Lightyear Frontier Early Access review: Mech yourself at home

Lightyear Frontier Early Access review: Mech yourself at home
Images via Amplifier Studios, FRAME BREAK

Written by 

Dani Cross


15th Mar 2024 14:00

At times, Lightyear Frontier feels like a cosy Subnautica. You’re exploring an alien planet and collecting increasingly rare materials, and you only have a robotic voice in your head to remind you that you’re not alone.

It has co-op, but when playing solo it can feel very reminiscent of that iconic survival game - without the immense stress of being stranded underwater and surrounded by horrifying monsters. In fact, there’s absolutely no threat whatsoever.

This is a true cosy game, where nothing can harm you while you can explore, farm and craft. You don’t have to worry about making it back to your base before nightfall or planning your days to maximise your material gathering. 

The only real danger is water, which can sink your mech even if you wade knee-deep into it. You’ll just respawn right away though. Aside from that, you can relax and enjoy the game your own way - and for the most part, it offers a quality sci-fi farming game with a solid sense of progression, enough to hook you for its relatively short runtime.

GGRecon Verdict

Lightyear Frontier takes familiar gameplay, places you in a mech and encourages you to explore, farm and craft stress-free. It won't blow you away, but it'll satisfy players looking for a cosy vibe, and it kept me coming back to see what else I could unlock or craft.

Robot Rock

There’s a faint hint of a plot here, but you’re not playing Lightyear Frontier for the storyline. Rather, the enjoyment comes from crafting, farming, building your home and cleaning up the polluted environment. You’ll chop wood and mine stone like any crafting game, but you’ll also feed animals to restore resources, find treasures to sell or uncover mysteries hidden on a quaint alien planet.

A pond in Lightyear Frontier.
Click to enlarge

Progression is achieved by finding materials to earn upgrades and “restoring” regions by sucking up weeds or cleansing noxious slimes. Small story beats occur along the way, but you’ll mostly be doing it for the satisfaction of saving nature and the new materials that will spawn when a region is cleared. 

It can feel a little like busywork, but it’s gratifying to clear each region and restore the natural order. When you do, you’ll get new materials like copper or iron to use in better crafts. It’s a gameplay loop we’ve all played before - craft things to get upgrades, use those upgrades in the world, and get new materials to craft more things.

But what about the mechs, the things that drew so much attention to this title in the first place? A mech farming game sounds a bit bizarre on the surface, but it makes sense when you’re in the driver’s seat. You can quickly swap out tools on your mechanical body to complete tasks, jump from great heights without worrying about fall damage, and even shoot seeds or sprouts from a cannon to make farming a breeze.

A mech in Lightyear Frontier.
Click to enlarge

It doesn’t really feel like a “mech” game, though. It’s a standard survival/crafting game with added tools and some extra weight to your movement. There are flourishes that help sell the novelty of wearing what’s essentially a giant metal suit - water drips down your cockpit when it’s raining, and you’ll scare small animals if you stomp too close to them. These elements are nice, and I wish the game leaned into the mech gameplay a little more to make it feel a bit more unique.

Faulty Wiring

Despite the peaceful vibes, it’s not without some frustrations. Minor inconveniences can make the experience cumbersome - your mech, for example, can easily stumble over rocks and comically tumble into the dirt. This isn’t so bad and probably makes for a lot of laughs in co-op. It doesn’t turn very quickly though, which can be annoying when you’re sprinting somewhere and need to manoeuvre through trees and rocks. I often felt a bit drunk, bashing into trees while running through forests.

A large fossil in Lightyear Frontier.
Click to enlarge

It’s easy to run out of inventory space too. I’ve played a lot of survival/crafting games, and most let you carry more than Lightyear Frontier. It feels odd, considering this is one of the rare cases in the genre where the devs would be able to justify giving you huge storage right out of the gate. And if you drop items to make room, one wrong movement means you’ll pick them right back up again.

The relaxed nature of the game makes these things less problematic than they might be in a more stressful environment. Still, it’s not without its irritants. For the most part though, Lightyear Frontier is pretty polished. Other than inventory troubles and the odd mediocre puzzle, my crafting adventure was largely easygoing.

Home Sweet Home

I’m typically more of a practical player rather than a decorator, so my home ended up as a series of crafting stations and farm plots with a small cabin for me to sleep in. If you prefer, you can build all kinds of customisable items and spread them out all over your base. It’s not an in-depth building system, but the pre-built items look nice and allow you to easily make a nice-looking farm.

You can even upgrade your in-game "cosiness" by building decorative items around your house. It's a fun way to get rewarded for paying attention to an otherwise optional part of the game, but if you prefer you can ignore the decorative aspects and focus solely on grinding materials and cleaning up the grasslands.

Materials on the ground in Lightyear Frontier.
Click to enlarge

There’s also a handy merchant who’ll stop by your base if you build a landing pad for them. Here you can sell unwanted goods or treasures you’ve found in the world in exchange for customisable mech parts and other neat goodies. It helps make the game feel less solitary when you’re playing solo too.

New discoveries feel meaningful, which always helps to make a game feel more adventurous and rewarding. Clearing biomes to unlock their materials opens up new avenues for creation, and diving into ruins or caves grants you special materials or rare treasures. The game is well-paced, ensuring these discoveries don’t come too quickly to be overwhelming, or too slowly to satisfy your desire to delve deeper.

The Verdict

Lightyear Frontier isn’t going to blow anyone away, but I was surprised I enjoyed it as much as I did. It’s a safe, laidback game a lot of people will vibe with. The accessible nature of the game makes it an easy recommendation for fans of the genre who prefer to farm or explore in peace, but there’s enough going on to satisfy anyone looking for a slightly deeper experience than the average cosy farming sim.

It takes tried-and-tested crafting gameplay, combines it with a vibrant art style and encourages you to take it all in at your own pace. It’s far from outstanding, but it’s the exact kind of game many people will love all the same.


Reviewed on PC. Code provided by the publisher.

Dani Cross
About the author
Dani Cross
Dani is a Guides Writer for GGRecon. She graduated from university with a degree in Broadcast Journalism, then worked as a freelance writer before joining the GGRecon team as a full-time writer in 2023. In her opinion, the best game of all time is Elden Ring – but her favourite is Halo: Reach, a game that created lifelong friendships and somehow started her down the path to a career in media. She’s also way too invested in Pokemon cards, and a big fan of guinea pigs, cats and other cute creatures.
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