It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I heard about Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. My first look at the game was in the form of a gameplay trailer uploaded by the official PlayStation YouTube channel which piqued my interest for the game. The thing that caught my eye first and foremost was the beautiful, vibrant visuals and the look and feel of the world in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, and unfortunately this is the only thing that I consider the most impressive in the final game.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles showed a lot of promise with its gameplay but the dream is all but shattered as we play the game for the first time. The story in the game feels incomplete without any proper setup as the main protagonist, which is picked and customized by the player before the game begins, starts his journey on a ship sailing to a mysterious Island. As I experienced the opening on the ship, I was imagining all the potential that the game had to offer with its gorgeous visuals and the possibilities of the open world exploration, however the abrupt nature of the story and how it is told manages to spoil a good chunk of the game leaving the player without a sense of purpose in the world.
The game begins as your ship mysteriously crashes and just as randomly, you happen to spawn next to a guardian spirit. The start of the game was so random that I was left wondering if the developers were even attempting to frame a narrative here or they just wanted to throw the player in the world. However the meat of the game is of course in the exploration as you discover new locations, meet new people around the world, mostly villagers, and attempt to find the mystery of the Island.
The first thing that is clear immediately is that the game is mainly aimed at the kids because of its difficulty curve. You don’t really have to deal with a lot of the nuisances that is usually associated with an open world game. You don’t have to worry about Stamina, eating Food or even your health. You can drop from large heights and somehow the game will automatically give you an umbrella so that you float to the ground. Basically the game feels like a giant fetch quest where you are performing chores for the various NPCs while slowly uncovering the dangers around the Island. Even the danger is mostly limited to murk, a poisonous cloud that can be cleared with the help of adorable magical sprites that you can discover around the Island.
There is a lot to explore in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles so you can roam around the Island and discover its secrets, get new quests from the NPCs that are scattered around the Island, or attempt to gather materials so you can craft some items. However despite this all, the pattern can get repetitive, the quests are mostly about fetching certain items so they are not as exciting as they sound. However atleast you can gaze at the beauty featured in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles and appreciate some of the fine details like the incredibly cute wild life design on the Island.
The main gameplay loop involves exploration and gathering materials but aside from that, you can perform crafting, fishing and even farming. Crafting can prove to be a rather complicated process. You will be required to join guilds in order to craft certain items and the guild membership itself will require you to perform more fetch quests or other similar chores. The lack of combat means you will be basically running from one place to the next and it can get boring rather quickly. While I admire the visuals and the dynamic day and night cycle that the developers have implemented in the game, the travelling speed and the controls leave a lot to be desired. The main character moves in a rather clunky manner so it feels like the character is walking on thin ice. The animation is pretty basic compared to something like RIME, which is another indie game.
Farming is where the game lets you utilize your skills and experience that you gather around the Island. You will be given a piece of land which you can farm and even pet animals there. The basic farming is rather simple to learn and then it is all about waiting to harvest the crops. The lack of proper progression here really hurts the overall experience here. In a game like Harvest Moon, you have a clear end goal and also a memorable cast of characters that you interact with throughout your journey, which is something that is greatly missed here.
I was playing the game on a PS4 Pro and while the developers haven’t confirmed any support for the PS4 Pro, I did notice that the frame rate was unlocked. This is a two edged sword because while it means the game runs faster and feels more fluid to control, it can also result in a random judder here and there which can spoil the experience if it becomes too frequent. Thankfully it wasn’t the case here and visually, the game is pretty to look at with its colorful world and foliage spread across the land.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles Review (PS4)
Game Reviewed on: PS4
Game description: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an adventure video game developed and published by Prideful Sloth for PlayStation 4 and Windows. It was released on July 18, 2017.
There is a lot to explore in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles and the game is aesthetically pleasing to look at, but despite this, it suffers from a lack of sense of progression and repetitive gameplay which ultimately hurts the overall appeal of the game.