As I get older and slower with my reaction speeds in terms of gaming – and especially aiming – I am relieved that not all games rely on combat. In fact, I’m pretty over the moon when there isn’t any combat to be had at all, letting me sit back, take in the sights and just be a tourist moving through someone else’s imagination. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is the perfect game for this, what with its family-friendly Zelda-like universe and the ability to take in quests, craft items, farm, and wear mad costumes. Now though Yonder has gone and got itself a visual makeover, adding 4K and 60fps to the many strings in its bow. Are you ready for a stroll in wonderland?
We originally reviewed Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles on Xbox One back in 2019, giving the game an impressive 4.5/5 on its first outing. It was back then when it was first released on Xbox and we were treated to a story that would follow a young girl. She begins the game onboard a ship which, of course, crashes, leaving her to wander the mysterious and magical land of Gemea. This land is a magical place full of creatures, people, settlements, and wonders – but it has fallen foul to something horrible… the murk. It’s up to you to find out what is the source of this blight and cure the land of its ills.
The story is full of colorful characters that you meet along the way and is very kid-friendly. It’s like walking around a storybook that is fully focused on fantasy and environments rather than some deep RPG lore.
Gameplay-wise there is no combat to be had whatsoever in Yonder, and there is no threat of death except from falling into the sea. And even then you are immediately placed back onto the shore. When you fall off a high place, for example, the little girl floats safely down to the ground on a little umbrella. There is not even a health bar or leveling up or time restrictions to worry about. It’s my kind of relaxing game.
The first part of the gameplay sees you working through exploration periods where you can just go out into the world and do what the hell you want to do. If you just want to wander around meeting the animals, collecting seeds, and opening chests, you can. You can also follow the main quest storyline by taking on the jobs requested to you from villagers. This involves you clearing the murk from areas and accessing more of the world, doing so by gathering up and collecting sprites; flying companions. Certain murk areas will require several sprites to clear it up, so it’s up to you to find as many of them as you can.
There are multiple side quests to get involved in and of course, there are activities to get your teeth into. There’s a spot of farming to be had, where you clear the land, design the farm to your specs and then raise animals and crops. You can also take in a spot of fishing and catch some real whoppers. There is even a spot of brewing and cooking to be had. Crafting is key though, and you can open recipes from items and objects you can find across the land. Further to that, you’ll be able to trade away with the villages and you soon find the hours have disappeared. Yet there’s more, including customisations for your character in how they look and what accessories they can wear. With the Xbox Series X|S version, there are more of these to choose from.
The visual upgrades that accompany this Series X|S release can be seen firstly in the clouds and the sky. There is some fantastic lighting and a nice visual sheen to the whole game, and that is something which is clear from the opening hours. Everything looks lovely and the world is clearly a relaxing place to spend some time in. It still has an old-fashioned look about it and feels like a Nintendo game, but maybe this is something that should be welcomed in the shooty shooty worlds of the Xbox universe. The game runs at 60fps which is good if you love that kind of thing, but honestly, I’m neither here nor there on those matters. What is nice though is that the soundtrack moves along sprightly, with a jaunty feel to it and some interesting audio effects.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles on Xbox Series X|S is a very pleasant experience. It’s a joyful game which will let you wander around to your heart’s content, collecting things, talking to things, farming things, and wearing things. The non-threat of death or combat is a nice option to have, and that should ensure that this will make for a brilliant family friendly experience. When you include that the Xbox Series X|S version has the addition of fluid movement and some upgraded visuals over the Xbox One edition, and things get better still.
If you want something special then Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles could be for you.
Pick up an Xbox Series X|S Optimised copy of Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles from the Xbox Store