Around a week ago I treated myself to an early Christmas present by purchasing a Switch. Yono and the Celestial Elephants has the distinct honour of being the first game I beat on Nintendo’s console/handheld hybrid. It’s an adorable isometric adventure created by Swedish developer Neckbolt Games. The title plays a lot like classic Zelda, which is fine by me. Give me puzzle filled dungeons over destructible weaponry any day! Man, what were you thinking Breath of the Wild? Just when I was celebrating Fire Emblem’s decision to axe armaments with limited durability, you had to go and adopt that bothersome mechanic.
Yono and the Celestial Elephants stars a pachyderm infant who has descended down from the heavens with the aim of bringing peace to a fantasy world. Over the course of his five-hour adventure, Yono treks across the land quelling tensions that have brought the human, robot and undead kingdoms to the brink of war. Joining him on the journey are a mischievous redhead and an accident-prone monk. Just like in Zelda, the environments are peppered with pottery that can be smashed to acquire health and cash. Funds can be spent on skins to decorate Yono, such as the hilariously named Elephantom of the Opera.
Several of the obstacles impeding Yono’s progress come in the form of block sliding puzzles. Thankfully the brainteasers aren’t difficult so even a complete “Dumbo” can suss them out without too much trouble. Other challenges require that Yono use his trunk, rather than his head, in order to advance. He can for example unlock doors by blowing on a pinwheel or extinguish flames by dousing the fire with water. Later on Yono can strike distant targets by spewing peanuts out of his nose. In some areas he is required to melt ice via the consumption of chilli, which transforms his proboscis into a makeshift flamethrower.
My rating for Yono and the Celestial Elephants is three and a half stars. I think the game will appeal most to younger gamers due to its cute graphics, wholesome storyline and gentle difficulty curve. Legend of Zelda veterans may however find that the level design and combat is too simplistic for their tastes. For the most part enemies are ineffective and just stand there, as Yono stampedes them into oblivion. The bosses are thankfully more stimulating to fight against. Vanquishing the guardians will require that you memorize attack patterns and deduce the best method for breaching their defences.
Once the main campaign has been cleared there isn’t much incentive to revisit Yono. Completionists can tackle a few optional fetch quests and hunt down all the hidden life-bar boosting containers, but that’s about it. Depending on your budget you’ll have to decide if twelve quid for five hours of entertainment is worth it. Be aware that a PC version of Yono exists, so it may be possible to pick up that port on a discount during one of Steam’s sales. I personally am okay with purchasing the Switch release. My time with Yono was both fun and relaxing. I think the cost/length ratio of a title is irrelephant, as long as it makes you happy.