There are more Farming RPGs coming out every year, and One Lonely Outpost aims to innovate on the standard formula by adding some new mechanics and defying the genre's conventions. Read on to see if it's up to the task!
One Lonely Outpost sends you to an apparently barren planet in the hopes of starting a colony. Although you take the trip by yourself, you do have some token support from the company that sent you. You'll soon find that you're not quite as alone as you'd think.
A common theme in Farming RPGs is the feeling that you're working in a dilapidated old farm or, more rarely, the untamed wilderness. One Lonely Outpost firmly lands in the latter category. There is no town that you can travel to and meet the neighbors. There is nothing like a mine or dungeon to explore after you've landed (although that changes later). There is only you, your little robot buddy Qwerty, your ship, and a lot of empty land.
In most Farming RPGS, you typically move to a village and integrate into a community. In One Lonely Outpost, the villagers come to you and the community is something you help create from the very beginning.
Your "house" isn't a house insomuch as it is the spaceship equivalent of a motorhome; it looks no different than a kitschy 1970s camper van with a couple of rocket engines strapped onto it. The quarters are tight and cramped, but it will do for now.
Unlike some other games in the genre, you also have a somewhat clearer picture of what you need to do. You'll occasionally receive specific orders from the company telling you to plant some crops or meet some other conditions. This guidance is certainly helpful in the early days of your adventure -- there's not much to do otherwise.
Meeting the Colonists
The first couple of weeks are filled with farming, mining on the surface, and light exploration. Eventually, you'll receive a welcome message -- your first colonist wants to come to the planet. In most Farming RPGS, you typically move to a village and integrate into a community. In this game, the villagers come to you and the community is something you help create from the very beginning.
The colonists are largely what you would expect from this type of game. You can build friendships with all of them and eventually enter into romantic relationships with a small selection of them, although I haven't gotten quite that far into the game myself. Most of the early colonists add a useful function to the colony such as setting up a shop or opening up the mines. Much like yourself, their "homes" are custom-built ships that simply land on the surface and expand into a proper building over time.
Freedom Games (and its predecessor in this project, Aurorian Studios) could have kept to the genre's conventions and had the player land at an existing colony. Instead, they decided to do something a little different than what you'd expect -- and the experience is better for it. Meeting the requirements for new colonists to come to the planet is a fun challenge, and it's always cool to see what new features they're bringing to the table.
Uncovering the Planet's Mysteries
The additions of new colonists are not the only way your new home changes over time. Very early on, you'll discover alien ruins secreted away on the planet.
What started off as a pretty bleak mission grows increasingly hopeful once you've interacted with the alien ruins a few times. Ancient machinery breathes life back into the planet, starting by making the atmosphere more breathable and thawing out some of the ice. These changes, combined with the gradual addition of colonists and the acquisition of new tools for your farm, gives the impression of a world that is waking up from a deep slumber
The alien ruins aren't the only thing to discover. One Lonely Outpost's version of a mine goes a step beyond the standard with the addition of a hazard system similar to Minesweeper. Mine the wrong rock and the open area will be quickly flooded with explosive gas. You'll have to blow it away with your Gust Tool; fail to do so, and your Mining Laser can ignite a deadly spark that will force you to immediately evacuate the mines.
Granted, I've only experienced a small slice of the story. One Lonely Outpost is an Early Access game, and only the first act of the story is really available. Still, it gives a solid idea of what the developers have planned for the future, and I'm hopeful -- although I'm not without reservations.
One Lonely Outpost Preview - Final Thoughts
I spent around 28 hours playing One Lonely Outpost. I had fun playing the game and I enjoyed my time with it, but it's far from perfect. There are little issues here and there.
The interface, for example, is still pretty rough at times. Some windows will close when you press the Escape key and others won't. The game doesn't always properly pause when you're in the menu. Some quality-of-life features aren't there quite yet, too; for example, your current objectives can take up a large chunk of the screen and there's no way to stop tracking any quests whatsoever. I've also found myself annoyed by the inability to plant crops behind certain machinery, necessitating very careful design when you're setting up your farm.
One of my bigger bugbears is that One Lonely Outpost simply feels slow at times. I'm not just talking in terms of story progress, mind; your character can only walk at the pace of a leisurely stroll. The absence of a proper running or jogging function baffles me and it unnecessarily slows down the overall pace of the experience.
While these are problems, they're not the end of the world; these are minor nitpicks at best. As always, though, the quality and success of One Lonely Outpost is going to depend on how quickly Freedom Games delivers new content to players and the quality of that content.
One Lonely Outpost is worth your time if you have a hankering for trying out a new Farming RPG with some unique spins on the genre -- as long as you don't mind a few rough edges. If you're looking for a deep experience that will last you for a few weeks, though, it's probably best to wait until it has some more content added in future updates.
One Lonely Outpost was previewed on PC via Steam using a copy provided by the publisher over the course of 28 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of this preview.