Review: 'Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles' (XB1)

Review: 'Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles' (XB1) PRIDEFUL SLOTH

One of the more recent games I reviewed was Salt and Sanctuary, which is basically Dark Souls in 2D. I can safely say, with more assurance than I've ever mustered in a game review, that Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is the exact opposite of Salt and Sanctuary.

The game is a 3D adventure with very limited platforming. You play a child, a Sprite Seer, who was sent away when a dark plague engulfed your land. Returning now years later, your job is to uncover the secret of your origin by dispelling the darkness, poisonous clouds called Murk, and restoring a mystical device called the Cloud Catcher. To this end you'll need to help the people of the land and find sprites that give you the power to dispel Murk.

What really makes this game stand out is just how chill it is. I like to think of it as Breath of the Wild meets Stardew Valley. But even more chill. You see, there's no combat. No enemies. No dying. You run around a gorgeous landscape discovering new, wondrous things while helping people. The means a lot resource collecting, crafting, and fetching items for the townspeople.

Everything happens in this game at a relaxed pace. There's no hurry to complete any one quest, nor is there really a way to fail any of them. This means the game generally follows the same pattern: discover a new town, learn about the guild that works there, join the guild, master the craft, and move on to the next. Between these towns you'll spend your time gathering everything from rocks and grass to fish and gears. The world is absolutely filled with things you'll need and going anywhere will always result in at least a dozen detours to grab “just one thing of wood” or “grab a couple flowers” you might need for a recipe.

The lure of this game is discovery. There's always something to see and something to do. Despite having no danger, this game still managed to grip me tight and hold my attention for hours at a time. Things moved and changed. There's an entire town that celebrates Halloween once a year and you literally get to dress up and trick-or-treat!

The game kind of feels like late 2000s online MMOs, you know, the kind that let you dress up and celebrate community events? Getting outfits, building equipment, taming animals, and farming will be a huge part of your journey. Sure, there's no danger in failing a quest or dying; the challenge in this game comes from discovering new lands and figuring out where to go.

For all those Skyrim billygoats that love jumping up the sides of mountains to shave a few seconds off your journey, fret not. This game rewards you for trying to jump around and explore. You'll find random chests on the sides of mountains and there are several objectives I couldn't find a simple path to that didn't involve some skilled hops.

If you're looking for a game where you can fight monsters and slay foes by the scores, this is not it. If you're looking for a relaxed, super chill game where you simply pick a direction and see what's there, this may be more up your alley. It's gorgeous. It's innocent. It's relaxed. It's filled with moments of awe and magic. And if you're willing to try something different, it might just be the game for you.

Final Score: 8 out of 10

A copy of this game was provided for the purpose of review.

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