Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, developer Prideful Sloth’s first foray into the gaming industry, is an aesthetic masterpiece. This RPG allows players to explore the lush and geographically varied open world of Gemea, and its pacifistic bent makes it feel fresh considering its placement in an industry and genre over-saturated with violence and gore. However, despite these brilliant aspects, Yonder’s simplistic plot devolves into fetch quest after mind-numbing fetch quest. Its repetitive nature eventually led me, as the player, to relish not the journey but rather the fact that it works its way to a conclusion rather quickly.
Players begin Yonder in the shoes of their own uniquely customized character. The character, who goes unnamed, is on a ship that gets struck by lightning and eventually wakes up in a cave in Gemea. Players then find and are first introduced to Lumie, a sprite who accompanies their protagonist throughout the game.
Once out of the cave, players get their first true glance of Gemea. Gemea is actualized extremely well: throughout my adventures in environments such as mountain ranges, deserts, iced-over lands, forests, and more, I was constantly astounded by how good Gemea looked. The gorgeously rendered open world is by far the best aspect of the game, and Prideful Sloth deserves acclaim for creating it.
At this point, players can roam the entirety of Gemea freely. They can partake of many different options: progressing in the storyline, building farms, going fishing, searching for collectibles, engaging in side quests, joining guilds, gathering resources, wandering around Gemea, and more. They cannot, however, engage in any violent act. Gemea is a peaceful country whose inhabitants help each other whenever possible; they do not wield weapons, and even eschew using money in favor of utilizing a friendly barter system. The game’s protagonist adheres to the societal norms of Gemea, providing a refreshing twist.
While at first it seems like the game has much to offer, the in-game activities it does provide become quite tedious after only a short period of time. Side quests all revolve around fetching certain items for side characters who do not stand out in any way. For the most part, they felt like they were not fleshed out; for example, the entirety of one side quest is giving a man five fish after he asks the protagonist for them. While there are a few good side quests interspersed throughout the game – most notably one where players help a lady grow a beard – I found that it was not worth the effort of drudging through all of the side quests to find the worthy ones. especially considering there is no good fast travel system.
Yonder’s main story did almost as bad a job as its side quests in getting me invested in its outcome. The gist of the story is that Gemea is becoming overrun with an evil purple murk that is in the process of completely enshrouding the land. The protagonist runs around (and often backtracks through, as the game lacks a good fast travel system) Gemea to help construct a device that will counteract the murk, and in the process learns about their past.
Whereas the ideas behind the story are decent if unremarkable, Prideful Sloth’s execution of them leaves room for improvement. As there are only a handful of characters that matter to the story, the protagonist takes center stage. I felt this was a bad move, as this silent character lacks personality and only engages in brief, topical conversation with others. There is also no sense of urgency to the protagonist’s actions, and he or she fails to grow from the experience of attempting to save Gemea from impending doom.
Prideful Sloth implements so many good ideas into Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, but their game ultimately failed to draw me in. Yonder is a game rife with potential, but its shortcomings prove detrimental to the potential enjoyment that can be gleaned from it and knock its rating down to a 6.5.
Here is the Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles Launch Trailer:
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is available on PlayStation 4 and PC (Steam).