ReviewsReview: Sumatra: Fate of Yandi

Review: Sumatra: Fate of Yandi

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In high-pressure industries, the word safety is deemed an ugly phrase. Not by the PR people, or those on the front line. No, the shareholders and the people in charge of productivity only care about one thing, and that’s money. Cash and greed are the underlying tones of the beautifully worked story in Sumatra: Fate of Yandi. An old-school pixelated title that proves that gaming has moved on from its high-end graphical obsession.

Developed by Cloak and Dagger Games and published by Ratalaika Games, this is a point and click adventure title with a puzzle twist. Set in the heart of the Sumatran jungle, you are Yandi a young and dedicated man who loves his wife Adiratna and his job for a logging company. Young love isn’t always plain sailing, and this couple have their fair share of fights. But on the day of the accident, these words will continue to haunt him.

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi is surprisingly deep.

What starts as a simple tale of survival soon turns into a deep story. It takes many twists and turns, and you meet some interesting characters on your journey. A classic take on the point and click genre, Sumatra: Fate of Yandi screams of Monkey Island influence. You must explore each scene you wander into, observing objects and interacting with items. Your inventory must be combined and used at specific times so you can proceed. Characters that you interact with will give you cryptic clues to what must be done next, but this doesn’t make the gameplay any easier. It’s a fantastic experience that explores; the sadness and loneliness of survival, the joy of helping others, and the beauty of the world that is all around us.

What’s this shack doing in the middle of nowhere?

Your adventure starts on a mountainside, your boss cares not for safety, he only wishes for trees to be felled no matter the cost. As you and your best friend get to work, a tremendous landslide occurs sucking you into its path. You are swept miles downriver, where you awaken on a riverbank. Was this just an accident, or could it have been avoided? These are questions that will need to be answered if you survive, but more pressing concerns lie before you! Where are you? What will become of Adiratna? How will you survive? This is the beginning of Yandi’s story, and how it is written is down to you.

A small world, but it feels big and immersive.

The gameplay explores but a small section of the Sumatran jungle. Where different elements can be investigated to gather items and overcome the many challenges you face. You will discover; caves, a village, waterfalls, stomach-churning flowers and more. You will also encounter many animals; monkeys, elephants, tapir, bears and tigers. Each of these forms a key part of the plot and doesn’t simply act as a window dressing.

Every section flows into another with an area of “dead” space between. This empty zone, gives the environment a feeling of vastness and helps to increase the immersive nature of this title. It also ensures that you can get lost easily on each of your explorations, which adds a sense of realism to the plot. I enjoyed the movement between locations and each part loaded quickly, flowing smoothly from one to the other. The only downside was Yandi was incapable of mapping his route, which seemed odd. I had to draw out my adventures on pen and paper, which emphasised the old-school approach and brought back memories of my Amiga gaming days.

Bears are scary enough, but these look horrific.

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi is old-school personified.

Everything about this game is as retro as it comes. The control system, audio, text font, pixelation and animation. It’s brilliant, but it takes some time to adjust. Once you familiarise yourself with the brash colours, harsh lines and limited tones, you’ll lose yourself in the glorious world. It will not win a beauty award, but it oozes charm. The few cutscenes you experience are hilariously bad, but they are excellent because of it. My favourite had to be the cave bears (see the above image). It made me chuckle a lot more than it should of. The comedy soon dissipates when memories of the life he left behind come to the fore. This is shown by a change of light and colour between the present day and the past. These flashbacks were an excellent concept and helped to convey the emotional impact the journey had on Yandi.

The audio was equally touching. 30 mellow and melancholy songs emphasise the plight that our hero faces. The minor tone adds sadness and fear to each scene. Yet, this is beautifully halted with uplifting melodies when a fleeting moment of success is enjoyed. The music is accompanied by realistic sound effects from the jungle; tweeting birds, the whoops of monkeys, or the growl of predatory cats all adds realism and transports you to this beautiful yet dangerous setting.

Obviously a PC port.

Sumatra: Fate of Yandi was first released on PC, and this is obvious because of its challenging control system. This would work perfectly with mouse and keyboard, but the controller is slow and cumbersome. The inventory requires the cursor to hover at the top of the screen. This wouldn’t be bad apart from when you try to exit to the North. You interact with your inventory every time in error, and it soon becomes tiresome. If you then add in the need to jump in and out of your inventory repeatedly, it soon becomes an arduous task. Not that it’s broken, as it’s not. It simply isn’t as clean and user friendly as it should be.

Finding Kevin was a bit of good luck.

This is a game that won’t take up a lot of your time. If you have a logical mind and remember the map layout, you’ll complete this in 5 hours. Once you’ve run through it, there will be little desire to want to return, other than to grab the achievements that you missed. It certainly lacks replay value, but makes up for this with a fabulous storyline and an excellent cast. At £5.99 it proves a good investment and great value for money even with the lack of desire to return.

Is Sumatra: Fate of Yandi worth it?

If you are all about high-end graphics, then this won’t be for you. If, like me, you love a great storyline filled with emotional subplots, then you’ll love it. It’s a well-delivered tale of; loss, sorrow, survival, friendship and love. Cloak and Dagger Games have created an amazing world to explore, and I suggest you buy your copy here! Will Yandi find out the truth? Can he escape the jungle and find his love? Begin your adventure and find the answer to these questions.

SUMMARY

A wonderful point and click adventure title that will remind you of the great Monkey Island series. A fantastic audio transports you to the dangerous jungle setting, and some great characters add warmth and humour to an otherwise cold and sad situation. Solve problems, explore the jungle and try to make it home to your love. A pixelated game that will not tick the boxes for high-end graphics fans, but if you love a great story and retro gaming, then this is the game for you.

+ A fantastic story.
+ An excellent blend of characters.
+ Superb audio.
+ Interesting and challenging problems to overcome.
- The controls are poor on a console.
- Limited replay value.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I've now found a new home to write my reviews, and get my opinion out to the masses. Still the lead admin for Xboxseriesfans on Facebook and Instagram. I love the gaming world, and writing about it. I can be contacted at [email protected] for gaming reviews.

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