Thanks to Plug In Digital for the review code
Title: Yono and the Celestial Elephants
System: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Release Date: 10/12/2017
In a world that worships Elephants as mystical beasts meant to protect the world and ensure peace and happiness, a new divine Elephant, Yono is sent from the heavens to continue the family tradition of watching over the world.
Being a 3D Adventure game, presentation is everything and in Yono’s case it benefits from a really adorable art style, with high quality cell-shading and cute character models that fit this world perfectly. The backgrounds work fine, and overall the game looks great on both handheld and docked modes, with the only complaint regarding the visuals being that the save menu is a bit too basic and clunky for my tastes.
Unfortunately, the sound quality isn’t so good, with average music tracks that play throughout the multiple areas you’ll explore, and sound effects that sound really, really compressed, which is really jarring compared to the non-compressed nature of the background music, with enemy noises sounding as if they went through the same sort of terrible compression that Mega Man 64 dealt with. Apparently this seems to be an issue on both versions of the game, but nevertheless the sound effects come off as really strange due to this fuzzy compression, and they are very noticeable when you attack enemies or store water with your trunk.
After playing through many games like Oceanhorn and Ittle Dew 2 that replicate the Zelda formula perfectly well and can stand among games of that franchise when it comes to quality, Yono goes for a more casual approach, with the entire game clearly designed to be meant for beginner players. While focusing a game for a casual audience can be a catastrophic mistake if it’s done in a way that frustrates experienced players and makes them bored to death, I’m happy to report that Yono manages to be a relaxing game for both crowds, and it still has some tough moments, albeit rare ones, as losing all your life points will kick you back to the minecart hub, which is a quick fast-travel to the multiple towns and dungeons you’ll encounter on your journey and will thus take a while for you to return to where you died if you choose not to abuse the save feature. (since you can manual save at anytime and there’s also frequent autosaves, too)
Thus, taking it slow and completing puzzles in dungeons while doing favors for NPCs to get enough health crystals to extend your Life Point gauge is the key to success in Yono, and because of this it means the game moves at an average, yet tolerable pace. Most of the game revolves around puzzle-solving, which isn’t so bad considering how there’s still a good chunk of optional items to find and sidequests to encounter, along with some humorous dialogue if you talk to certain people multiple times in a row. The game can be beaten in a short amount of time if you ignore everything and find your way to the end of the game, but taking your time and getting 100% will take a good while longer, especially if you go in bursts.
In conclusion, Yono is a game that’s pretty basic and isn’t meant to be as in-depth or engaging like Ittle Dew 2 and other Zelda clones. Rather, it manages to put a lot of effort on a cute, charming story and manages to be a relaxing experience that all ages can enjoy, especially if you’re a fan of doing optional things. This is a great game I can recommend for players who enjoy the laid-back nature of franchises such as Kirby, and it manages to be relaxing and easy without being insulting or boring to experienced players.
That being said, those who were hoping for a super challenging, very lengthy adventure like the aforementioned Zelda clones I mentioned earlier will be a bit disappointed, since this adventure is more or less a title that only needs to be played to 100% once before you’ve done everything you would want to with it, and it’s ultimately meant to be a beginner’s adventure game. Still, it’s a really solid one that succeeds in what it accomplishes while managing to be a relaxing game for the rest of us. So I give Yono and the Celestial Elephants a 7 out of 10, and strongly recommend it to those who want a relaxing Zelda-like adventure.