Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles Review

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is coming to Steam on July 18, 2017. Developed by Prideful Sloth, Yonder is about saving an island from the depressive grip of the Murk, a mysterious energy that is sapping the land of happiness. Through questing and exploring in a beautiful, open-world environment, players will collect tools, gather resources, manage farms, and help the island return to its former glory, with the help of the equally mysterious island spirits known as Sprites.

The Review:

My ship was caught in a fierce storm, and I stood at the bow, helpless against the ravaging seas. Thunder crackled in the sky, waves crashed around me, and then everything went black. I assumed that I was dead. “Good grief, Tom,” I thought to myself, “three minutes into this game and you’ve already managed to drown the little fellow.” Then my screen faded back into focus and relief washed over me. Aaerie, the spirit guardian of the island I washed up on, decided to give me a second chance at life.

Yonder is an adorable, friendly for all ages, game. The main aspects of Yonder are exploration and crafting. Players can purchase and customize farms and collect resources from their animals and crops as well as gather resources from the environment. The resources can then be traded to townsfolk to help complete focused objectives.

Compared to its contemporaries, Yonder is a fairly shallow game. Obviously geared at younger gamers, the crafting system in Yonder isn’t as complex or item-dense as I expected it to be. With that said, in addition to being shallow, the game is, at times, vague; it can be tedious to try and figure out how to craft/find a certain resource (where are you, Glue??). Yonder just always felt like it was created for children who have loads more free-time to gallivant around in a video game, than I do. Which is fine, but not necessarily what I am looking for in a game.

Almost every quest in Yonder is a fetch quest. “Go collect X of this resource, and Y of that resource, then bring them back here.” If it weren’t for how gorgeous Yonder’s island is, and how fun it is to explore that beautiful wilderness, I wouldn’t view my time with the game as favorably as I do.

Tucked away into every corner of Yonder’s island are treasure chest with cosmetic goodies or rare resources. Lost kittens are the game’s collectible and every biome has its group of missing kittens to find. Exploring the island is very worthwhile and I always found myself wondering, “Hmm, I wonder what’s just around that corner?”

Lots of people seem to want to compare Yonder to Stardew Valley and Zelda. It’s neither one of those games. It lacks the depth and replayability that Stardew Valley has, and while it’s a pretty, open-world game, the land is vacant of enemies to battle or puzzles to solve beyond finding a particular resource needed to complete a quest. In Yonder you simply gather, craft, trade, and collect. Rinse and repeat.

I’m going to go ahead and recommend Yonder; it’s not a bad game, and the things I disliked about it are based on my personal taste, rather than about the quality of the game. Ten hours in the game and I found nothing mechanically wrong with Yonder. I’m happy to say it’s a very solid game and Prideful Sloth certainly have created something to be, well, prideful of.

Recommended for: young gamers and players looking for a kind-hearted, calm game to explore for a few nights.
Not recommended for: players looking for the excitement of Zelda or the depth/replayability of Stardew Valley.

The developer provided Epic Brew with a copy of the game for the purpose of this review.

Slice of Life: Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds

In unison, myself and three friends sprinted across the field. Our rifles, our babies, rocked back-and-forth in our hands as we ran. There was no soothing lullabies for these babies though, just profane outbursts at the reckless, last-minute maneuver we were forced to undertake. You don’t need to be schooled in military theories to understand that a daytime jog across an open field with hostiles around, is a bad idea.

But we had no choice.

The game was corralling my friends and I into a randomly selected area like little fish in a lake that’s slowly drying up. If we didn’t make it to that area, our health would drain until we eventually died. We decided to move from the safety of a treeline in order to move into a cluster of cabins at the outskirts of a larger town. We estimated that the game would shift the playzone to end in the large town, so we wanted to move through the cabins before assaulting the town, which we also estimated was already occupied by like-minded players who just happened to get their first.

The only problem was the giant field we had to cross in order to get to the cabins.

About three-quarters of the way through the field, our hopes of safe-passage were sundered by the sounds of bullets whizzing in around us. Shots echoed in from the treeline that we had run out from. An enemy squad was hot on our six. The dirt around my feet kicked up as bullets pelted it, and my friend took a solid shot to the shoulder just a few yards ahead of me. A bullet clanged off of the frying pan I had dangling around my waist. We dashed behind the first cabin we came to, putting it between us and our attackers. We made it.

We spread out into the cabins and hunkered down. As my injured friend bandaged up his wound, the other three of us turned our sights back across the field, toward our aggressors. The cabins had plenty of windows to peek out from, so we kept to the shadows and used the game’s third-person camera to pan around and look out the windows.

Now it was time to turn the tables.

They would be forced out into the field when the game shifted the playzone our way; if they stayed put, they would die.

Sure enough, a few moments later, my friend called the coordinates. I checked my compass and shifted to a window that looked out in that direction. Three little shadows were trickling down the the treeline, about an acre away from the exact area we had just run out of. They passed out of the trees and began their assault on our position.

My friend opened up with his suppressed assault rifle, his shots were drowned out by the rest of our rifles, and the occasional puttering sound of my friend’s submachine gun. The enemy squad was caught out in the field. One by one our bullets found them and they collapsed into the field.

“Insta-kill,” my friend said over voice-coms, signaling that the player he shot just died instantly, indicating that there was no one left in his or her squad to revive them. With one less enemy squad to worry about we reload, quickly check the cabins for supplies, and begin planning our next steps.

All of this happened in under two minutes.

[Playerunknown Battlegrounds on Steam]