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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles – Nintendo Switch Review

A Masterclass of Whimsical Adventure.

Editor’s note: The score of 7/10 was accidentally put for this title. This was to be a placeholder, but was posted in error. The true score has been updated. 

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles is the latest game from the folks over at Prideful Sloth. It takes cues from open world games like Breath of the Wild, Crafting games like Minecraft, and sprinkles in a little town building ala Dark Cloud. Yonder creates a wonderful, albeit flawed, whimsical adventure that’s  worth every moment. It’s a beautifully crafted adventure that has you exploring vast landscapes with a massive smile sprawled across your face and sets the tone right from the start. After creating your character you will explore an open world to find Sprites (magical creatures that help you unlock mysteries of the world), gather resources, and help local inhabitants.  You’ll do all of this with no combat nor any real sense of urgency.  In this unique way Yonder allows you to focus on its most important aspect – Fun.

The Calm before for Mincraftian Storm

The games opens up with you on a ship heading towards the island of Gemea. Upon landing on the island you are given the simple task of harvesting some resources. Soon after you are set on task after task with more and more options at your disposal. That’s the main crux of Yonder: Resource harvesting and management. You will be building different tools to help you gather larger, rarer resources which in turn will help you discover and craft more items. That game play loop is ingeniously addicting and at times the amount of crafting recipes seems almost endless. It keeps progression from feeling tedious and makes it feel more like it’s own adventure. What’s problematic is that crafting can sometimes feel obtuse and never quite feels as intuitive as it should for a game centered around crafting and building. It’s strange considering that the game is clearly aimed at younger audiences and a more casual crowd. Despite that, it is quite easy to get lost in wanting to discover one more item or one more area.

Each area you unlock has it’s own progression associated with it. As you complete quests in a given area this percentage will slowly tick up toward that golden 100% mark. It gives Yonder that “checking boxes” feel of certain open world games like Assassin’s Creed.

 A Helping Farmhand

While plugging away at helping townsfolk I came across a dilapidated farm. A young farmer tasked me with rebuilding the farm to its former glory. This portion of the game had me going back to my memories of one of my favorite games, Dark Cloud.  Piece by piece you reassemble the farm and reap its benefits. While you have the creativity to build what you want and when. Where you build it on the farm is just as predetermined as Dark Cloud was, which is a slight bummer. There is something about wanting to have the farm flow my way as opposed to the way the game wants me to. It is a minor gripe, but a gripe nonetheless.

Do it Again and Again

What you do in Yonder doesn’t vary very much. Helping out townspeople and farmers is basically one fetch quest after another.  Exploring the world and casually unlocking new items to craft is really what kept me pushing forward, even if I thought maybe it was time to put the Switch down and do something else. There is just something about the charm. As you move forward you clear some murky areas to reveal and unlock more portions of the map. Outside of that and helping the townspeople there isn’t much to do. As I had mentioned before, that didn’t really bother me. I was more focused on just plugging away and enjoying myself in a Animal Crossing/Minecraft kind of way, minus death and taxes of course.

The Verdict

Overall, Yonder is flawed in what it isn’t trying to be, but a master at what it is; an adventure of exploration.  Here you will not find monsters to kill or starvation to stave off, just a beautiful word to discover and rebuild. Yonder is about peaceful exploration of a charming world where you learn little by little how you can create change one errand at a time. This game is perfect for sitting down with a little one and having fun. Those looking for action and challenge, or maybe something more stimulating, might want to look elsewhere.

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was provided by Stride PR for Prideful Sloth for review. Total Playtime approx 11 hours. 

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Opinions

The Proven 5: Game Series That Desperately Need A Part III

Nowadays, game sequels rarely end at the number two mark. Just recently it was confirmed that the latest God of War title would be the start of a new trilogy. And while developers are planning on setting up extensive, multi-game franchises, there are plenty of games that unfortunately came to a premature end after only one sequel. So here are five two-game series in need of a third installment.

Left 4 Dead

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZgybPDuNDI

Many games have tried to emulate what Left 4 Dead the magic was able to capture: frantic four-player cooperative gameplay with a whole lot of attitude.  Payday and Evolve tried their best to recreate what made the Left 4 Dead series so memorable but it seems that the formula isn’t so easily reproduced. And while we are all aware of Left 4 Dead 3 never being a thing due to Valve’s apparent allergy to the number ‘3’, a boy can dream, right?

Army of Two

I know what you are thinking: ‘this guy goes from Left 4 Dead to Army of 2?!’ And yes, I admit that Army of Two doesn’t have quite the following as the FPS zombie shooter, but man this game was a complete blast as a cooperative experience. Though the goofy plot was serviceable at best, the combat was solid, and being able to run through a entire campaign with a buddy sitting next to you made the experience a tad more special. With two unique characters in a balls-to-the-wall action movie scenario made the Army of Two series a unique enough experience. Given today’s advancements to the third-person shooter genre, we can a whole host of remarkable changes to Army of Two that would make a third installment a standout title.

