Probably the closest thing to pure bliss.
Video games are a particularly powerful medium for a multitude of reasons. They have the ability to offer literature at the same level as any medium; they grant escape from the real world when life becomes overwhelming; they serve as tests of skill and reward with pure enjoyment. Losing oneself to an expansive world filled with colorful characters and living communities can almost spirit one away. Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles allows players such an escape in to absolute bliss that finding a way back to the ‘real world’ seems almost irresponsible.
In Yonder, the player takes control of a slightly customizable character who is shipwrecked on an island after a particularly aggressive storm blew through his/her vessel. Fortunately, an ethereal spirit – a god, perhaps – wishes to see the player saved and protects him/her until he/she reaches the land. Once there, the player stumbles upon a fairy, a tiny and shiny creature that, when paired with more fairies, can dispel the purple murk that lingers over much of the island. It’s something that blocks the player’s path forward in numerous situations and its removal becomes his/her goal to progress through the game.
In journeying through the beautiful world of Yonder, the player will stumble, barter, or discover his/her way across various professions and tools. One of Yonder’s biggest features is its wide open world filled with endless amounts of resources to mine, cut, hammer, or chop. In addition, once the player clears the initial murk from a farm, he/she will be able to create a little place of his/her own and shepherd any assortment of docile and peaceful beasts within. As the player continues to gear up, he/she will be able to become a woodworker or weaver, for example, and construct greater items to aid in both his/her journey and home. Numerous NPCs will offer quests and help along the way, so speaking to each one yields much value.
As the subheader mentions, Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles may come as close to pure bliss as any game can. The visuals, while not ‘realistic’, per se, shine with such gentle colors and lights that, regardless of the time of day, soothe the soul. Likewise, the sounds of the island and the gentle soundtrack pair like few other games before, down to the simplest sounds of hammer cracking stone or axe eviscerating tree. There are no presumptions within Yonder, no arrogance permeating the air – just a simple game at heart with an expansive world to uncover and a plethora of options to explore.
If negatives creep into frame, it should be noted that there isn’t much to accomplish in Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles outside of exploration, collecting, crafting, and clearing the land of murk (along with the numerous questing opportunities). This should deter few, however, as the world and its living, breathing existence prove to be all one needs. The gentle nature of this game brings a zen like state of mind to the player, and its soothing genius will linger far after he/she puts down the Nintendo Switch.