Lonesome Village, a game that follows and adventurous coyote as he tries to save the villagers of the titular town, is releasing on November 1. Today’s date reveal trailer shines a light on the sunny aesthetics and intriguing violence-free gameplay, and the creators have a demo up on Steam right now for anyone itching to try it out themselves. You know, players like me. Check out the trailer below and then I’ll delve into my impressions of the promising title.
Okay, it looks appealing and a little like Zelda mixed with Animal Crossing (not a bad combo), but how does it play? The demo has some rough edges, and I’ll get to that, but Lonesome Village is shaping up to be a merry romp.
I’ve had the chance to play a previous demo for Lonesome Village. That means the starting cinematic’s depiction of a happy pig playing with a sparkler suddenly vanishing without a trace along with the rest of its festival-going neighbors doesn’t pull a verbal reaction out of me this time. But it doesn’t keep me from thinking it’s messed up I had to watch the joy snatched from its eyes before a menacing tower rockets out of the earth. I’m ready to kick that structure to the ground by the time I take hold of the plucky protagonist.
Starting off in the woods just outside the town, it’s clear the demo starts near, but not exactly at, the beginning. I already have a little voice directing me towards my goal. And the voice manifests as a coyote/fairy when I enter the tower, a helpful guide that teaches me to use an ancient artifact — which is where this game treads hard on Zelda territory. My new tool is a handheld magnifying glass that reveals the unseen world around me. Sound familiar?
I’m prompted to enter a chamber, puzzle out how to light up some torches, and revivify my first villager. This one is an owl (like, they’re really getting close to the source material here) who explains a little more about how the game works. To unlock more levels of the impossibly tall spire, I need to collect hearts, which represent the friendship of the townsfolk. Save a friend, help them in town, and get to the next level. It’s a gameplay loop that sounds irresistible. And with increasingly intricate puzzles to work through, there’s equal reason to explore the dungeon as there is to expand the city. This gives players the chance to enjoy both the puzzle mechanics and life sim aspects.
It sounds like a path I’d love to follow, but there are a few bumpy patches in the demo that I hope get smoothed out in the final release. My biggest issue: the localization. The English can be clunky and awkward at times, and it’s difficult to ignore moments when a word begs for an -ing ending and it doesn’t get it. Also, there are a few glaring sections of gameplay when the character is just.. in a conveniently different place than seconds before. It’s jarring, but I have hope this could be a handy shortcut for the demo that won’t make it to release.
Neither of these diminish my interest in Lonesome Village, and hopefully, with some polish, this indie turns out to be a gem when it launches next month. Play the game for yourself before that alongside an avalanche of other Steam Next Fest demos available this week.