Lightyear Frontier

Lightyear Frontier (Early Access)

Frame Break is finally ready to let you build your own little corner of the universe.

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It wasn't exactly Stardew Valley that kick-started what we all now call the "farming sim" genre, but let's agree that there's now far more energy behind this relatively unique structure than there used to be. Tending to a country estate, planting crops and slowly expanding your little sheltered corner of the world ever so slightly, while exploring your immediate surroundings without feeling particularly threatened in the process, has become a genre staple, and rightly so.

Lightyear Frontier is a slightly different spin on this now familiar formula, but in many ways it's also "just" a faming sim. This means that you already know if the game is for you, and it's also easy to summarise my verdict on the game's entertainment value without actually having to dive into the details; if you like farming sims, Lightyear Frontier holds up in many ways, and if not? Well, then you're unlikely to find anything here that will change your mind.

Of course, it's not enough on its own, so let's just zoom in on what developer Frame Break is making available for Early Access next week after years of development. Earth is finished, resources are running out and in response, some are turning to the Lightyear Frontier programme, which sends adventurous souls into deep space in search of greener pastures. You are one of these travellers, landing on a lush, vibrant and peaceful planet all on your own, and with the help of a mech (previously developed for combat but redesigned to act as a perfect farming tool) you must build your own isolated country home far from conflict, civilisation and noise. It's just you here on the edge of our galaxy - and up to three friends if you want to play co-op.

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Lightyear Frontier

When I say peaceful, I really mean it, because Lightyear Frontier has no combat system, and it's only occasionally that there's any danger at all. In fact, there are few mechanics that threaten to slow your progress at all, and that's kind of the whole point. You get in your mech, explore this mildly beautiful planet with a breathtaking canopy of sky above you, and take home resources that are used to both maintain your farm and expand your estate. That's as far as it goes - so far.

Your mech is fantastically responsive to control, and by holding down the L1 button (I've been playing on Steam Deck where the game runs at a respectable 30fps with most details on either medium or low) you can attach different kinds of tools to the suit's arms, which then allow you to perform specific tasks. There's a seed gun that sows seeds in fertilised soil, a rifle that waters the same crops and specific tools for breaking rocks or collecting wood. It's all relatively standardised but undoubtedly satisfying, and neither moving around in your mech to explore nor collecting resources is ever too dull, too boring or downright unappealing. Even in Early Access, Lightyear Frontier is solidly optimised and is free of the teething problems we usually find in these kinds of releases.

At the start you're greeted with a number of key objectives, such as building a tent to sleep in, collecting the debris that landed around with your mech and finally planting seeds and starting your little country home, but let's just say that the game in its current form doesn't prioritise a linear framework for your experience. It's primarily about mastering the various tools, setting up a production pipeline and expanding your base. You'll be guided through planning and construction, but you shouldn't come to Lightyear Frontier hoping to tell a coherent story or work towards a unified goal. The goal is the journey. Sure, there's a mystery of exploring what looks like the wreckage of an extinct civilisation, but that's not the focus as such.

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Lightyear Frontier

It's all about enjoying yourself, finding your own way, and occasionally stopping to appreciate the view, enjoying the calm and somewhat disassociated music as you go. Building is as easy as it's ever been, and slowly but surely you'll construct a pretty solid pipeline, much like in Stardew Valley, planting, harvesting, storing, refining and using resources to build new buildings and give your mech some love too.

Is it all a bit pointless? Perhaps, that would certainly be a potential criticism of the game at the time of writing, and given that there are no survival mechanics whatsoever (you don't need food or water yourself), experiencing this alien world with friends might help to give the game a bit of a spark. However, you could also turn it around and say that Lightyear Frontier is truly one of the most relaxing games I've played in years. Does the fact that there's nothing to push you beyond just getting your hands on enough resources to craft the next thing you need affect your motivation? Maybe, but for now, this is both beautiful to look at, enjoyable to listen to and really well put together. I'll be following the game through Early Access, and will also enjoy expanding my little personal corner here and there.

08 Gamereactor UK
8 / 10
Quite beautiful to look at. Extremely relaxing. Well put together throughout. Solid mechanics.
Perhaps a bit aimless. Will undoubtedly lack some depth for some. A bit lacklustre music.
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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