Backlogged – Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

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.

You’re not wrong Interlade Troll….

Things I Liked:

Map markers every where!

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.

The Halloween event in Bobbintoff.

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.

One of the night time teleports. Not so active in the day.

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.

When’s the last time you saw blogging mentioned in a game?

Things That Could Have Been Better:

Here’s a handful of berries for your manufactured goods.

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.

My feeling exactly…

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.

Wandering Around Yonder

According to my last and only save file, I last played Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles in 2017. I thought I had written a post about it at some point but when I went back to read it there was no post to be found published, in drafts, or otherwise. I must have not gotten around to it. I do remember I was going to call it something like Fetch Quest: The Game though. That’s what has stuck with me over the years when I think of Yonder. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I remember it being enjoyable actually. Enough to want to give it another shot a few years later.

I didn’t intentionally set out to start another play-through. I was going through my library and looking at Verified games for the Steam Deck. Right there at the bottom of the list was Yonder. I just wanted to see how it would run (it runs great by the way). I started a new game, because there was no way I was picking up a 4 year old save and went through the little tutorial. Then I got to the first area and started to remember a bit more about the game. I did a quest or two, chopped down a few trees and before I knew it an hour had passed and didn’t want to put it down.

Gemea’s Fall Damage Prevention Kit

Yonder is a game about exploration. It has some trading, farming, crafting, and resource gathering in it as well but at it’s heart it’s about exploring the world the world, collecting things, and finding little Sprites scattered aroudn the world.. There is no combat, it’s just you, your tools, and the needy inhabitants of Gemea who can’t be bothered to do things like pick up sticks from the ground or talk to the trader standing next to them. Nope, that’s my job! Happy to do it!

The majority of my time has been running from place to place sucking up every material in sight like a vacuum for these people. . There are a ton of these quests in each zone and the only reward is a little notification about the amount of quests remaining in the zone. That’s good enough I guess.

More often than not these guys are not happy to see me. They do love living in my backpack though.

There’s also a story but I haven’t been progressing it to much yet. A mysterious mist has settled in places around the island and it’s up to me and my spirit friends to dispel it and figure out where it’s coming from. I just have to find the Sprites hidden among the island first. Each mist needs a certain amount of Sprites found to get rid of it. So far I’ve found 7 of these little guys.

Last but not least there is a bunch of things to collect along the way. There are missing cats, treasure chest, clothes, hair styles, fish, crafting recipes and more cats. I was also given a farm not long after my arrival. If I lure animals in to it after feeding them their favorite food I can “adopt” them. And by adopt I mean put them in a pen and have them make trade goods while I’m out and about. I think they can also come on my adventure with me if I so choose. I’ve set up my farm with a large animal house for my Griff, a small animal house for my fox, and a garden for the seeds I’ve been picking up.

I’ll trade you six bundles of sticks, 5 bundles of grass, and a fish for a pickax. Seems fair.

The trade system is based of bartering. Goods have an assigned currency value at the traders but there isn’t any currency. Most raw materials are worth around 1 currency with the crafted goods going for a lot more. Each town has something they need so goods in one town are worth more than another. With all the raw materials I’ve been picking up, I’m usually able to get what I need just trading the grass and sticks I’ve picked up. It’s a good thing my inventory is so large.

There’s a crating system which involves finding the different guilds on the island and asking nicely to join. There isn’t much to it, as long as you have the required materials in inventory you can make the item. So far I have joined the Carpenters Guild and the Tailors Guild. I started out as a novice and was given some basic crafting recipes and a quest to craft enough items to be worth 1000 in value. You might think, like I did, that there would be a couple of the quests to do. Each time increasing your rank, unlocking some more recipes, and having to craft a a greater value of items. But like me, you’d be wrong. As soon as I turned in the quest to the Carpenters Guild I was told I was now a Master Carpenter. I’m assuming the same is true for the rest of the guilds. Though right now I’m having a hard time sourcing materials for the Tailors guild since the trader there seems to only stock one of each item. I’m not sure how often their inventory updates. It’s something I’m still looking in to.

Objective straight ahead!

Yonder is not a challenging game, it’s not a game that you have to use critical thinking skills, it’s a game that literally points out the next objective with a very bright light. It’s a game where boxes are checked, items are discovered, and there is no danger in exploring. It’s a very relaxing game and it’s one that I’m very much in need of right now.