What a yonderful world!
Inside a dark cave, you see a ray of light in the distance. Once you walk into this new world, the camera zooms out, showing not only the wild lands in the horizon, but also the promise of a big adventure. Most Switch players may be familiar with a similar sequence from certain groundbreaking title – ahem, Breath of the Wild –, but when that happens at the beginning of Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, it puts the game on a very high note. For the most part, the game manages to keep up with these initial impressions, and does something unique when it adds farming elements to an open-world formula.
When the boy or girl you choose to be arrives at this new world, you discover that bad things happened in the past, and a mysterious substance known as Murk has spread through the island. As the only one able to see and talk to the Sprites, you must seek their help to restore the world to what it used to be. In order to do that, you must explore the island of Gemea and its distinct environments, helping the people you find along the way. By completing quests, eliminating Murk, planting trees and even improving your farms, you’ll progressively restore the happiness of each region of Gemea.
At your first stop, you’ll receive the tools needed for these tasks: an axe, a pick-axe, a hammer, and a sickle. During the entire game, these tools allow you to collect wood, stones, metals, and other resources, which can be used as material for many crafting recipes. You may have noticed, but there’s really no sword in the Yonder’s protagonist tool set. Being a much more relaxing type of experience, the game doesn’t feature any type of combat whatsoever. Surprisingly, it manages to deliver an equally entertaining adventure nevertheless, and its world is full of awe-inspiring moments and surprises.
Yonder achieves such greatness thanks to a superb presentation that makes it stand out among other titles. The island of Gemea is composed of many different environments, and each one of them is beautifully portrayed with a charming cartoonish art-style. From expansive green fields, to the snowy mountains, the entire game is also accompanied by an enjoyable orchestrated soundtrack, which dictates the mood for each region and activity performed.
This expansive island is a constant invite for exploration, but this comes with a drawback as it hurts Yonder’s farming elements. At most regions, you’re allowed to set up a farm after you complete certain quests. There, you can build shelter for animals and fields for plantings, which will reward you with different resources with time. There’s not much incentive for you to invest on your farm, though, as it is becomes just a number for the overall happiness of the region. You can even recruit the help of someone of the island, so they keep the farm clean. This way, there’s isn’t even reasons for you to return to the farm frequently.
Even though the farming and open-world elements of Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles feel more like two different games put together, I enjoyed my adventure through the beautiful island of Gemea. There are many surprises to be found there, and it is a well-worth title for those who wants a relaxing experience.