Bite Sized Reviews: Lonestar Early Impressions
We have some busy weeks ahead!
Before I delve into today’s review, a couple of little things first. I hope everyone’s keeping well. We’re approaching the end of January and the past week has resulted in a deluge of new opportunities. Huge thanks to all the great developers granting access to creators like me! February will be one hell of a productive month as long as health keeps up.
I’ve played a lot of different games recently. That’s always the case, but 2024 kicked things off with a bang — for better and worse. The ongoing layoffs in the gaming industry is heartbreaking. This cascade will get only worse before it gets better, unfortunately. While I can’t do much to support all those impacted, Sassygamers is always about supporting games and their creators. If you want your game featured, or fancy doing an interview with me, don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’ll be here.
Today, I’m featuring a cool game that launched a couple of weeks ago — Lonestar. This intriguing blend of card game and space bounty hunter is doing pretty well on Steam, sitting on Very Positive reviews. While an Early Access title, there’s already a strong foundation. Roguelikes remain one of the most popular genres on the market, and while it’s easy to get burnt out on them, Lonestar is both refreshing and impressive for what it offers. This is an early impressions review after a couple of runs.
Booting into the main menu was a surprising treat — the music was fantastic! I felt like I stepped into a Western bar, only I was in space. It reminded me a little of Starfield’s Akila City. The tutorial is solid, and I never felt overwhelmed by the mechanics. The game is a simple space roguelike, but it offers some great combat mechanics. As a gameplay loop, it’s like many other games in its class. As a bounty hunter, your task is to fly through space and take on contracts. After a battle, you have a select number of ‘vacation days’ to explore the sector. This can mean carrying out repairs on the spaceship, a wide variety of random events, and fleshing out your ship’s core systems. After that, it’s on to the next battle. Rinse and repeat.
Onto the combat itself. Lonestar brings something new to the table. Instead of the old and trusty card mechanics, your spaceship is equipped with different modules as well as energy units. Some modules power up the combat guns, while others offer shield boosts. Like two cowboys readying for a final duel, enemy battleships square off against yours, their guns bristling. To break through each gun’s line of fire, you need to assign your limited energy units to your guns. Each energy has a different number and type, and can only be loaded into a gun that supports it. If one line exceeds the number of the opponent, they take damage. Once you break through their shield, they will be stunned for a turn. Enemies have different abilities, like extra shielding or powering up big attacks after a delay. You can move your ship around too, either to hit their weak spot or to avoid damage. Some abilities grant powers upon movement as well.
I’m probably not explaining this very well, but I was surprised by how easy the combat is to learn. There’s a fair bit of strategy involved in the combat, forcing me into difficult situations. When the enemy powers up for a massive attack, do I sacrifice my limited energy pools to prevent damage, or do I use them to go on the offensive? The tutorial is a great way to learn the different mechanics, and while the game isn’t easy, I never felt like I was running across a field of Lego bricks barefoot to enjoy myself.
With the Early Access version, Lonestar offers two different ships, multiple pilots with their strengths and weaknesses, and a ton of parts/powerups to experience. As content goes, there’s more than enough here to enjoy. For ten dollars (or £8.50 if you’re in Old Blighty like me, or 9 Euros across the Channel), Lonestar is a promising game. With the generous number of unlocks, great visuals and sound design, it makes a great early-access title. This is how I like my Early Access games — affordable and enjoyable with room to grow. While I’ve always been a supporter of the programme, it needs to offer enough for early backers.
I wish it described effects better: some of the weapons and abilities can be confusing. Despite that, keep an eye on Lonestar. It has serious potential.
|Great music and visuals sell an immersive, space Western vibe
|Some item descriptions are vague
|Impressive combat energy mechanics makes Lonestar more unique as a deckbuilder
|Early Access, has a long way to go in development
|Decent amount of content at a low price, backed up by a great tutorial