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How Lightyear Frontier Changes the Stardew Valley Formula

Lightyear Frontier shows off more than just a new farming sim, providing an adventure for gamers to embark on and a whole planet to explore.

There haven’t been as many farming sims announced this year as there were last year, but new entries in the genre are still prevalent, with hundreds of them flooding the market since Stardew Valley‘s release. It seems like every year we hear about a handful of new ones, but few attempt to do anything different from their predecessors. Lightyear Frontier is the latest farming sim announced, and it is incredibly innovative. Everything is done through a driver-operated mech, there seems to be an adventure campaign included in the proceedings as well as discoveries to be made that don’t revolve around town folk.

Most farming sims follow a straightforward formula. The player inherits and/or moves to a farm or rural place for the simple life, it’s a fixer-upper, the farmer gets to know people and animals in the area, there’s friendship and marriage, and the player ends up with a successful farm in the end. However, in an effort towards standing out from the pack, newer games provide the occasional change-up, like restoring green space or assisting a spirit. It seems that Lightyear Frontier is going all-out on shaking up the formula.

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Lightyear Frontier not only changes the customary locale and how the gameplay works, swapping the traditional farm and farmer for a new planet and a piloted mech but adds a layer of adventure. The trailer shown at Summer Games Fest revealed a decorative, lit-up door hidden in the wild, insinuating that the planet holds secrets waiting to be discovered. In fact, the game taking place on an alien world probably means exploration will be at the forefront, making it not just a farming sim but an adventure game. This additional layer makes Lightyear Frontier firmly stand out from other farming sims.

This isn’t the first time that innovative measures have been taken to make a game in this genre unique. Gleaner Heights flips the typical quaint town on its head by having dark secrets and a Twin Peaks atmosphere beneath its surface. Graveyard Keeper shifts its focus to maintaining a graveyard and has an interdimensional storyline with some magical twists. These games are very different from the Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon formulas, which is what makes them special. Lightyear Frontier does the same thing by adding sci-fi and adventure to the mix.

The farming sim genre shows no sign of diminishing, and it’s beginning to oversaturate the market with never-ending farm work and crafting, not to mention sweet storylines with cute styles. If developers want to create a successful farming sim in modern times, they’ll need to get creative like those producing Lightyear Frontier.

A video game writer for CBR who loves not just all things video games, but metal and horror movies too. Living in Canada with her handsome pooch, she also don’s a cape for creating digital art on occasion and has some experience with the development side of gaming. Find me over on Twitter.

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