With a few notable exceptions, platformers are typically solitary adventures that measure determination against dexterity. The life of a whip-wielding vampire slayer or bounty hunting contortionist is a lonely one. Players often left to fend for themselves as they chart a course through a labyrinthine quest for treasure and triumph through adversity. Yonder, the first game developed by André and Johan Steén of Venturous Games, looks to buck that trend while sporting a gorgeous art style.
A 2D platformer with an emphasis on exploration, puzzle-solving, and companionship, Yonder sets itself apart from the isolationist bent of its contemporaries, eschewing their predilection for thwarting adversaries and hoarding ever more implausible heaps of upgrades and loot.
Players assume the role of two children, their relationship unknown, marooned on an alien planet after an intergalactic shipwreck. They set out to uncover the forgotten secrets of this seemingly abandoned world replete with the ruins of a long-forgotten civilization. Yonder is designed to be played cooperatively, with players working together to traverse the planet’s terrain and gain access to otherwise unreachable locations.
One of the first things that players will notice is Yonder’s painterly graphics. The game’s visuals are reminiscent of a number of comic-book contemporaries, combining the character silhouettes of Katie Rice’s Camp Weedonwantcha with the water color hues and heavy brushstrokes of Fabio Moon and Gabriel Bá’s Daytripper.
An illustrator and animator by trade, Johan and André’s particular approach to level design in Yonder is peculiar yet daring; environments are hand-drawn and animated with few to no reused assets, resplendently clever details tucked into the corner of backgrounds and dynamic scrolling foregrounds. The developers have also committed to telling a story entirely absent of any form of written or spoken dialogue. Relationships and revelations will be inferred entirely through the interactions between the children and the planet’s inhabitants.
With the game still relatively early in its production, not much else is known about it at this point. Whether Yonder will deliver on the promise of its lofty ambitions is up to the developers. Still, with what we’ve seen of the visuals and concepts so far, it’s fair to say this two-man team might have something very special in store for audiences in the months ahead.