begin your journey on the deck of a ship. From here you can become accustomed to the controls as you navigate the small space on the high sea, talking to your fellow sailors. Dialogue is conveyed through the use of subtitles in place of voice acting. Although there aren’t any Hollywood actors lending their voices to the inhabitants of Yonder, the sound design more than makes up for this, as players will discover after they become shipwrecked. That’s right; the charming character of your making ends up stranded in a dank cave. The sounds of the moist cavern are expertly applied, even though this section is the introduction to the game and its mechanics, the first location in which you find the first of many magical creatures called sprites.
Coming to Grips with Color and Scope
Upon leaving the cave, you are beholden to a vista of wondrous colors—a ravishment of the senses—and that’s when it becomes clear just how beautiful Yonder is. From the fathomless blue sky to shimmering—and at first seemingly endless, green grasslands—you realize this is one of the most gorgeous sandboxes to date, not to mention for an indie title. But this land is not all love and joy, a strange fog has taken hold of various parts of the island, and only you and your new magical sprite can relinquish its hold. At this point you would usually arm yourself with swords, guns, and all manner of explosives, but not in Yonder. In this more serene title, the objective is to gain further magical sprites by helping the locals and farming the land. There is no violence in this game, unless you consider chopping down trees and harvesting crops violence. You will find yourself trotting between the somewhat lifeless villagers, helping the cell-shaded men and women with gathering quests, which, will in turn, give you access to new items and crafting recipes, allowing you to make additional items, clothing, and even hair dye. The system is made as easy as possible by simply selecting the desired item from the in-game menu. The ability to craft certain objects is dependent on joinable guilds, accessible by aiding members. Dynamic weather effects supplement the experience, since participating in fetch quest after fetch quest can become rather tedious. Performing said quests at night by the glow of your lamp or amidst pouring rainfall can make it slightly more bearable. The farming is by far the game’s best gameplay element. You can construct buildings and lure endearingly animated animals with harvested food.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is astonishingly beautiful and refreshing. The ability to save your game at any point makes this a perfect game to quickly pick up, relieve stress, and put back down again. However, the somewhat stagnant villagers prevent it from providing as much long term entertainment as Harvest Moon or Animal Crossing.