Amidst a million games coming out trying to be the next Stardew Valley, a game called One Lonely Outpost takes a mildly unique angle of a space-colony builder where you’re stranded on an alien planet and have to rebuild.
You’d expect a game like this to be one where you’re constantly trying to make progress, and if progress is merely getting closer to the end with no thrills, the game certainly delivers.
One Lonely Outpost reminds me of Starbound because it has some decent pixel art and music on top of a fantastic concept with just a splash of compelling story beats, yet it also carries many of the same flaws that brought that game down.
The big “Follow us!” tab on the title screen says a lot about the general quality and polish standards set for this entire experience.
The game has about a million different selling points, an expansive world to explore, characters you can interact with and try to date, decoration, farming, mining, fishing, and raising robot animals. Plus, even more features are planned later in this early access, but doing many things simultaneously has never been a great idea for small indie devs.
The Steam page promises a mysterious and solitary adventure on an unforgiving alien planet and a cozy farming simulator with many friends. I came into this game with positive expectations, and let’s say it’s no Stardew Valley. IGC’s One Lonely Outpost review conducted on PC is a study of emptiness.
No Rock to Stand On
The visuals of One Lonely Outpost are likely the most striking aspect of it, going for a style similar to Octopath Traveler, where it blends 2D sprites in a 3D environment with extra lighting.
Unlike the other games coming out looking similar, this one puts its decent pixel art characters on top of a low-poly background with low-res textures with no rigid standard for pixel consistency.
The issue with this style is it doesn’t commit as hard to it as Octopath Traveler does. In that game, the 3D models are given detailed sprite work and align very well with the character sprites and impeccable lighting. In this game, it feels like the models and textures are plucked straight out of a 3DS game that’s been upscaled, and the lighting isn’t great.
Other parts of the visuals take on even more strange and out-of-place styles. The character portraits during dialogue (that your player character doesn’t get, despite the fact they can’t be customized) are all drawn in an anime-art style, but with this weird compression added. It’s not pixel art; they’re just low-resolution, I think.
Either way, it’s not like games like Persona 5 that can mesh 3D and 2D very well by having both commit to a similar style.
Overall, pretty much every graphical detail in this game, from things like the title screen and menus to the characters and the world around you, all look like parts of separate projects, leading to a lack of cohesion. Sometimes less is more, and one art style is enough. I have no doubts this game would look 10x better if they went for a hand-drawn or purely pixel-art style.
A Content Desert
The primary gameplay loop of One Lonely Outpost is walking around, mining rocks, blowing away sand, and maybe mining some ores if you feel like it; that’s about it.
You only get new content to experience whenever the game says so, which is every few days when you get a message from your corporate overlords saying you can do something now.
This is 90% of the game whenever you’re not doing something you just got assigned to, the other 10% being decorating your base occasionally, smelting things incredibly slowly, or exploring one of 9 areas in this game.
These areas mostly add different ores and newer-looking environments, but they’re all extraordinarily empty and have nothing of interest.
The stamina meter gets annoying and draining when you walk anywhere, nothing exciting is ever going on unless you’re doing a mission, and overall there’s nothing you can ever be working towards until the game tells you to.
The farming doesn’t add much, and any other gameplay mechanic is barely notable. It’s a hollow experience through and through.
Overall this game is just super boring. When I envision rebuilding society on an alien planet, I picture building houses and structures and constantly working towards something, not sleeping every day and hoping corporate sends me a new checklist.
No joke, I streamed this game in a voice chat with a friend because I was bored, and he actually fell asleep watching me play.
The audio in this game isn’t particularly interesting or notable. Everything functions perfectly fine, and the things you’d expect to have sound effects do have them; everything is perfectly standard and as you’d expect.
The music itself goes for a synthy, futuristic vibe, but with some added instruments, primarily strings, and some added percussion and piano. It’s pleasant and decent, if a bit uninteresting.
The music itself is charming and might score the game well if it’s going for what I think it is. It contributes to my confusion about the game’s vibe since the music feels somewhat uplifting rather than desolate or lonely, but it’s pretty good for what it is.
My only complaint is the overworld tracks; it gets repetitive quickly when you’re out doing most tasks. A few more tracks here would help, but it’s not too bad.
Most of the story or lore in One Lonely Outpost is told through a few dialogue boxes from your character and emails you get from the Pan-Galactic Parliament Colony Outreach Committee, which is a super long name. You’re a human sent by this committee to colonize a new desert planet, building a life for yourself and hope for others.
You bring yourself and your robot cat companion, Qwerty, to this planet and have to survive on it with limited resources and the occasional natural disaster or gift from the PGPCOC.
Given that your ship broke on the way here (because of course it did), you’ve had no other options and must go exploring or die. (Even though the game won’t let you die, they didn’t want to make a death animation, I guess.)
The other characters you’d find along the way joining you on your outpost don’t add too much to the overall narrative.
They’re mostly just new things to give you access to other new things, and they all start with a similar blank slate to your own. They’re characterized precisely by how you’d expect by how they look. Qwerty is always the best one.
Some exciting events transpire along the way, and I will give some minor spoilers here, but Qwerty gets broken within the first few hours, then repaired just a few days after. The story never commits too hard to twists and turns and isn’t brave enough to make you feel lonely.
It’s different from other farming simulators and games of this nature, and I appreciate it for that, but as a story, it’s pretty by the books.
