Review: One Lonely Outpost
Publisher: Freedom Games Developer: Aurorian Studios
Available on: PC (Steam, Early Access), coming soon to console!
One Lonely Outpost, an early access game, immerses players in the captivating role of a star steward entrusted with the monumental task of revitalizing the desolate world of Calypso and establishing a thriving new colony. While drawing inspiration from the beloved Stardew Valley, it boldly carves its own path and delivers a unique gaming experience.
At the heart of your solitary journey lies a remarkable companion Qwerty, a cat-like robot whose communication takes the form of various beeps. The interactions and cutscenes featuring Qwerty tug at your heartstrings, enveloping you in a rich and emotionally resonant gameplay experience, at least when he’s not getting in your way as you try to complete various tasks.
From the very start, your mission in One Lonely Outpost is to repair the damaged receiver, an essential device rendered inoperable due to a catastrophic surge of electromagnetic waves or radiation. The unfortunate circumstances surrounding the planet's toxic atmosphere and the absence of visible life forms make this predicament all the more challenging. Strangely, the Pan-Galactic Parliament (PGP), the organization responsible for sending you, proves to be less than helpful. Nonetheless, they provide you with an Omnicac—an invaluable tool that enables you to gather information on encountered items and lifeforms. As you make these discoveries, you are rewarded with Omnistars, a precious currency that gains you respect from incoming colonists as they gradually arrive.
Initially, finding yourself in a situation where supplies cannot be ordered due to the damaged receiver, you must focus your efforts on clearing debris and preparing the land for farming. Admittedly, this phase of the game can feel somewhat sluggish as your stamina bar becomes a critical resource to manage, and opportunities for meaningful actions are limited. However, it is worth noting that the stamina system in One Lonely Outpost is relatively forgiving compared to many other farming simulators. While the PGP provides you with a few basic seeds, you can discover more intriguing and diverse seeds by utilizing the gust ability on the various sand piles scattered throughout the planet.
As you progress, you gain access to the fabricator—a central hub of extensive crafting possibilities. The inclusion of an omniforge opens up the world of smelting, allowing you to process various rocks and ores to obtain valuable resources. This also leads to the introduction of the food processor, which enables you to transform harvested plants into essential ingredients for cooking and further crafting endeavors. One minor inconvenience I encountered was the need to return to the fabricator repeatedly to check for any missing materials when attempting to create a recipe if I’d forgotten them. Implementing a convenient in-menu display of required materials as the game evolves would be a welcome improvement.
As time passes and the fruits of your labor become increasingly evident, fellow pioneers begin to join your budding colony, effectively shattering the solitude that once defined your existence. However, the rewards of companionship also come with the responsibility of supporting your fellow colonists by ensuring they have access to vital resources, including food and materials. While you have the freedom to sell any items you acquire, offering requested goods to your community box grants more currency for doing so.
In the vast world of One Lonely Outpost, the gameplay experience extends beyond tending to crops and nurturing relationships. Engaging activities such as mining, fishing, and bug catching provide additional avenues for exploration and interaction. Each of these pursuits features its own unique mini-game mechanics, adding a layer of variety and challenge. The mining experience, reminiscent of a 3D version of the classic Minesweeper game, tests your strategic prowess. Similarly, the fishing and bug-catching mini-games closely mirror the beloved mechanics found in Stardew Valley, though, like its predecessor, this takes some time and frustration to begin to master. There is even a post-storm challenge that requires you to manipulate circuits to direct power from one location to another, adding an electrifying twist to the gameplay.
While One Lonely Outpost offers an enchanting experience, the inventory management system can sometimes prove frustrating, particularly when it comes to splitting stacks of items. At present, the only method I discovered involves repeatedly halving the stacks until reaching the desired quantity, which can be cumbersome and time-consuming. Introducing a more intuitive and streamlined approach to splitting stacks would be a welcome enhancement.
The game's menu, on the other hand, proves to be a highly resourceful tool, encompassing customary features such as inventory management, maps, and quests. Notably, the inclusion of a dedicated page for your colonists provides a wealth of useful information, including their relationship status with you, birthday reminders, place of residence, brief descriptions of their personalities and roles, and even a checklist for weekly gifting. Furthermore, the Omninac tab is a treasure trove of knowledge, meticulously documenting data on every item and lifeform you encounter throughout your journey. The level of detail captured in this feature is a rarity in gaming, particularly for titles developed by smaller studios, and serves as a testament to the thoughtfulness and dedication of the development team.
As you invest time and effort into the world of One Lonely Outpost, the surroundings begin to undergo a remarkable transformation. Gradually, the once-barren landscapes flourish with vibrant greenery, and lifeforms emerge, breathing newfound vitality into the once-desolate planet. This sense of progression and positive change triggers a cascade of dopamine-inducing moments, delivering a satisfying sense of accomplishment and rewarding players for their dedication.
While One Lonely Outpost undoubtedly has a few things that could benefit from improvement, it undeniably possesses the foundations of an extraordinary game. As an avid player, I eagerly await this promising title's continued development and evolution beyond the early access phase. With its immersive gameplay, heartfelt storytelling, and commitment to detail, One Lonely Outpost has the potential to become a standout gem in the gaming landscape.