One Lonely Outpost – Early Access Preview

One Lonely Outpost - Early Access Preview

One Lonely Outpost was inspired by farming RPGs like Harvest Moon, Story of Seasons and Stardew Valley. The sprites in the game ooze with a similar type of charm. A point of difference is that aside from the characters, animals and collectables, everything else is 3D, making it 2.5D which has become popular in turn-based RPGs of late. This helps set it apart in what becoming a crowded market. The other part is the setting as it is a futuristic farming game where the emphasis is on exploring and building a town from scratch.  

Unlike the traditional farming RPGs where players inherit a rundown farm in a town, the Star Steward is sent to a planet to colonise it by the PDP. Unfortunately, the PDP neglects to mention that the planet is uninhabited and happens to have a toxic atmosphere. To aid him in his goals, the PDP gifts the Star steward some seeds. Helpful. The Star steward has four tools at his disposal to help him. A matter manipulator (a laser hoe), A mining tool (laser pickaxe), A water spray (a watering can) and a blower (a leaf blower). Using these they must explore the planet and make it suitable for humans to live on. They aren’t doing it alone, as they have their trusty robot cat Qwerty at their side.  

At first, only the farmland area is available. The first few days are designed for exploring the area, finding native seeds, discovering minerals and tilling farmland. After a few days, three more areas become available with the PDP giving quests to explore the areas. Upon meeting certain conditions, the PDP will deploy people to help the Star steward colonise the planet. These new colonists will often unlock something, such as water pumps and sprinklers, tool upgrades or mining. Aside from farming, most activities are done in the form of a mini game. So, for example, mining is like minesweeper. Rocks will have numbers next to them to alert players to how close a gas vent is. However, the gas can be outrun but the fact that it does catch fire after a short time means having an idea of where the exit is beforehand is necessary.

A good chunk of the game will be resource gathering to craft items needed for survival. A furnace will turn stones into silicone and if processed more, into glass. This enables a variety of things to be created that would not be possible otherwise. While I have not unlocked animals or fishing yet, I have sprinklers and water pumps. The pumps need to be located near water, while sprinklers need to be near pumps and have electricity to work. It’s best to get these two items quickly otherwise players will find that they spend most of the day just tending to the farm. Once the ice crystals as no longer a viable water source it takes ages to replenish the player’s water tanks. This becomes an issue because as the colony grows, the Star steward’s duty is to feed the colony. They get paid for doing this, but trying to juggle the colony’s needs with farming can be difficult without automation.  

As it is in early access, One Lonely Outpost isn’t without its issues. The first notable issue is that the day/night cycle is the fastest I’ve ever encountered during a farming game. Often, I must decide what I’m going to do that day as just walking to the beach or mining area takes a few hours. Even tending to the farm will take most of the day as it increases in size. It took me a while to get used to it, but that’s nothing compared to the Hunger meter. It’s like a stamina bar except if the player doesn’t eat food once every few days, the Star Steward starts to starve. As the Star steward completes his activities, the bar decreases. Once it gets to two-thirds depleted, the Star steward complains of being tired and the bar turns yellow. Anything done while in a tired state drains the bar twice as fast. Sleeping will help replenish the bar unless the Star steward is hungry, then it’ll only replenish to a certain point. This has left me unsure of when I need to eat, so often I forget until the game reminds me. I’m better at feeding my colony residents than the character I’m controlling. Traditional farming games only have a stamina bar with food or sleep replenishing the bar which is what I’m used to. I think it either needs to be separate bars, or adjusted to make it easier to tell what’s what.  

The other major issue I have encountered has been that once I place an item, I can’t seem to pick it back up again. As new things unlock, I’d like to be able to rearrange my set-up, but as far as I can tell, there’s no way to do that. This makes it hard to automate the farm too. I tilled an area only to find that sprinklers cannot be placed on tilled tiles. Why does it matter? Unlike other games, where a 3 x 3 square is usually the most efficient way to water, One Lonely Outpost has a strange 12-square pattern. This means that players may unintentionally screw themselves over.  

Smaller issues include the cute mascot Qwerty. Qwerty has a propensity to get in the way while farming, it seems like it’ll be fixed over time but it’s still enough of an issue for now. There had been a few times I couldn’t plant seeds or till ground because Qwerty was in the way. I mean, the robot is cute and you can store things in them, but I find most of the time it’s just part of the scenery. This is unfortunate as there is a relationship meter for each resident of the colony, including Qwerty. I haven’t had a chance to really explore the relationship part of the game, but at the same time, I don’t really feel the need to. Hopefully, in the future, it’ll allow for certain unlocks.  

One Lonely Outpost is a solid early-access game. It’s still enjoyable in its current state and most people who enjoy farming RPGs will like this too. It’s doing enough to make itself stand out amongst the myriad of farming games that have cropped up since the success of Stardew Valley, but at the same time, I don’t think it needs to change everything. It’s setting and the fact that players are building a town is more than enough. It doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, just spruce it up a bit. With a bit of tweaking and a lot of polish, it could be a standout in a sea of similar games. 

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