Platform: PC/ Steam Deck
Time to Finish: 12 hours
I was expecting to write more posts about Yonder than I have. I had so much fun playing it that by the time I got around to writing about it it was over. Quite suddenly, I might add. The main quest actually isn’t that long consisting of only 5 or 6 quests that need completed. It’s gated a bit by the number of Sprites found but overall, if I was just doing the main quest, I bet I could finish it in two or three hours.The rest of my time in Yonder was spent doing side quests, finding sprites, clearing murk, occasionaly picking up lost cats.
I bought Yonder in 2017 on release and put about 8 hours in to it before bouncing. I don’t remember why I stopped but it was probably because something new and shiny came along. But it’s a good example of why I don’t get buyers remorse for games I buy and play for only a little bit. Eventually there will be a time and a place where I want to come back and play said game.
Yonder is the game I needed right now. It’s an colorful exploration game with no combat, no real lose conditions, and repetitive but satisfying content. It’s a game I was able to play in short bursts or for long periods when time allowed. It was also a great game to throw on a podcast and wander around or fish. There’s nothing ground breaking here but it is a nice little world to explore and if you really like doing fetch quests this is the game for you.
Things I Liked:
World Exploration: This game’s world map takes inspiration from recent Ubisoft open world games. The map is littered with icons and question marks pointing out Points of Interest. Most of the quests have big markers on the map and mini map of exactly where you need to go. In case, that’s not enough, there’s also a big blue line you can summon to point you in the right direction. Now this might all sound like a negative but when you’re looking for a game where you can turn your brain off it’s a big ol’ positive.
It also helps that the world is easy to get around on foot and it looks great! There were only a few instances where I couldn’t figure out how to get somewhere right away.
Changes with the Seasons: There are seasons in Yonder and things actually change when the seasons change. And I don’t mean just the weather. Animals migrate to a different area or leave Gemea entirely for the season. There is a Halloween event in Bobbintoff at night in the Fall. Even the lost cats only appear in certain regions in certain seasons.
The Fast Travel System: The more hours I put in to the game the more I appreciated the “fast travel” system. I put that in quotes because it isn’t all that fast but I think it was done well.
There are Sage Stones in every region that lead to a central hub where other Sage stones can be accessed. Sometimes the stones are conveniently placed near a town but most of the time they’re in the middle of nowhere in the region. There are teleports scattered throughout that are portals from one particular spot to another. Some of the teleports are only active at night and some are only active during the day. I didn’t use these too much, I would go in them just to see where they led.
By far the best system was the farm teleports. Once a farm in a region is unlocked, a Traveler’s Knot can be crafted out of vine and stone that will teleport you to that farm. The farms are usually in pretty convenient places to access towns, crafting houses, and regions without farms. I used these the most.
But traveling through Gemea on foot isn’t all that bad. It helps that the total map size isn’t all that large. I found it big enough to find the fast travel methods useful but not so big it was a slog to go on foot. Traveling on foot also has the added benefit of finding treasure chests, tree planting plots, and cats I may have missed the last time I traveled through the region. Traveling in general never feels like a chore.
Things That Could Have Been Better:
The Barter System: I see what the intention here is and it is a unique system. You aren’t able to offload extra items in exchange for currency so wealth can’t be horded as easily. Inventory can fill up quickly if you’re adverse to outright destroying an item. Each town’s trader carries different stock, usually related to the Guild in that town and the stock is refreshed and items rotate every day. These traders are also want some items more than others and will pay more for items they need and less for ones they have.
The problem is, nothing is so expensive it can’t be bought with a few stacks of fodder or sticks. Items that are picked up relatively often while traveling. As I got further in the game and needed some more big ticket items to craft, I upgraded to trading berries since no matter where I went, except Mocha Bay with the Chef’s Guild, they were worth 50 value. My farm produced them like crazy so I was never strapped for cash.
Sure, I could have engaged with the system the way it was meant to be but I didn’t find crafting enjoyable enough to make items just to trade for slightly more than a couple berries.
Or maybe food is just scarce on the island.
Crafting: The crafting system is your standard collect materials to make a thing, craft more materials, and use those materials to craft a bigger item. I don’t mind that as a crafting system as it’s really common. The thing that made that particular crafting less enjoyable was not being able to pin materials needed for one of the bigger crafting items as check list. Instead, I found myself constantly having to craft a couple smaller parts and check the big ticket item continuously until I made enough to make the big item.
Now maybe I just have a bad memory for these things and this isn’t a big deal to most. But in a game where everything else has a checklist, it would have been nice to have one for crafting recipes.
How Does it Run on the Steam Deck?
It run’s great! The whole reason I started playing Yonder is because it was one of the first Steam Deck Verified titles that caught my eye in my library. Out of the box everything ran smoothly, all of the cut-scenes played. I didn’t limit the frame rate at all or make any performance tweaks. As a result, the battery usually only lasted two to two and a half hours. Plenty of time for me when it comes to playing on the Deck.
I only encountered on issue while playing on the Deck. I loaded up the game one day and it would start but immediately freeze once I got in to the game. I only had one save at this point and was panicing a little bit. Luckily, when I booted up the game on my PC everything worked fine. I immediately made 2 other save files and didn’t run into the issue again.