Every now and then a game comes along and completely takes you by surprise; that’s exactly what happened when I started playing through the stunning Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. This charming open-world adventure game takes players through the adorable world of Gamea, a world I would recommend to just about anyone to explore.
Yonder is sold as an open-world farming game, which doesn’t really do the game justice. Yes, there are farming elements, and yes, the game does feature a fully explorable open-world, but Yonder also has so many other strengths to its gameplay.
You play as a nameless character, who has awoken on the island of Gamea with no memory of how you got there. Although Gamea is a luscious island, it’s also an island that has been plagued by an evil entity only known as murk. Soon into your adventure, you discover these cute creature known as sprites, and it is these sprites that will help you restore peace to Gamea.
The main story arch of Yonder is pretty generic, gather all the resources needed to save the land. Although the story is a little cliche, it never runs stale or feels boring, which is due to the plethora of activities and quest to complete while on your adventure to restore Gamea to its former glory. These quests fall into two categories; your general side quest which often involves you helping various islanders your meet on your journey; and the guild quests, which will allow you to build, brew, stitch and bake various items to help you progress as a farmer, carpenter, chef, stone mason, and tailor.
The different guilds in Yonder really bring a sense of personalisation to the game; I’ve put in around 30 hours and barely touched the chef or brewing guilds. Instead, I chose to focus my time on building my farms, allowing me to adopt different types of animals and produce unique products, which can be used to trade or as payment to get a helping hand for your farm. Although the farming in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles offers some depth, it’s nothing when compared to something like Stardew Valley. Yonder doesn’t feature the ability to plant crops and although there are seasons in the game, they offer little difference when it comes to farming.
Developers Prideful Sloth took a really bold approach when creating an open-world adventure game that features absolutely no combat, not even a weapon is present throughout the entire game, and Yonder is better for it. The lands of Gamea are truly stunning, on various occasions I would climb a hill to see a glorious sun set illuminating the gorgeous vistas, often stopping for a moment just to take it al in. The pleasure of exploring these jaw-dropping landscape without the stress of combat is one I didn’t realise I would love until I experienced it.
The overall map size of Gamea appears small compared to triple AAA open-world games, but with every area of the map boasting its own unique environment, it never feels too small. This is definitely a good thing as the fast-travel system in Yonder is potentially the weakest element to the game. As you play through the world you’ll find the location of different stone shrines. Once you find a shrine and complete the pretty simple quest it offers, you are able to use it to fast-travel to another shrine. However, you’ll first need to unlock all the shrines, then guess which one you want to travel to through the aesthetics of the shrine as there is no map feature or naming of the shrines, which feels like a very odd decision.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a truly stunning adventure game. Although the story of the game feels slightly overused it’s still a story I’m glad I experienced; but it’s not the story of Yonder that will keep pulling you back, you’ll have the charming quests and variety of guild activities to thank for that. The passive approach to exploring the gorgeous world of Gamea is one I applaud Prideful Sloth for taking, and one I’d encourage everyone to experience.