Few years ago, open world games were a rarity. Only a handful of selected developers such as Rock Star Games, would ever embark on creating a title as large, and robust as the games from the Grand Theft Auto Series. However, with the inception of the current console generation, the development scene has change, and suddenly, every single developer and his mate have started releasing open world titles. And earlier this week, Prideful Sloth has released a title called Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles, which most refer to simply as Yonder.
Yonder, is an open world title centred around exploration and farming. Within the entirety of the game, one will not find a single second of combat, as developer has seemingly decided that replacing it with an animal ‘befriending’, would be much more beneficial. And in the grand scheme of things, when taking into the consideration the nature of the title, lack of any combat is big plus, on the title’s scoresheet.
Beside farming and exploration, Yonder will serve one with a multitude of quests which will require one to carry out a ”wide variety” of tasks. Some villagers will ask you to gather resources for them, whereas others will ask you to gather some resources and craft an item. As you can see, the variety of Yonder’s quests is limited to fetch-like missions. And yes – there are some quests which involve additional steps such as placing an animal trap, in order to retrieve a single animal pelt, but in the end, it’s still a fetch-quest, but one which simply makes you needlessly wait.
Yonder’s quest design is limited, and to some extent boring, however, nothing is as bad as the fact that certain missions will require you to wait as much as three in-game days, in order to simply finalise the mission. And you could argue that giving player some spare time to stray off the path, and complete a handful of side quests, before continuing with the main mission is a great idea. But when you are on top of a mountain, and you have to travel all the way across the entire map and back, just to complete some meaningless fetch-quest, it is simply not worth the bother.
Yonder’s gameplay may be tedious, and at times feel like it has been designed against the player and not for him/her, ultimately leaving one with bad first impressions. But fortunately, Yonder manages to salvage a vast portion of the negative first impression with rather impressive audio-visual façade.
Yonder, just like other titles with the low-detail pastel visual façade, such as The Witness, is an extremely attractive game. And with the addition of the charming animal, and building models, the world of Yonder clicks into place, and comes across as genuine island, inhabited by genuine people. However, the beauty of Yonder, while being impressive at first, falls down the pecking order, as soon as one gets into the meat of the title. And just like the farming portion of the game, which one will forget about after mere minutes, the visual façade of the title will be nothing more than a background, to largely bland world.
Yonder as a title, takes place within a single island, and one which is incredibly large even for the modern indie game standards. However, where the island of the previously mentioned The Witness was a convincing realm filled with Interesting plot points, and interactive objects, then Yonder’s world is nothing more than a near-empty map, sprinkled with very limited amount of genuinely interesting things to do.
Yonder’s world might just be its biggest problem, as it is simply way too large for what the title is trying to accomplish. At times, when visiting numerous villages, caves, and ancient monuments, Yonder comes across as an interesting title, with a lot to offer, but unfortunately, the empty space between all the abovementioned locations is simply too large. And for the majority of your playthorough, you’ll feel like you are traversing through a completely dead world. But in all honesty, sometimes it is better to walk through an empty open plains, than it is to across a random NPC, who is walking about a previously inaccessible isle.
Yonder, on paper seems like an impressive feat of indie development. The promise of an open, sprawling world filled with an overwhelming amount of missions to complete sounds inviting. But in reality, Yonder is just like a vegan market. Yes, to an extent it is large, it is impressive, but the contents of it, to some, may be vomit inducing. However, others, will surely find it both inviting, and impressive and will be able to spend hours within its confines, constantly trying new things. But your average customer, will leave while not even half way through. And the only true difference between Yonder and the vegan market, might just be the fact that Yonder is troubled by constant frame rate related issues, which at times can be fury inducing.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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