 

Dark Cloud

You didn’t think I would write a list article and not include Dark Cloud in some way, did you? The first Dark Cloud was a revelation for me as a gamer. Deep weapon customization, world building, engaging combat and fun characters were only a few things of what makes this game so prominent in my memory. Dark Cloud 2 changed art styles and refined the combat, but almost did a little too much different from the first installment. A third installment could take all the lessons learned from the past two generations and create something truly special. Just thinking of the amount of weapon permutations makes me giddy.

Jade Cocoon

Jade Cocoon was  a unique experience when it came out for the original Playstation back in the day. It was a monster breeding game that took the best parts of Pokemon  – the creature capture aspect – and mixed with something like Spore. Oh, and it is actually a decent RPG as well. I am actually shocked that Genki hasn’t revisited this franchise, especially since it hasn’t done anything worth a damn ever since. Seriously, how awesome would it be to capture, raise, combine and fight with monsters that are not Pokemon? Oh and when I say combine, I literally mean combine’ you combine monsters and make completely unique monsters out of them. Why isn’t there more of this game?!

Mega Man Legends

It is extremely rare that a traditional 2D franchise can make the leap to 3D with the same style and grace that made its sprite-based origins so appealing. Nintendo’s lovable plumber and green tunic hero are arguably the a few exceptions to the rule. But Capcom’s Blue Bomber is not to far behind them. Mega Man Legends was far from perfect. In fact, it is often criticized for its semi-awkward control scheme. But despite a few technical shortcomings, the game took the basic structure of its 2D counterparts and translated it into a 3D adventure game that felt fresh for series fans and newcomers alike. And – big shocker – the game actually told a compelling story. Unfortunately for fans of the series, Mega Man Legends 3 was canned and a sequel is as unlikely as…

BONUS ENTRY BECAUSE I KNOW YOU WILL DESTROY ME IN THE COMMENTS

Half-Life

Because…you know…what did you expect?

So what do you think? Do you have any favorite yet short-lived series deserve more than two entries? Did Valve not make any of them? Let us know in the comments section below.

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Opinions Playstation 4 Sony

The Top 5 Playstation Titles Bluepoint Games Should Remake Next

With the recent remake of Shadow of Colossus being met with overwhelming critical acclaim and capturing the hearts of an entirely new generation of players, many are left wondering: where does Bluepoint Games go from here?  While many are eager for the Austin-based developer to shed its ‘master of remasters’ title and create an original work of their own, I would argue that Bluepoint Games should continue to do what it does best. And so, here are the Top 5 Playstation Titles Bluepoint Games should consider remaking.

5) Metal Gear Solid

So, Konami…how’s uh…Metal Gear Survive working out for you? Oh, not so great, huh? Well, perhaps what you need to do is try to get back in good graces with the gaming community. What better way to do that than to remake the title that propelled Solid Snake into stardom: Metal Gear Solid.Bluepoint already did a Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, so they know the series intimately. Let’s face it, the Fox Engine was destined for more than just a zombie-horde multiplayer mess. Speaking of things Konami messed up…

4) Silent Hill

Damn you, P.T.! Why did you have to be so good? WHY DID YOU GET MY HOPES UP, KONAMI!? For those of you not in “the know”, P.T. a.k.a “Playable Trailer” (nobody calls it that), was a teaser for Silent Hills, a Silent Hill sequel with the potential to completely reinvent the franchise. It was to be a collaboration between Hideo Kojima and Guillermo Del Toro. Needless to say, people lost their damn minds over the possibilities. Well, Konami ran Kojima out of town and Silent Hills was forever lost to the mist. Sure, we now have Death Stranding to look forward to, but Silent Hill has been neglected for years now (and no, Pachinko Games DON’T COUNT!).  A recreation of the original, terrifying Silent Hill would be a spectacular way to make up for the Silent Hills fiasco.

3) Driver

Released back in 1999 for the PS1, Driver was a complete game changer for the genre; it set an incredibly high bar for story driven, high octane driving. Spread across four distinct cities, Driver’s insane chase sequences and ground-breaking physics made it a must-have title for Playstation owners. While Driver received a minor face-lift when it was ported to iOS  in 2009, it was hardly worth of such a watershed title in Playstation history. Bluepoint Games can completely redesign the cities from the ground up, making them bigger and more realistic worlds to explore. Is there a place for this series in such a crowded driving landscape? Maybe not, but nostalgia alone might be worth the investment.

2) Dark Cloud

Dark Cloud is a long time favorite game of my Nintendo Duel Screen’s Co-host, Stephen Fontana. He asked me to add it to the list, but he really didn’t have to do much convincing. Dark Cloud was an incredibly deep dungeon crawling RPG with an insane weapon crafting mechanic. Throw in an adorable town building mechanic and funny/unique characters and you got yourself a recipe for a classic action-rpg. A sequel was released a couple of years later and both games were touched up and given trophy support last year on PSN, but a full fledged Bluepoint Games remake is incredibly enticing.

1) Legacy of Kain: Soul Reaver

Released in 1999 for the Sony Playstation 1Crystal Dynamics’ tale of a vampire turned specter was met with critical acclaim. Fans have been clamoring for a remake/reboot for years now. And given that Crystal Dynamics is hard at work its Avengers Project, Bluepoint Games would be a logical second choice to helm the franchise reboot and reintroduce Raziel and Kain to the world.

Well that is it. What do you think? This list can easily be a top 20, so what would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments below.