Tying Up Loose Ends

It just might

The end of the story in Yonder came rather quickly. I didn’t quite feel finished with the game once the credits rolled. There were some leftover quests I hadn’t done yet, spirits I hadn’t found, and a pesky murk or two left on the map.

The end of the main story does unlock some post game quest lines. There is the Master Crafter quest line that opens up the Master Crafter Crafting recipes. These are a lot of shampoos and backpacks. All of the shampoos I had found along the way but the backpacks are unique crafted items.

Then there was a quest line to bring peace to Gemea. This involves getting each region to 95% happiness. I had this mostly completed already as I made it a priority to complete as many quests and clear the as much murk in each zone as I could before moving on. In the zones that I was missing, setting up a farm with a few animals seemed to add a ton of happiness to the region. Once all of the regions were happy I was able to find the last animal in my journal: The mythical Kirin.

With these completed, I still wanted to keep playing so I took a look at the achievements I had yet to complete. I’m not typically an achievement chaser. Steam says I have 6 perfect games and 4 of those are games that give you all the achievemnets by the time you reach the end. But I only had six to finish ad none of them looked all that hard:

A Spritely Adventure – All Sprites Found

By the time I had reached the end of the game I had found 24 out of 26 sprites. The two I missed were both in the Radiant Sands. The first needed an offering of 3 sunglasses before they would come out and join me. The second was hiding in a breakable rock in the northwest corner of the zone. It took me a couple passes of the entire zone before I found it.

I’m Board – Complete 10 Quest Board Missions

Board missions have you gather certain goods and turn them in to a person for 1 old kingdom coin. The reward isn’t great. There are tons of other ways to earn or find Old Kingdom coins. The shops you can spend Old Kingdom coins in have very few items that can’t be aquired another way. It’s no wonder why only 3.1% of people have this achievement.

This llama has to be bribed with warm milk to follow me.

Critter Crazy – Adopt every type of animal in the game.

This is one of those achievements that made me engage in a system I hadn’t spent much time on. I had adopted a couple animals on my first farm but didn’t pursue it much on the others. Animals produce trade goods that range from high value (Groffle Mil) to very low value (rocks).Planting berries turned out to be the better option economically and used less materials to craft than the animal shelters and food stations.

The hardest part of this achievement was getting animals on farms that lived in regions without farms. Each animal has something it preffers to eat and once fed will follow you for a little bit. They are basically escort quests where the NPC your escorting gets bored with you and wanders off.

The problem becomes, when there are long distances between habitat and farm I needed multiple items to keep them interested. This wasn’t so bad for animals who ate simple resources like fodder but was an issue for animals eating complex crafting recipes like Poutine.
There is also the matter of animals migrating throughout the season. Some animals disapear completely during certain seasons or move around the zone. So it could be a challenge to track down the one I was looking for before they moved again.

Cat-tastic – Completed The Cat Lady and Her 55 Cats

This is the achievement for finishing the quest “the Cat Lady and her 55 Cats” in which you scour the island looking for lost cats. As it turns out, there are more than 55 cats around Gemea but she only wants 55 of them back. The rest of them must be someone elses who hasn’t put up a quest yet.
The cats are sorted into category? Breed? Species? one of those. So it’s easy to see which ones you still need once the quest is activated.

By the time I got to the end of the game I had about half of these cats. They make a very distinct meow when you’re close to one. Even so, there were some that I hadn’t found any or very few of like the Snowy Milk or Summer Longtail.

I ended up using the Yonder wiki to track them down and it’s a good thing I did. Certain cats only appear in certain seasons. The Summer Longtail appears only in summer and the Snowy Milk only appear in the winter.

This lead me to go after other achievements while waiting for the seasons to change. Once the correct season came I would hike back to the correct zone to find the cats.

I wish I was able to catch this jellyfish!

A Fishy Collection – Catch all types of fish.

This was another achievement I wiki’d my way through. I had about half of the fishing journal completed by the time I finished the story.

The Trader in Mocha Bay sells just about all of the fish except the Gigalev Fish. So really all I needed to do was keep trying my luck on the Gigalev and check back at the Trader everyday to see if a fish I hadn’t caught was in stock.

