๐ŸŒณ Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles Xbox Review 8.5/10 "A Massage For My Mind" ๐ŸŒณ @YonderChronicle #GameDev #IndieGames

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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a single-player game bereft of enemies or indeed any sort of combat, the gameplay is essentially a series of fetch/crafting quests as you quietly explore the island of Gemea. What sets Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles apart from similar titles is the tone of hope, positivity and relentless charm that runs throughout.

The game begins with your character getting involved in a shipwreck. As the boat capsizes, you have a vision of a giant totem advising you that you are at the start of a long journey. Shortly after this, you wake up in a cavern and begin your quest, picking up rocks, flowers and sticks on your way, of course – you never know when you might need them to build a bridge!

As mentioned above, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is completely focused on exploration, there are no enemies to thwart – with the exception of the clouds of ‘murk’ which are spreading outwards from an area in the centre of the island, the removal of which is your main goal. That’s not to say that Yonder is linear, however – there are myriad side quests to embark upon, most of which involve fetching a specific item or crafting various things for someone/something in order to proceed.

You begin by requiring the usual wood, stone and seeds, etc. (the game implies that you should replace each tree cut down in your mission, rewarding you for doing so) but soon you realise that you will need much more complex building materials and indeed skill sets in order to fulfil your mission, and so it becomes paramount that you move through Gemea in order to learn the techniques of the various guilds that dot the island such as cooking, carpentry, farming, metalwork and many more, all of which allow you to craft and create funky items that add colour and variety to your world.

There is no death to be found, either, you can leap off a tall cliff - and your character will gently float to the ground with the aid of a handy umbrella. Should you try to drown yourself, you’ll wake up unhurt on the shore.

In order to remove the pesky clouds of murk, you’ll need the help of personality-filled sprites that can be found hidden away, each located sprite means that another area can be cleansed and moved through. Yonder isn’t a game bothered with inventory micro-management or puzzles, pretty much everything in the game can be solved in two ways. You can scavenge and craft the necessary requirements or you can trade off things you’ve picked up in your travels to gain the relevant items in the villages and towns dotted around the landscape. 

Graphically, the game is no slouch, I previously covered the Switch version back in 2018 and this version on the XSX runs at a pretty smooth 60fps, with minimal loading times. Accompanying the pleasant visuals is the joyous soundtrack, which flows in an out of the game, keeping the warm tone from slipping.

I must admit that I was aware that the game had clear limitations, the endless fetch quests are definitely not for everyone and the joy from the game comes from travelling around, helping everyone and clearing the pollution that bogs the land. Yonder feels like a very ‘hippy’ game, everyone you meet is keen to share their knowledge and assist you as you build farms, raise animals, fix bridges and cleanse the landscape.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed pottering around at my own pace, playing the fishing mini-game and wandering from biome to biome casually moving the story along. However, these are simple pleasures; if a player doesn’t click with them and gets lost in the calmness of it all, this won’t be the game for them.

The fact that this is Prideful Sloth’s first game is astonishing, aside from the fact that the game runs so well and is pretty much glitch-free, it feels like they have already found a specific personality and tone that reminds me of the game ‘Solo’, which I also enjoyed.

The players out there that aren’t drawn to the grimness that can sometimes make up the large portion of open-world games - or even those like myself who fancy a break from them can easily get lost in the charms that Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles has to offer. When I first covered Yonder back in 2018 for its Switch release, it was a game that I often returned to, to zone out and relax my mind.

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