Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles review for PS4, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC
Publisher: Prideful Sloth
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1
Online: No

3 things I’ve never been a fan of in gaming:
1) Excessive quests;
2) Crafting; and
3) Anything that strongly invokes The Legend of Zelda (since, as I’ve said before, I’ve ever been able to get into that franchise).

3 things that Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles does or has a lot of:
1) Quests;
2) Crafting; and
3) Invoke The Legend of Zelda.

In fact, you could probably make the case that that’s all it does, since there are no enemies — and, consequently, no combat. The entire game consists of you going around a massive island, doing chores for people.

In the wrong hands, that could make for an abysmal experience. I still fight the urge to yawn every time I think of Planet 51 for PS3, a game so incredibly boring it literally made me fall asleep. Given that much of Yonder’s gameplay consists of “Gather X number of resources, bring to to Person Y”, I wouldn’t have been surprised if it suffered — or, at least, made me suffer — the same fate.

But here’s the thing: I love it. I’m addicted to it. There’s just something delightfully soothing about exploring a massive, beautiful, peaceful island on foot, doing nothing more than fulfilling requests for the various people you come across.

I mean, there is a story somewhere inside Yonder — something to do with the eponymous cloud catcher, and the main character’s search for his/her family. And you do need to hunt down sprites to help you clear the island of shadows; not doing that will hinder your ability to advance too far in the game. But, in all honesty, finishing up the story often seems more like a happy by-product of finishing quests, rather than something you need to be doing.

As for the quests themselves, they’re nothing too special. Like I said, it’s mostly gathering certain numbers of resources to help people build things. You also need to build up your farm — a task that, rather delightfully, involves feeding some of the most adorable animals imaginable and luring them back to your plot of land.

Even more of Yonder’s joy comes from the simple act of uncovering new quests. The island on which the game takes place is huge, includes a number of different ecosystems, and features dynamic weather and a fast-moving clock. There’s something almost magical about starting the day on a sunny beach, making your way through lush meadows during a rainstorm, and ending up in the midst of snow-peaked mountains. Admittedly, there are points where you kind of wish there were some faster way of getting around that just walking, but taken as a whole, it’s not all that bad.

Obviously, there are some people that probably won’t enjoy Yonder too much. If you want action and adventure, of course, it’ll probably bore you, and if you want a fast-paced story, you’re not going to find that here. But if you’re just looking for a delightful game that allows you to explore to your heart’s contest, Yonder is exactly what you’re looking for.

Grade: A