There’s a time for games about shooting and sneaking and strategizing. There’s also a time when you just want to enjoy a simple life in a world more peaceful than your own. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is a game for that latter time.
Your hero has shipwrecked on the island of Gemea. You explore the land and uncover its mysteries, saving it from a strange fog that threatens the locals. But you’re also building a life for yourself in the meantime. You’ll chat with and help out other residents of the island, and they’ll help you in return. You learn to farm and craft, to cook and fish. I was playing it in a bustling, jostling convention center, but within seconds I fell into a zen-like relaxation. In large part, that’s because the game is so gosh darn adorable.
One of my early quests was to domesticate a groffle for my farm. A groffle, if you’re wondering, is a large, lumbering cow-like creature that really, really likes seeds. When I gave it a few seeds, the beast oozed pastel hearts and then bounced along after me back to my homestead. If your own heart doesn’t melt a bit watching that exchange, then you’re probably a soulless robot that’s incapable of experiencing joy.
Yonder is the latest game to iterate on the concepts of Harvest Moon, and if you enjoyed that or Stardew Valley or any of the other titles in that lineage, then this is definitely one to watch. It has a similar appeal to those other games, but stands apart for its sweet, almost childlike attitude.
I wouldn’t normally use ‘gentle’ as a game adjective, but it’s the word that best fits this one. Everything about it is soft, from the color palette to the rounded fonts. Even the Murk, the swirly purple mist that’s invading the island, is pretty non-threatening for a central antagonist. It’s a welcoming game that invites you in to escape your troubles for a few hours and maybe have a cup of tea and a cookie while you’re there.
Cheryl Vance, one of just three full-time members on the Prideful Sloth team, was showing off the game during PlayStation Experience. She talked about how being in a warm, comfy bed is one of the best feelings ever, and said Yonder aimed to recreate that sensation. That’s quite a tonal departure from the other work this trio has done; before launching Prideful Sloth, two of them worked on the Rocksteady Studios’ Batman games. But they’ve done an amazing job so far with making a game that’s downright snuggly.
Yonder is targeting a release in Q2 2017.