Yonder

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Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles opens with mystery. After years of being away from your island home, you are returning. Where you’ve been, what you’ve done, are all non-issues. As you sail near the island, your boat is struck by lightning. And then, a spirit named Aaerie appears…

“WHAT IS THAT!? That’s scary.” – Wyatt, age 8

You are then tasked with removing the Murk, the bad stuff, that has infected the land.

Cast onto the rocks of the island of Gemea, you wake up wet and cold. You venture forward, knowing you must head yonder.

Yonder excels at encouraging the player to keep moving forward. See that mountain over there? Let’s go explore it! The core exploration is fantastic, as the world feels alive and begging for adventure. Wyatt and I found ourselves tromping all over the place. Minutes would span into hours. And in a first for us, Yonder caused us to fight over who was playing. An achievement for developer Prideful Sloth.

We love running around and exploring. But we dislike the Pokémon collecting, lite farm simulator, and generic MMO quest system.

Nothing like Pokémon Collecting

To defeat the Murk, you, the player, need to collect Sprites. Think Pokémon-like creatures who enjoy playing hide-n-seek. Some Sprites are captured by simply finding them. Tag. You’re it! Other Sprites require small quests of appeasement, a “I’ll join your quest if you give me 5 wood”, sort of thing. The Sprites are cute. However, they do not add special powers or unique interactions to the game. I feel like this was a missed opportunity. As they exist, Sprites are content gatekeepers. Want to destroy the Murk in this area? Sorry, you need to collect 5 more Sprites.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Early in the game, you come across a farm with broken fences. You are immediately tasked with bringing the old place back to life. Once done, you discover that this is no farm but a ranch. A place to hold animals, who poop, a lot. Yonder allows the building of various animal pens by collecting materials. That’s about it. While I wasn’t expecting a Stardew Valley experience, Yonder left me wanting more.

The Compass is Broken

As Aaerie tasks you with clearing up the Murk, she gives you a Celestial Compass to give you your bearings. The compass shoots a beam of light to the quest giver for whichever quest you are on. The big problem, for Wyatt and I, is that the compass only points at the original quest giver. The compass does not update location based on where the player is in the quest. As it stands, the compass is a broken tool we’d love to see fixed.

Which leads me to talk about the quest system. The quest system comes across as padding or filler. There is nothing meaningful in having to collect x-amount of wood for an individual. Modern quest design has pushed past the “kill ten rats” mindset. Yonder tries to wrap this generic design around meaningful stories. For example, the one quest that sticks out to me is one where we helped a lady grow a beard. This required us to go to a specific pond at night. Collect a certain type of fish (Side Note: The fishing mechanic is spot on). Prepare the correct concoction, etc. A silly but unique quest. I wish more of the game’s quests were as memorable.

Wyatt’s Thoughts:

The Good

  • I like running around and exploring.
  • I like being friends with the animals.
  • It feels like playing a Link game with no monsters or weapons.

The Bad

  • The day and night cycle is too fast (but I think that’s their point).
  • I don’t understand the story or what is going on.

Bottom Line:

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles failed to grab Wyatt and I. This is not to say that the game is bad. Yonder is a good game that is perfect for playing with children in the room. For us though, we needed a reason to keep coming back. Depth to either the farming system or to collecting Sprites would have done this. If you are looking for a game to play with your family that encourages exploration, Yonder is the game for you. Prepare for many hours of walking, map reading, and feeding all the animals. As your in-game pockets fill with items collected, perhaps Yonder will grab you more than it did Wyatt and I.

wavesplinter2/5 – A beautiful game that lacks purpose.

Wave SplinterTitle: Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Developer: Prideful Sloth
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
Reviews on: PlayStation 4
MSRP: $19.99

*Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was reviewed using a code provided by developer Prideful Sloth.

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The Long Hall – Episode Two

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I went to bed depressed after recording this episode. Jonathan Clauson, someone I’ve internet-known for quite sometime, joined me on The Long Hall. He got talking about how his son doesn’t think he is cool anymore… how their relationship has changed over time. Our conversation continued from there… but that is what got to me. Could there come a day where Wyatt doesn’t see me as anything less than awesome? The thought of that… bummed me out.

But don’t let that bum you out. Check out this episode and let me know what you think in the comments below OR even better yet, via an iTunes review.

– Show Links – 

Guest: Jonathan Clauson

– Download Links – 

Broken Jars Broadcasting

iTunes

Introducing: The Long Hall Podcast

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Well, I finally did it. I finally:

  • Sat down and planned things out
  • Scheduled a guest
  • Recorded
  • Edited (I may hate Audacity)
  • And Posted

All that said, I would like to introduce you to my new podcast project, The Long Hall.

Take a listen to the pilot episode and tell me what you think in the comments below.

The Electronic Monster in My Pocket

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Every time we go to a school event, I’m struck by parents glued to their phones.

The other day, I watched a parent sitting in front of me flip through their cell phone’s menu screen. Aimlessly. No doubt with a delightful internal monologue:

“Which app do I choose? I haven’t played Clash Royale in ages. Ah, don’t make eye contact! They might want to talk!!”

The introvert side of me gets it. The phone provides a safety blanket against scary “stranger” conversations. As a parent, as a dad, I wonder what the kids see though. Do they see parents:

  • Distracted/not present in the moment?
  • Displaying the same electronic habits at home?
Put it down.

The screen is so magical!

I know that being in a crowd of people we don’t know can be intimidating. I know that it is easier to escape into a phone, look important, and ignore those around us. But at what cost does our escape come at? What are we modeling for our children when we can’t even put down our phones for a moment?

I’m not trying to sound judgmental nor make others feel guilty. I’ve used my phone to ignore people many times. The thing is, I want my son to know that he is important. That I can be present in the moment. No matter how hard or uncomfortable that might be.

When You Don’t Have The Feels

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I’m not sure I knew what to expect when my son was born. Years of watching television and film had distorted my thoughts. Scenes where the happy couple, wife exhausted, cry and share this new family bond were the norm. Right?

Now I know that my son’s birth experience wasn’t typical. He was born early. My wife had to have an emergency c-section. I was more worried about her than my son.

About the time they pulled him out, she started to feel dizzy. The doctor’s weighed Wyatt and then rushed him out of the room. No emotional moment here. My wife and I were alone, again.

If I could tell expecting dads one thing:

Do not beat yourself up if you do not experience this grand moment of feeling. That insta-bond/love singing from the highest heavens moment doesn’t happen for everyone. And that is okay.

Took me awhile to overcome the shock of being a dad. My wife and I were no longer alone. The little dude’s screaming confirmed this.

Love often takes time, so do not feel guilty when you don’t have the feels. They’ll come.