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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles Review

Five minutes into Prideful Sloth’s Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, a blatant parallel can be drawn to Breath Of The Wild. Your character, shipwrecked and premise-less, leaves a cave with only a faint sense of location onto a rocky platform that overlooks an expansive scene of lush greenery and sprawling mountains. If the video game trope of ‘exploration in 2017’ could be distilled into one image - this would be it.

Like Zelda, Yonder drops you into a world with nothing but your curiosity to explore. You can head in any direction you want though though you do have your Celestial Compass that gives you a quest-focused heading if you feel especially aimless.

Yonder succeeds where many open-world games fail: it doesn’t make any of its content feel imperative, in short, you can tackle any of the games’ dozens of side-quests at whatever pace suits you without UI prompts attempting to steer you onto the critical path. It does help that Yonder’s overarching quest is super vague and totally non-pressing.

The world of Gemea is small enough to cross in 10 minutes with but enough variety in its secrets, biomes and characters that the depth beckons you overturn every rounded stone in its gorgeous, textured terrain. The general story goes as such: there’s an evil purple mist called the murk that has infected Gemea. You collect Sprites to clear the murk in order to collect other collectibles like cats, new seeds and resources.

The missions given by perpetually cheery NPCs are pretty much all fetch quests. Outfit a scarecrow in the latest fashion, herd three Groffles for a little girl, deliver fish to a fisherman etc. It can become tiresome retreading the same pathways, especially considering the dizzyingly quick day-night cycle but the real character of Yonder lies in its environments.

The nine species of hybrid animal are adorable and the variety of flora and fauna gives Gemea an indistinguishable sense of place. Gemea is a manageable and wonderful place to simply be in.

But Yonder’s depth actually lies in its crafting system. Every biome has a farm you can build from scratch, kit out with supplies and rear animals for produce. In order to make your farm the best it can be, you need to craft structures for your animals, food for your farmhands and machines for productivity. There are numerous schools of crafting which take hours to master but are introduced to the player as quick as they’re ready for them.

As a whole Yonder is perfect for young children. It never assumes you have experience with life-sim mechanics and teaches you them in simple terms. Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley, though brilliant for the children seven-plus, are packed with systems that fly over little’uns’ heads. Yonder is a perfect starting place for any young child looking to explore games for the first time. 

It packs a positivity and innocence that is unmistakably attractive for all ages and, bar some imprecise movement and wobbly terrain that makes vertical platforming a headache, Yonder is a world that trusts you to navigate at your own pace with nothing but whim and curiosity.

Will Butler | @QuesaWilla

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is out now on Playstation 4. Learn more about the game over at their website and be sure to follow Prideful Sloth on Twitter.

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