By far the hardest to catch was the Gigalev. The wiki says that it can be caught in the ocean in Crestfall Coast, Hearthwind Vale, Radiant Sands, and Shivering Plains in any season. Well I fished in Crestfall Cove through summer and fall and didn’t find one. Once winter came, I was spotting them every other cast. The Gigalev is giant, it takes up most of the fishing area which means it’s hard to see all the other fish. A few times I thought I had it on the line only to watch it swim away as a smaller fish took the bait.

I’m Your #1 Fan! – Violet Finds her Epic Joke

Violet is an NPC who appears in each town. Every time you talk to her she has a joke to tell. Once you talk to her in every town. I tried to find her in between waiting for the correct season for fishing and collecting lost cats.

Chasing after the achievements added a whopping 10 extra hours on to the game. By the time I caught my last fish I felt ready to put this one away. Not because I was sick of it but because my save reads 100% and I don’t think I have anything else to do!

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.

A Visit to Wimblewick and Bobbintoff

I have one more quest to complete in the Grasslands area. A sailor is looking for his missing crew and he’s given me some hints as to where they could be. Surprisingly, they are not marked on the mini map or glowing off in the distance brighter than the sun so it appears I’ll actually have to look for them. I’ve run around the area a few times and come to the conclusion that they aren’t in the Grasslands and I’ll need to venture out to a new zone.

Yonder has quite a few boxes to tick for each zone. The main ones tracked on the map are mist cleared, farm progress, Sprites found, quests completed, and trees planted which increase the happiness of the region. The happier the region the more bonuses for that region. Every region seems to have the same bonuses: 1.5x harvest, 1.5x animal sightings, and 1.5x faster farm production. I’m already past the 75% happiness for the last bonus in the Grasslands so it’s probably time to move on anyways.

But where to go? I intended to follow the main story and I did for a time. I ended up  in the town of Wimblewick where Rex, the Ferryman was looking for some help to fix his ferry. He sent me to the Carpenters Guild to get some supplies for the repairs. Instead of pointing me in the right direction for materials Agatha Woodgrain inducted me in to the Carpenters Guild with quite a few wood related puns. Then told me to go make the materials myself. Lucky for me, I had most of the raw materials I needed and any extra bits were all readily available at the trader close by. Like I mentioned last time, I had to do one quest to go from novice Carpenter to Master Carpenter so now I’m an expert. Materials in hand, I made my way back to Rex to fix the boat.

With the ferry fixed, Rex can take me across the way to the Old Kingdom in the Radiant Sands. This is where the next step of the main quest line lies. But I somehow ended up wandering down south to the Hearthwind Vale and doing some exploring instead.

Oh is it now?

I arrived in the town of Bobbintoff, which is just a fantastic name for a town,  as the sun was setting. Upon entering, Kit, one of my collected Sprites who looks like a stylized Baby Yoda, let me know that it was Halloween. It’s currently Fall on the Island so this seems to be a seasonal event of some sort. I had a choice to make: dress as up as a Witch or a Vampire Butler (seems oddly specific. I had to go with the Vampire Butler to see what that was about.

Nothing says Vampire Butler like a bowler hat.

Once I donned the costume, I went to each door to trick or treat. Some of the residents were confused, some gave me mysterious candy, and some just weren’t home to celebrate. There were also some green jack-o-lanterns that gave out mysterious candy as well. Having knocked on every door and found every jack-o-lantern I had around 50 mysterious candy rattling around in my backpack. I found a vendor in town who trades candy for some spooky accessories. 50 it seems was not enough to purchase everything so it looks like I’ll need to stop in Bobbintoff next Fall to collect the rest.

I’m getting the feeling some of the spookier residents don’t know it’s Halloween

During the day, Bobbintoff is home to the Tailors Guild. I became a novice Tailor by inquiring with the Guildmaster. It looks like these recipes will be a bit harder to make since they require different color dyes. The trader in town sells only one of each dye so I’ll have to stop back when their inventory refreshes. Whenever that might be. I put all of my collected resources into crafting Tailor’s Kits and Leather Straps which put me around 700 Value, I’m holding out for buying more dye so I can craft some more fashion items. If I’m going to be a Master Tailor after this I have to look good after all.
I think my next stop will be popping over to the Radiant Sands and picking the story back up to see where that leads. Hopefully I’ll have enough Sprites to clear out some murk over there and keep the story going. If not, I’m sure I’ll find myself back in Hearthwind Vale before too long!

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.