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Lightyear Frontier Preview: A new kind of farming sim that's worth your attention

Lightyear Frontier Preview: A new kind of farming sim that's worth your attention

New frontiers

I love nothing more than settling down on a cold autumn evening to play a cosy farming sim. I have logged more hours in Stardew Valley than is healthy, formed a deep connection with Slime Rancher, and recently lost myself to the charms of Fae Farm.

The farming genre is, however, a deeply crowded market these days - so much so that it can be hard to separate the good from the bad. Which games are uninspired Harvest Moon clones, and which genuinely have something new to bring to table? Lightyear Frontier, I'm delighted to say, falls into the latter camp.

Lightyear Frontier sells itself as "a peaceful open-world farming adventure on a planet at the far edge of the galaxy." You create an intergalactic outpost on a serene planet and learn to become self sustainable. The dream, I think we can all agree.

The general loop is largely familiar, in that you explore various biomes for resources, grow crops, and then sell those crops to buy upgrades that lead to better resources and more varied crops. It's that pleasingly relaxing kind of gameplay that allows you to crawl under a blanket at the end of a long day with a cup of green tea and, to an extent, switch your brain off and give in to its chill rhythm.

Where Lightyear Frontier sets itself apart from your Stardew Valleys and Rune Factories is that the ultimate goal is to stop farming. I don't mean that you're constantly working towards a point where you can stop playing the game, rather as you build and develop your farm it eventually sustains itself while you focus on new - and hopefully bigger - ways of making money.

Another fun aspect of Lightyear Frontier is that it manages to blend FPS gameplay with farming. It's not every day you get to fire what looks like a weapon to create life, and it's a fun twist that further sets this adventure apart from the pack.

To plant seeds or water crops, you aim down your sights and fire away. It's fun, and pleasingly refreshing in a way I didn't really expect. Exactly how long this approach remains a novelty remains to be seen, but I really do dig the idea of a game that takes the aesthetic of an FPS - traditionally a violent genre - and marries it with the gentler farming sim. I guess Slime Rancher did this to an extent, but it certainly feels more overt here.

Any farming game lives and dies on just how long it can sustain its core gameplay loop without you getting bored or running out of new things to discover. On the face of it, it looks like Lightyear Frontier has plenty to see and do. The multiplayer should also help extend the game's life somewhat. Overall, if it can keep things interesting over multiple seasons then we could be looking at yet another farming game I'm prepared to lose myself too. I can't wait.

Featured Image Credit: Frame Beak

Topics: Indie Games