18th May2018

‘Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Britt Roberts


Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a single-player game bereft of enemies or indeed any sort of combat. The gameplay is essentially a series of fetch and crafting quests, (which is admittedly something that can be levelled at quite a lot of other titles that DO have combat as part of their make-up) but what sets Yonder apart is the tone of hope and positivity that runs throughout. There is no levelling up to speak of, no skill tree and mostly the reward for side quests is a personal sense of satisfaction with no in-game consequences (the game isn’t shy about handing out different shampoos and hairstyles to alter the aesthetic of your character, although you don’t gain any particular extra ‘powers’)and yet Yonder completely charmed me with its mellow, calming approach.

The game begins with your character (who is customisable) getting involved in a ship wreck. As the boat capsizes you have a vision of a giant totem advising you that you are at the start of a long journey, shortly after this you wake up in a cavern to begin your quest, picking up flowers and sticks on your way, of course.

As mentioned above, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is completely focused on exploration, there are no enemies to thwart with the exception of the clouds of ‘murk’ which are spreading outwards from an area in the centre of the island, the removal of which is your only main goal. That’s not to say that Yonder is linear, however, there are myriad side quests to embark upon, most of which involve fetching a specific item or crafting various things for someone in order to proceed. You begin by requiring the usual wood, stone and seeds, etc. (the game implies that you should replace each tree cut down in your mission, rewarding you for doing so, very conscientious) but soon you realise that you will need much more complex building materials and indeed skills and items in order to fulfil your mission and so it becomes paramount that you move beyond the murk in order to learn the techniques of various guilds such as cooking, carpentry, farming, metalwork and many more, all of which are spread out across the quite vast island. There is no death to be found, either. You can leap off a tall cliff and your character will gently float to the ground with the aid of a handy umbrella. Should you try to drown yourself, you’ll wake up unhurt on the shore.

In order to remove the pesky clouds of murk, you’ll need the help of sprites who can be found hidden away, each sprite found means that another area can be cleansed and moved through. Yonder isn’t a game bothered with inventory micro-managing or puzzles, pretty much everything in the game can be solved in two ways. You can scavenge and craft the necessary requirements or you can trade off things you’ve picked up in your travels to gain the relevant items in the villages and towns dotted around the landscape. There is no economy in the game or money to speak of beyond the value of items which are traded flatly with no ‘coin’ to be earned.

Graphically, the game is no slouch. There is the usual soft pop-up of vegetation that is the norm in most RPG games but I didn’t feel that the Switch was struggling as I made my way around the island. And whilst the game isn’t a 60 fps juggernaut, the framerate is very stable and I didn’t notice any stutter beyond the occasional moment during an auto save. Accompanying the pleasant visuals is the joyous soundtrack flowing in an out of the game, keeping the warm tone from slipping. I must admit that I was aware that the game had clear limitations, the endless fetch quests are definitely not for everyone and the joy from the game comes from travelling around, helping everyone and clearing the pollution that bogs the land. Yonder feels a very ‘hippy’ game, everyone you meet is keen to share their knowledge and assist you as you build farms, raise animals, fix bridges and cleanse the landscape. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed pottering around at my own pace, playing the fishing mini-games and wandering from biome to biome casually moving the story along, however, these are simple pleasures and if a player doesn’t click with them, there isn’t much depth below that pretty, initial surface.

The fact that this is Prideful Sloth’s first game is astonishing, aside from the fact that the game runs so well and is pretty much glitch-free, it feels like they have already found a specific personality and tone that reminds me of the recent game ‘Solo’, which I also enjoyed. Those people out there who aren’t drawn to the grimness or grind that can sometimes make up the large portion of open-world games or even those, like myself who fancy a break from them can easily get lost in the charms that Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles has to offer. Think of it as Zelda without Ganon, a 3D Terraria without enemies or even The Witcher without….well….anyone at all.

Right, I’m off to wrap some vines around a stone to see if I can teleport to Aberystwyth.


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