All Interfaces A-Go
The User Interface and general design of most HUD elements in One Lonely Outpost are somehow both well-designed and completely unfitting.
I think my main issue is the use of a standard high-res text font on top of pixel art, as well as most of the time, the UI doesn’t align with any rigid pixel grid and looks out of place visually. It’s also got many bugs that I hope get ironed out but make it somewhat challenging.
Aside from the context of the game itself, it works and looks decent enough, aside from the font choice. The only thing that doesn’t perform smoothly (that isn’t bugged) is your inventory and hotbar being separate; unlike most other games that use this same inventory system, you have to drag items between the inventory and your onscreen hotbar instead of all being in one place.
There are also no easy ways to do anything in this game quickly. No quick stacking to storage systems or even just a button to dump everything in; the map doesn’t show your precise location and instead gives you a vague idea of where you are, and it feels like half the buttons on the UI are missing sounds or icons, for some reason. Overall, this part needs a lot more time in the oven.
Progressing Onwards and Upwards
Progression in One Lonely Outpost is pretty much entirely determined by the game, and there is very little you can do to speed it up.
I found it pitifully easy to get every task done as soon as I got it, meaning I was always going outside, maybe mining a bit, and sleeping until the next mission. You can do nothing to make this faster; it’s so incredibly draining.
These missions are fine and fit the game’s vibe but they come too slowly. The game should incorporate a system where tasks will be given whenever you finish the previous one or missions are spaced out, but you can still do a lot with your time.
It does neither and makes me sleep more days than I work, nor I just feel entirely bored. To quote my Steam review: “Give me THINGS I can DO. I am BEGGING you, PLEASE!”
Replayability in One Lonely Outpost is far lower than in most other sandbox or farming sim games. The only real appeal I could see from replaying the game is trying to get better dialogue options since the game allows you to flirt with some characters or have other dialogue options impact them. I never felt motivated to do anything differently or see anything I missed.
Since missions are so linear and there is barely anything to do in terms of customizability, combat, or really that many significant choices to make, replaying this game is solely to see different dialogue and maybe try to min-max a bit better and farm some more carrots by sundown than you did last time, otherwise it’s pretty pointless.
Since One Lonely Outpost takes a lot from a very particular genre that’s exploded in recent years, I’ll refrain from overloading this section with farming titles and instead go for a few games I think match the vibe or gameplay style of this game quite well.
- Stardew Valley is the first to come to mind when considering any farming sim game. It’s not like every farming sim is like Stardew; it’s just that ones like this that have RPG elements, mining, and a social sim added will get the comparison. Stardew is excellent, though, and easy to recommend.
- Starbound is a game that I also don’t think is all too great, but this one has a ton of mods that can enhance the experience or, at the very least, give you a ton of fun with friends. It’s fully 2D but has similar mechanics and vibes to this game, along with multiplayer.
- Core Keeper has you building your colony in a charming art style with fun combat. It’s not precisely about farming, and it takes place deep underground rather than in space, but it’s still a great time if the colony-building aspect drew you to One Lonely Outpost.
Plugin Summary: One Lonely Outpost is a unique game in the farming sim sphere, taking a lonely colony-building-focused approach. However, in its current Early Access state, it falls short of just about every possible mark and is difficult to recommend until it gets more meaningful content and its glaring issues are fixed.
Overall, I can’t recommend this game in its current state. I’ve played decently far in it, and while it has a few interesting ideas that seem unique and cool, but, like almost every other system in this game, is entirely surface-level and meshes with none of the other 30 systems that you want to interact with for a total of 10 minutes each.
There are reasons to enjoy it, and I looked through some Steam reviews after writing. While most negative ones agree with my idea of the game, the positive ones go on about the potential it has to be great.
I agree that there is a ton of potential, but the game never realizes any of it and leaves me staring at my computer screen, wondering why I decided to review this game in the first place.
With a good enough story, soundtrack, and general polish, I could be convinced that the feel of the gameplay was intentional, and the lonely and empty world was meant to make me feel bored.
However, even games that aren’t going for a vibe like this, such as Minecraft, do a better job at it and make me feel alone while giving me goals to work towards and keeping me entertained.
This game would have to clean up many things to get it to a state where I can recommend it. It’s empty, boring, and doesn’t have that many redeeming qualities that can make it stand on its own two legs for more than 5 minutes at a time. Unless you believe it’ll become something more or it makes some great changes, I’d skip this one.
- A great soundtrack that is pleasant to listen to.
- An exciting and unique approach to a story for a farming sim.
- It may get better through Early Access.
- Slow and completely linear progression.
- Mismatched and clashing visual styles.
- Frankly boring gameplay with very little substance on offer.
Question: What is One Lonely Outpost?
Answer: A farming and colony-building sim set on a desolate planet where you must survive while rebuilding.
Question: What do you do in One Lonely Outpost?
Answer: For most of the game, you wait until you’re given a mission, complete that mission, and repeat, occasionally mining or farming in between.
Question: Why is One Lonely Outpost in Early Access?
Answer: According to the developers, it will be in EA for 12 months or longer; currently has no end but will once it is finished, and they’re using its time in Early Access to gauge people’s thoughts on the game and improve it.
One Lonely Outpost Review:Play Log
I played One Lonely Outpost on PC with a keyboard and mouse for 8 hours, I attempted to play it on my Steam Deck, but it’s currently extremely slow there.