Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles is an open-world adventure that that feels like Harvest Mon crossed with the Zelda series of games. Only it never really matches the level of either of those two games and simply feels like you’re on this not so epic quest to pick up lots of bits and bobs to give to people, who in turn reward you with more bits and bobs. It’s been a very long time since I have struggled to keep awake while playing a video game, but Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles managed it, to the point where I didn’t need to rely on my over dependence of sleeping pills.
And that’s all very strange as Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a charming experience from beginning to end. The world is colorful and there are a lot of areas to explore. Unfortunately the game just never really seems to go anywhere. Strike that; the game never ever really begins. You just wind up on this gorgeous little island full of random people only to essential serve as a glorified postman of random crap.
I’m one of those people who really hates “needless” crafting in games, and Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles really grinds my gears because that’s essentially all the game is, only with a crafting system that never really amounts to much. You simply run around the world collecting wood, mining minerals, breaking stones and fishing. It’s like the team decided to make an entire game on those neat side-quests you find in MMOs.
This is really apparent as there isn’t much to do outside of playing babysitter to the entire population of the game’s world. Find some stones to build a bridge, collect some fish to feed some guy, or craft a blanket to keep someone dry in the rain. It’s all just so monotonous that it will drive you up the wall. And worse, there just never feels like you get any reward on this epic fetch quest to the point where I simply felt like a glorified delivery boy.
But one thing that really is lacking is the ability to do much with the stuff you crafted. Sure, you can build some stuff here and there, but nothing really of value that makes the player advance or evolve in any meaningful way. In most games you can at least sell what you collect and craft to earn money to buy new weapons or items, but Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles simply lets you barter for other items or junk that you probably already have. And since you can’t enter buildings, there aren’t any shops, just people standing around outside which makes the world just feel empty.
This is all made worse since the Zelda connection is made a lot when people mention this game, but other than the style Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles uses, it just simply isn’t a suitable fit. You don’t go on any sort of meaningful adventure, you don’t fight cool monsters, you don’t explore dungeons, you don’t do anything other that simple fetch quests for islanders that are too lazy to do anything. And when you do complete a major quest you might be lucky enough to open a new area where you can do it all over again.
And then we get to the Harvest Moon-ish sections which really only involve you building very small farms across the game in designated areas. You can use the random bits and bobs to craft some pens and pepper your home with farm items, but again, there isn’t much reward in the end for doing this. You can tame some animals and walk them to a pen so they can pump out milk for you so that you can… err, do something with it I guess? Or just bribe people with food to run your farm for you and do even less.
And that’s really the biggest core issue with Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles. There simply isn’t any real reason to play the game if you are looking for something to do. You go collect bits and bobs, or you hang out at your farm. These two elements just sort of feel at odds with each other here.
I even completely forgot what the main story quest was after playing for a while. You never truly feel validated for all the running around or rewarded for building a bunch of farms. It all just feels like an endless cycle of collecting A to get B, which then becomes A to get B and then repeat it all again in a new area. And I’m not saying this is a bad thing in general, but other games manage to fill the space in-between A and B with something more substantial.
Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a lovely looking game that is incredibly charming, but simply doesn’t offer a lot for the player in terms of depth. Couple this with some really floaty platform controls and some really amazing music that seems to cut out or dip and random while playing, and you’re left with a pretty looking game without a lot of meat on the bone. And at $25 there simply isn’t all that much of a game here to warrant a purchase outside a sale day.
“A gorgeous little game that hides the fact it’s just a boring and expensive side-quest simulator”
A copy was provided for review.