YONDER: THE CLOUD CATCHER CHRONICLES Switch Review: A Uniquely Laid-Back Adventure Game

Exploration games have been around for a long time already. Several developers made their own unique version with challenging enemies, exciting quests, and in-depth exploration. Usually, adventure games will try to balance adventure and combat, while at the same time, keeping players on edge by imposing goals and quests to move the overall narrative, which is the exact opposite of Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles.

Yonder is an adventure game initially released for the PC and PlayStation 4 last year and just released to the Nintendo Switch a few days ago. Unlike traditional adventure games, Yonder does not contain a combat system or a strict progression system. Instead, players are catapulted into a genuinely open-world game where you can do anything you want whenever you want it. Upon playing the game, it is apparent that Yonder is influenced by several other titles. The game’s vast open-world environment is similar to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, it’s farming mechanic is hands-down Harvest Moon, and its laid-back chill experience is inspired by Stardew Valley. 

Story

The game begins with the player’s customized character on a ship that crashed on the lost island of Gemea. Soon after, the player discovers that the island is plagued by a mysterious dark purple fog known as the Murk, which is causing distress to the island’s residents and is effectively polluting the environment. Now, it becomes the player’s mission to gather sprites that are the only ones capable of dispelling the Murk. 

Gameplay

Since there are no enemies in the game, besides the Murk, which is pretty much harmless in itself and only serves to restrict a few areas to the player, exploration and fulfilling a bunch of quests will take most of the player’s time. The world is divided into eight separate, and players will need to clear out Murks, establish farms, and help out villagers and increase the area’s overall happiness level. 

Although most if not all the quest available in this game will require players to fetch, gather, or deliver specific items, which can quickly become tedious as the game progresses. However, the vast area of the game with cute animals and new places to explore. On the other hand, Yonder’s adventure and farming elements are entirely independent of one another that players can ditch farming and only complete quests to move the story along or they can also focus on tending to one’s farm and plant crops and take care of animals. Everything you do in the game is entirely up to you. 

Beyond the farming, exploration, and crafting, Yonder’s relaxing and straightforward pace gives players the autonomy to do whatever they want, and for me exploring the world a doing some light farming is all I need to cool down after a long day. Unfortunately, the fast travel system in the game is pretty much limited. Players are given the ability to warp by crafting a warp item which will teleport you to the different farms that you have unlocked. I mean, okay the world is not super huge, but the character’s slow running speed got frustrating at times and distracted me from being fully immersed in the game. Lastly, the game does not contain any currency. Instead, players will have to barter items to traders. Take note that you don’t merely exchange items to traders. You must ensure that your wares are of equal value to the ones you’re trading, which is determined by a number displayed below each item. 

Verdict

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a unique game. Most developers of adventure titles would focus almost half of their resources designing the perfect combat system. If you’re the kind of player who looks forward to some action-filled combat or battle system, then this game is definitely not for you. On the other hand, the game is intended for that Harvest Moon/Stardew Valley demographic, where a laid-back, relaxing experience is prioritized than hacking and slashing enemies. Besides the lack of a decent fast-travel option and a better trade system, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a good game if you’re looking just looking for that mellow vibe to keep you sane after a long day in the real world.