Lightyear Frontier – Early Access Impressions

Lightyear Frontier - Early Access Impressions

For the last while, my free time was spent in Helldivers 2 along with my friends, spending hours upon hours fighting for galactic democracy. However, after some truly hellish diving experience, I understood that I needed a change of pace and decided to scour Steam for something a bit more relaxing. Enter Lightyear Frontier, a game that managed to attract over 700k players over a week since its Early Access launch.

The most interesting thing is that Lightyear Frontier is a space farmer simulator. Do you remember that one episode of “Love, Death and Robots” about farmers utilizing mechas? That’s what you will find in the game, minus giant bugs and any kind of aggression. It is a very quiet farm that exists in extremely peaceful times. There are no survival features, complex crafting systems, aggressive aliens or anything of the sort, but the game sucks you in anyway.

Vibe-wise, the game made me fondly remember Subnautica. In Lightyear Frontier, you explore a new planet with the only talking companion being the central module of your mecha. You can go at it solo or join up with others in the co-op mode. Both versions might seem vaguely survival-like in the beginning, however, the game quickly clears up that it’s going to be a farming simulator without any particularly stressful mechanics or triggers.

No hunger or thirst meters, no aliens to steal your crops and attack your farm, nothing that will make you tense up during the gameplay process. Except for water – when you walk into water, you will get washed back ashore. However, you also lose nothing but a few seconds of your time. By the end of mastering the content, even water will become harmless.

This is exactly what captivated me with the game so much. I’m tired of working 2 jobs, the official one, and the “gaming” one. I need to bring democracy to Helldivers 2, climb the ranks of League of Legends along with friends, there is a new season in PoE, Mythic+ keys and raids in WoW, more content in Last Epoch…

Lightyear Frontier is a crisp and enjoyable sci-fi farming game with a good sense of progression that will keep you hooked for hours on end. Moreover, the overall progression doesn’t drive you forward, you do not have to rush into it immediately, feeling like you are falling behind. There is also a small plot, but it is far from the main thing in the game, being only a pleasant addition to everything else.

The core of the gameplay revolves around restoring the planet. You are a BRAVE HELLD– sorry, wrong game. You are an ordinary astronaut, sent to explore a new planet. Your only companion is the AI of the robo-mech that will help you out with advice as you take your first steps.

You will get a chance to restore several regions of the planet, each featuring new resources and animals after the process is complete. There are not that many regions in the game yet, but each has its own atmosphere and visuals. Additionally, each region features its own resources: copper and blue crystals, iron and yellow crystals, specific plants and animals. There are also ancient ruins to find, however, the overall number is around 4 to 6 per region. Treasures such as starfish, pearls and others are not easy to find, but you will receive new unusual decorations for doing just that.

Lightyear Frontier Screen_1

The game starts upon finding your Mech, a kind of walking tractor with hands, and get access to the tools. Altogether, there are 5 to choose from:

  • Speke Saw designed for cutting down trees and splitting stones, crystals and ore;
  • Sprout Cannon used to plant trees;
  • Vacuum Harvester needed to suck out water or pull out poisonous plants;
  • Irrigation Hose for watering plants and for cleaning out poisonous mucus;
  • And last but not least is the Seed Shooter that will help you put small plants into plowed ground.

It might seem strange to be doing mecha-farming, but it makes sense when you are the one behind the wheel. You can quickly change the instruments on the robot’s arms to complete various tasks, jump from great heights without worrying about the fall damage, and use the entire set of tools the game gave you.

When it comes to your base, you will create your own home. With proper decorations, the overall level of comfort will be increased as well. Between that and the type of your home, you will receive various bonuses such as accelerated resource extraction. While the bonuses are nice to have, the most important thing is that animals return to each restored location.

You will have to find the appropriate food for each region, which is also created by you, and each brood of animals will provide you with the restoration of resources in the relevant location. There aren’t many animal species yet, but I’m hopeful that we’ll see more.

Your farm starts from a humble tent pitched by a fire, then a small bed for seeds, and only then the first machine for creating oil. And then… then… then! And then I ended up with a farm filled with a dozen different machines, grinders and dryers, a huge vegetable garden, and much more. Well, and with my personal home with certain decorations for friends. I’ll be honest, I did not spend much time creating a cozy base.

Lightyear Frontier Screen_2

The game presents a simple but effective set of tools to create your base, in which you can arrange everything exactly in the way you want to. You can build a huge barn and hide all your machines there, you can build several bases – one as your personal residential space and others as resource workshops.

The freedom of construction is impressive, you can put in a lot of decorations, lighting, and arrange small objects on the larger ones. A table with a tea set and a chess board is easy, a grill and a hammock nearby are possible, and haystacks next to your vegetable gardens are practically a must. Without having to spend much time, you can create an impressive and beautiful base that will also serve as a convenient hub for the production of anything and everything. I had seen some truly impressive builds, in which people played around with dozens of decorations to create incredibly comfortable-looking bases. It all depends on your personality, taste and the amount of time you are willing to spend.

I cannot say that the game has a strong and long-lasting story. It is there, providing you with a small cutscene after each restored location. Upon building up all of them, you will be able to learn some small but interesting facts, and also get a new ability that allows you to glide on water for a short period of time. This newfound skill will let you access the final location and explore it, however, the Early Access version of the game doesn’t give it much content to tackle.

In truth, I hope that the full version of the game will see the story developed into something more. So far, the plot is there simply to intrigue you somewhat.

Let’s talk about some drawbacks. The mecha is quite pleasant to operate, it doesn’t feel like a cardboard cutout and has its own inertia, letting players feel the weight of its mechanics and movement. But it also can trip on nothing and easily fall, roll over and get stuck somewhere. Yes, leaving the cockpit allows you to turn it over and return to a standing state, but you will have to do that quite often. When you are dabbling in the co-op, it can be quite funny to watch your friends trip and grapple on the ground. At least, for the first few hours, it becomes old fast.

Small inventory and carrying capacity also does not allow for nice development in the beginning. Yes, you can upgrade your mech to increase it, but it won’t help you much. The relaxed game mode makes these disadvantages less of a problem, and yet… I hope the developers spend some time and re-evaluate early game.

Altogether, the Lightyear Frontier provided me with many hours of fun. Having sat down to water my crops at around 8 am, I only noticed the passage of time when the clock was showing almost 5 pm, and I totally forgot about lunch. The visuals of the game are quiet, calm music accompanies the player in this world. The game is extremely relaxed, and you will find yourself watching the sunset while sitting in your mecha on a mountain above your base.

Lightyear Frontier does not force you into memorizing resource spawn locations or pathing on how to find them, it doesn’t force you to grind for the sake of grinding, but it does offer freedom and enjoyment. The sci-fi farming vacation that I needed so much. If you are looking for a way to take a break from gaming activities that have become too stressful or too much like a must-do-routine, take a look at this game, slow down and savor it.

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