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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles Review

March 21st, 2019 by

Yonder 001After being sent away as a child from your island home of Gamea, you return with shiny celestial compass in hand. Your task to bring the light back to the land. It’s a pretty straightforward story, but the game itself isn’t

The intro shows you on your journey home upon which you have a vision where a mysterious apparition tasks you with finding it’s sprite brethren and using them to help defeat the Murk, the darkness that curses the island. Here you can tell the game has been influenced by Breath of the Wild. Sprites are the small fairy like creatures hiding all over the island, much like Koroks and the opening scene in this game is very similar to when Link awakes from his slumber. That’s where any similarities end, however.

The first issue is the story. It grinds to a halt until you finish the main quest, and then what transpires on completion could have been jotted down on the back of a beer mat. It seems strange saying this, but someone seriously forgot to add something in the middle of the game that told you anything else. Yes, you talk to NPCs, but those conversations basically give you a mission to do. Completing the task gets you a thanks, sometimes an item, and nothing else.

Many other mechanics are in the game but they come without instruction or tutorial. There’s the usual crafting skills, some trading, and resource management in the form of farms to build and look after. The only problem is that it’s all a sideshow. Barring a couple of crafted items required to progress the main quest line, nothing matters. I ignored it all as it was just wasting time collecting resources to craft a pointless item. I could have created a couple of items to locate certain sprites, but as I didn’t need all of them to complete the game, I didn’t care enough to do so anyway. What it all boils down to is that the game could be completed in a few hours without too much effort.

Yonder 003

I initially though that it was almost like a “My First Adventure Game”, specifically designed for the younger gamer in mind. The controls in the game are simple and straightforward as is the NPC interaction, as well as the celestial compass you carry with you always points the way in a quest. There’s also no weapons or combat in the game. All adding up to something that young kids could easily get the hang of.

Then it spoils this with the pointless and complex trading, crafting, farming mechanics, and some quests that can be quite obscure in their objectives. The addition of locking areas required to progress the game behind the Murk, which need you to possess the correct number of sprites to clear, would also deter the younger gamer. Locating some of these sprites can be quite a feat, some of them more blind luck than anything. The trading system is based on bartering, with your backpack the only storage. This leaves you in the last quarter of the game with a backpack full of items, with no space to trade or craft into other items. This whole game just seemed at odds with itself, leaving me wondering what exactly it wanted to be, and who it was really aimed at.

Graphically, the game has a cutesy vibe going on, which reminded me of the characters in Overcooked, but the models are just a bit oversimplistic. The one thing that did annoy me was that the frame rate could go from normal to stuttering then ultra smooth throughout the game, which was jarring to say the least.

The music is pleasant and fitted in well with the game’s cutesy theme. However, the first time you boot the game up, the music on the title screen is dark and disjointed, which you never hear played again. This left me puzzled as to why it was ever included.

Yonder 002

Yonder the Cloud Catcher Chronicles isn’t a terrible game, but it was never a joy to play. It’s a very run of the mill game that has some good ideas, but none of them unified. As soon as you realise what’s important, and what’s pointless additional content, you just ignore it to get the story done and finish the game. When I had completed the story, it then gave me a choice to continue and max everything else. Sadly, I just switched it off as I had no compulsion to do so. A bit more development time could have been devoted to adding more story to the game, integrating all the extra mechanics, and it would have been a much more rewarding experience. Unfortunately, because none of this had been done, it left me unsatisfied with the game in that it was all over and completed so quickly.

Midlife Gamer Rating: 5/10     Format: Xbox One / PlayStation 4 / Nintendo Switch / Steam    Release Date: Out Now

Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of 5 days. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.

 

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