Yono And The Celestial Elephants
Publisher: Plug In Digital
Release Date: 12 October 2017
Price: $14.99 / £12.99
Reviewed by Gary Gray
Straight away Yono and the Celestial Elephants is a full bag of charm, from the cute main character to the sheer beauty of its graphical style, something about the game just pulls you in straight in.
Set in a world filled with diverse inhabitants including humans, robots and the undead, Yono gets sent from the heavens like the other celestial elephants before him. His goal is to basically save the different groups and sort out their problems. Yono is pretty clueless on what he has to do, but gets reminded about what the great elephants before him have done. An interesting twist on a story, a story that’s actually skimming on adult themes and slightly political (within its own worlds and characters of course).
Yono is fairly simple in terms of controls and whatever you learn at the start of the game is what you will have at the end. There’s no upgrades and no inventory. This is actually something that I enjoyed, as sometimes games can rely too heavily on trying to find collectables rather than concentrating on interesting puzzle design.
The majority of the gameplay in Yono is indeed built around puzzles. Some are quite simple push block motifs, but later they evolve to be a bit more challenging, creating times where you’ll have to step back and really think about what the next step is. As mentioned earlier, there's no skill upgrades so it's entirely down to you and your brain if you want to progress.
Combat is also present in Yono albeit in very simple form. As a brave little elephant, you have the ability to use your trunk to blow enemies back as well as the ability to charge. A target selector is also present, however it doesn’t really lock on as well as it should, and charging at the enemy can be disastrous if you haven’t given yourself room for a run up. You risk leaving yourself open, giving the enemy perfect opportunities to hit you. Whilst it is the area of the game that needs the most work, combat doesn’t crop up very often so it won’t leave you frustrated.
Yono is best digested when you can relax and stroll through casually and smell the flowers. There's little details like the wildlife and dialogue that are both charming and diverse, and you’ll never feel the pressure and frustrations of being pushed forwards before you're ready.
There's a rather cool customisation aspect that lets you buy new skins for your elephant, some of which are nods to other franchises you may recognise. You can also upgrade your health by collecting rare items and then taking them to a shop that will convert them into an extra life slot. As a result, you are rewarded for going out of your way to collect everything, encouraging you to explore every nook and cranny of the levels.
All-in-all Yono is a fantastic game that really shouldn’t be missed if you’re a fan of Zelda-like puzzles. With its beautiful graphics, simple mechanics and all out charm, Yono can be played by any member of the family. I’m hoping we'll be seeing more of the adorable little elephant in the future.
Pros & Cons
+ Cute design
+ Interesting story
+ Clever puzzles
- Lacklustre combat
- Unrewarding side-quests