Playing games can be stressful. Sometimes, you just need a break from the killing and tension that is typically involved with most modern games. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is that much-needed break. It’s relaxing and stress-free. The world is gorgeous and you’re not in danger of any harm at any point so you can explore at your leisure. This means it’s great for kids. Now that it’s on the Nintendo Switch, you can play it whenever or wherever you like.
Yonder has already been out on the PS4 and Steam since July of last year. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s essentially the love child of Harvest Moon and Akimi Village. There’s no violence in this world. You’re tasked with ridding the darkness that envelopes certain parts of the map with these little “sprites” (fairie creatures who just use magic during a quick cutscene to get rid of the darkness), and that’s about as violent as this game gets. It’s a pleasant change from the “killing everything in sight” games you’re typically used to. Even if you jump off a giant cliff, your character pulls out an umbrella and floats to the ground. Because of this, my nine-year-old daughter obviously wanted in on playing it. She and I would take turns, and it was cool to talk to her about where she was at in the game. We were able to share strategies and overcome obstacles. She has more animals and a way better-looking farm than I do. I need all the help I can get.
Your main quest is to fix the Cloud Catcher, a giant magical device that will eliminate the darkness, but there are plenty of other things that will take up your free time. Nobody likes doing the main quest anyways right? After the boat you’re traveling in crashes into this nearby island where you’ll be spending the remainder of your journey, you’ll do a few fetch quests to acquire some of the gear that you’ll be using frequently, like a pickaxe and hammer. You can run around gathering materials that can be used to build your farm and you can find animals to bring back to live there. You don’t have to worry about sleeping or eating so you can keep completing tasks during day or night. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy you can join one of the many guilds that are available. Why not become a Carpenter, Chef, Constructor, Tinker, Brewer or Tailor? Spend the day fishing? You can do them all if you like. The choice is yours.
Along with all that, you get to have access to more than one farm on the map as well. This may seem stressful, but the great thing is you’re not alone. Unlike Harvest Moon, where everything relies on you, and you’re running around your farm like a chicken with your head cut off, you can hire a farmhand (by feeding them of course. I wish this practice also carried over into the real world of hiring). This means you can go adventure and not have to worry about whether or not the cows will be milked in time for the pickup.
I will say that Yonder is more about the journey and not the destination. The “ending” is pretty anti-climatic, but once you’ve finished the main quest, there’s still plenty to do. The game lets you start right from where it ends and you can go around and finish all the quests you didn’t complete. Each region on the island has a happiness meter. Completing things in these regions makes each area better, which affects animal sightings and faster harvest production speed in that area. If you’re a completionist, this game will keep you busy for awhile.
The only negatives I would point out is that there is no fast travel. You can use portals but they only go to certain spots on the map. Considering the map is quite large, this makes getting around a bit of a chore. It would have benefitted from a quick travel feature like Breath of the Wild has. Also, there are quests that make you wait a certain amount of in-game days and these are excruciatingly boring. One quest requires you to wait three in-game days before you can complete it. It takes place at the top of a mountain, so if you want you can go exploring, but don’t venture too far, because like I said, no fast travel system. It’s best to just sit there and wait it out, which isn’t exactly fun.
Overall, Yonder is a great game if you’re looking for something different. It’s a refreshing take on the farm simulator. If you’ve been holding off on getting it, now’s your chance if you own a Switch. Being able to save anywhere is handy, especially if you’re on a road trip or on public transit to work. Yonder is a perfect fit for the portable console. – NVJ
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is now available on PS4, Steam & Nintendo Switch
Nintendo Switch review code provided by Prideful Sloth