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Sumatra: Fate of Yandi review for PS5/PS4, Xbox Series X/One, Switch


Platform: PS5
Also on: Switch, PC, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PS4
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Cloak and Dagger Games
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No
ESRB: T

There’s something weird about Sumatra: Fate of Yandi and it’s entirely because of how incredibly not-weird it is as a whole.

See, it’s an adventure game, and, at least in my experience (ignoring exceptions like the Broken Sword series), those tend to be built around oddness. You can probably blame/credit the likes Tim Schaeffer and Ron Gilbert and LucasArts as a whole for that, since the games they created twenty to thirty years ago — be it the Monkey Island series, Grim Fandango, or Maniac Mansion, among others — all had quirkiness at the core of their respective premises. Since they were hits, others followed suit, and now pretty much the whole genre strives for that jokey tone that was perfected in the ‘90s.

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi is an exception to that. It’s resolutely serious, with very little in the way of humour and nothing in the way of quirk. As the title implies, it’s set in Indonesia, where you follow the titular Yandi as he makes his way home after a logging accident. Along the way, he sees the environmental damage his job for a logging company has caused, and he makes friends with the local Indigenous communities.

This straightforwardness extends to the gameplay, too. While you have to solve plenty of environmental puzzles, they’re not of the “shave a cat and find some chewing gum and use the cat fur as a fake moustache” variety. Rather, they’re life and death things like “find duct tape to wrap around a holey bottle to block the holes so you can get water from the stream” or “start a fire to smoke some bees out from their hive.” While you’re sometimes have to search for the individual items that will help you, you never really need to think in the abstract or try to figure out what, exactly, the developers were thinking.

That’s not exactly a complaint, mind you. Given how some adventure games seem to strive to be as obscure or as complicated as possible, it’s kind off neat to play something like Sumatra: Fate of Yandi that’s exactly what it seems. On top of that, the game also deserves credit for its setting — there aren’t exactly a tonne of games set in rural Indonesia, after all.

But at the same time, perhaps because the genre has become so intertwined with a very specific style, it’s hard not to wish there was a little more than meets the eyei. It’s a solid adventure game, to be sure, but given how many other adventure games are out there on every single platform, you need to be more than solid to stand out — and Sumatra: Fate of Yandi is missing that extra oomph that would put it over the edge.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Sumatra: Fate of Yandi PS4/PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: B-