Very few games can pull off the Pacifism card and still has enough charm to be entertaining. Games like Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley are the first to come to mind when you think about this, and while I could never get into these games, there was something about Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles which pulled me in immediately from the beginning and surprisingly never let go.
Yonder starts off with your own created character on a boat to return home after being sent away due to an approaching darkness that has taken over the island. As your ship comes close, lightning strikes and you become shipwrecked. After having a dream about the spirit of the island, you’re thrown into the task of helping the people of the island and rid it of the Murk that covers it.
Yonder is a straight-forward game of exploration, crafting and building. While tasked with clearing the murk around the island, players will have to take on small quests to make the people of the island happy again in order to take on the tower that is seems to be causing the murk.
Starting off slow, players will build their created character in a simple but quite creative builder and then is thrusted into the world with only an idea of what their quest is and how to accomplish it. Talking to townsfolk and taking on their quests help teaches you more about what you can do in the game including crafting, taking care of animals, farming, fishing and more.
It doesn’t take long to get into the hang of Yonder’s controls as it is possibly the most straight forward game I’ve ever played. Crafting items become unlocked as you pick up specific kits and skills from quest from guilds that specialize in skills like Carpentry or cooking. Building and maintaining farms features a very simple create and drop system which allows you to build directly on your property in the way that will best suit your needs and you can hire townsfolk to be farmhands to watch your farm while you’re gone.
What was amazing to me is that nothing in the game really felt like a chore to do. Even a simple fetch quest where I was forced to walk across the map in order to collect a certain amount of items to craft something else didn’t bother me as much as it would in most games, and I believe the game’s beautifully crafted environments were to thank for this. Soon, I completely forgot about the Murk unless it was directly in my way, then I searched for more Sprites to take it away and continued what I was doing.
Aesthetically, Yonder is one of the more impressive indie titles I’ve gotten to experience, taking inspiration from Legend of Zelda: Windwaker, the game almost has a cartoon-like vibe going for it. Between the 8 beautifully distinct biomes which brings you from tropical beaches, dry desserts and snowy mountains, to changing seasons and a dynamic weather system, the game is just gorgeous to behold.
The biggest problem I have had with Yonder is the lack of challenge. The lack of an opposing force that could really cause problems for players, even something like a timer for specific tasks or quests, would give a sense of accomplishment that the game seems to lack.
Overall, Yonder: The Cloud Chaser Chronicles is an enjoyable, relaxing game that anyone can pick up and play, perfect to jump into after a hard days work.