Review Fix chats with Yonder developer Cheryl Vance, Game Designer and Co-Founder of Prideful Sloth, who lets us know why it’s a game should be getting excited about.
Review Fix: How was this game born?
Cheryl Vance: Yonder is a game that has been bubbling around in our heads for nearly five years now. We were working in large studios in the UK, but there came a time where we wanted to trade in the cold British winters and head back to Australia.
We knew that in trading in the weather, we’d be trading off on job security. Australia has a lot of amazing and talented independent developers, but it lacks larger, established studios. So with this in mind we decided to form our own studio: Prideful Sloth.
So, with everything packed and ready to ship back to Australia, we took that bubble of an idea and started to flesh it out. And Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles was born.
Review Fix: What was development like?
Vance: Development on Yonder has been amazing. It’s been a lot of hard work, long hours, some tears, and a few heated debates. But these all came about because every one of us on the team cares about the project.
We learned a lot about ourselves and what we can achieve when we put our minds to it. That there were opportunities that were so good, you didn’t stress about how you were going to achieve something – You just started breaking down the tasks and utilising all available resources to get it done.
Review Fix: What makes the story special?
Vance: In Yonder, there are no cliché heroes or villains – There are just people and their merits and faults. There is a very subtle yet very poignant part of the story that stands out for me. As you progress through the story, you learn about the history of the world, and a certain mistake that was made; a mistake that ultimately led to bringing the murk to the world. However, you also learn about why this happened. In learning about that mistake, it reframed my feelings and gave me an understanding as to the simple and pure motive behind the evil that came forth.
I also find the overarching connection to nature in the story to be very important. It gives the player hope and a sense that they can directly impact the world for good. And that’s a great feeling.
Review Fix: What games influenced this one the most?
Vance: Early Zelda games have been an influence, no doubt. There is the farming aspects of Yonder that were inspired by Harvest Moon & Story of Season series.
There are other moments, other elements that have been inspired by games you may not expect though…
Shadow of the Colossus was just amazing for how alive the world felt and yet it was so desolate. The living, breathing world they created was fantastic.
Fallout and Elder Scrolls series for open world exploration.
There is also a love of Japanese RPG’s that have influenced me in general decisions: series such as Pokémon and Persona. Infinite Space, Dark Cloud and Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: My Life as a King.
Outside of games there is inspiration from Studio Ghibli. There is also the inspiration from nature; from all the magnificent places I’ve lived in and travelled to.
Review Fix: Any fun stories or wild moments during development?
Vance: I am not sure if counts as a ‘fun’ moment as such. But at the start of April we decided we wanted to get a puppy. We already have one dog who’s just shy of 2 years of age now, and we thought it’d be wonderful to get him a ‘friend’ to help keep him company while we were working long hours.
Needless to say, we forgot, or more so erased, from our minds how much work puppies are! But when you are up working till 2 or 3 am, and you have a good big brother to help out, it turns out it wasn’t the worst mistake we could make.
Puppies also have the magical property to relieve stress. You can be having a rather grumpy moment with a line of code, but when a squirmy, happy little puppy gets right up in your face, all the grumpy disappears!
Review Fix: How does this game disrupt the game landscape?
Vance: Yonder is very much a ‘comfort game’. It brings a sense of peace and relaxation to players. To that end, combat is something we do not feature in the game. It never quite fit in the world we had created; we felt that it wasn’t required for the player to enjoy their time or their journey in Gemea.
We never planned or set out for this to become a ‘disrupting’ element of the game. There are numerous games over the decades that have already tread this path. Yet, somehow, it has become an element of the game that brings a lot of passionate discussions.
Review Fix: Who will enjoy this game the most?
Vance: The audience of Yonder is much broader than we initially expected. Yonder is an adventure game that focuses on exploration, farming and crafting as some of the core mechanics. These are mechanics that people love now, and mechanics that bring people back to their childhood gaming memories. It’s a game that transports the players to a beautiful and charming world that is open to them to do as they wish. Adventure, farm, craft, explore, collect cats. It really is open and accessible to a broad audience.
Review Fix: What are your goals for the game?
Vance: First and foremost knowing that we have created something that brings joy and happiness to people’s lives is a goal for us. It’s amazing to know that something you created brings happiness to someone, somewhere in the world.
Secondly, we want Yonder to be a project where the development team can walk away from it and truly be proud of the work they did.
Lastly, we also hope that Yonder is successful enough that we can continue to work on it. That we can consider expanding upon the Yonder universe in the future.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Vance: We’re in the last push to launching Yonder. So what is next for us, is in a matter of days we push that ‘Go Live’ button and we release Yonder to the world! There will be a few sleepless nights in there as well. We want to make sure we are up and available in case players run into issues with the game. Past that we also want to do some DLC updates for the game. We have so much more we want players to experience in the world of Yonder.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Vance: We appreciate the support we’ve had for Yonder. The kind words and beautiful messages that we’ve received mean the world to us.
Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles will be available on PC and PS4 from July 18th. Yonder can be purchased digitally from Steam and PlayStation Store and physical copies for PS4 can be purchased from select retailers around the globe. There is also a Special Edition which can only be purchased through Signature Edition Games.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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