I’m Going On An Adventure….
If you don’t like to explore then you’re not going to enjoy Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles. I have spent my time with Yonder falling off cliffs, cutting grass, befriending Groffles and seeking Sprites. I should also point out that I am utterly hopeless at adventure games. Between getting lost and getting sidetracked I’m a terrible person to put in charge of charting new worlds. Thankfully Yonder and the island of Gemea are more than forgiving of my shortcomings as an explorer.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles comes from Prideful Sloth, an Australian games developer. You take on the role of a customisable character, shipwrecked on the island of Gemea and entrusted with the duty of clearing the island of ‘Murk’. Yonder and Gemea are yours to make what you fill of them. You’ll traverse the island on foot (or in my case by umbrella after falling from a great height) and what you decide to do with your time here is no one’s business but your own. Yonder is a relaxing, visually appealing and quirky little game that reels you in by offering simple and fun experiences.
Yonder will feel somewhat familiar in the hands of those who enjoy games like Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. Resource management, crafting, appeasing local NPCs and exploring your surroundings are hardly unique to Yonder, just like at myriad of titles and spin-offs from two of the previously mentioned titles. Yet there is something fundamentally different about Yonder. The visuals are certainly endearing, Gemea is a beautiful place to explore.
The island is pretty big and features some pretty varied territories, frozen mountainscapes, lush green meadows, rusty desserts and sprawling forests. All of which are packed with unique flora, adorably fluffy fauna and healthy supplies of resources like clay, rocky, fodder and more. Every corner of the island is flowing with colour even the ‘Murk’ purple hazy clouds that shroud secrets and treasure chests are colourful blotches on the landscape.
Locals are quirky little character, like a cross between hobbits, gnomes with pinched faces and trendy little outfits. They’ll offer you guidance on the island and train you in various crafts. Other islanders have need of your exploration and foraging skills. You’ll restore an abandoned farm and help house some animals. All of this sounds like it could fall into any the titles I mentioned above though right?
Yonder does one thing differently though, it keeps things simple.
As a result you can make the game about whatever you want it to be. You can be a farmer, a master baker, the hero who clears away all the murk. It doesn’t matter. The end goal is your own and there is no resistance in your path to it. You don’t have to clear out ‘Murk’ to fully explore Gemea. You don’t have to help a certain amount of islanders to unlock a new skill or tool. Everything is offered to you freely, even the tools you’ll use to harvest resources.
Games like Yonder tend not to hold my attention for very long. Give me too many options and sidequests and I’ll get sidetracked. If that happens I will give up, all you have to do is look at the amount of abandoned farms, houses and even Sims families I’ve left in my wake. Yonder mixes simple gameplay with an almost innocent charm. It’s gaming but not as I know it.
There is no big bad to fight, there is no great evil to vanquish. In fact with the exception of some rocks, there’s nothing for you to hit. Yonder is here for you to enjoy it. Making friends with local creatures and go on a journey with them or spend some time fishing in a lazy river (FFXV, take note of Yonder’s super simple and FUN fishing mechanic!). Want to explore every nook and cranny? Well you’ll need some vines and planks to make a rope bridge. Resources on Gemea are for the most part infinite. However you’ll need to manage your trees for lumber, replacing the ones you chop down with seeds you harvest.
Gemea is your island. You create your own character, your own version of you to explore it. How you spend your time there, is entirely up to you decide. I have been there almost a week now and I’m 50% through my journey. I’m not famous for my farm or my sculpting, I’ve only begun to get to know my island. I’m in no rush to see it end just yet!
Editor-in-Chief, part-time super villain and hoarder of cats. If you can’t find me writing, I’m probably in the kitchen!