Lightyear Frontier early access review: Get in your mech, besties — we're going farming

Farming alien planets on the fringes of space is fantastic with friends.

Lightyear Frontier takes cozy, wholesome farming simulation to outer space, and you get to bring your friends along for the journey.
(Image: © Cole Martin/Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

Lightyear Frontier's development team is determined to bring its debut indie game to life. Despite an indefinite delay, the game's well-defined roadmap for expected updates promises an exceptional, comforting gaming experience. Although there's still room for improvement, the early-access farming simulator could transform into the cooperative game of my dreams.


  • +

    Cooperative multiplayer.

  • +

    Casual gameplay without a fail state.

  • +

    Incredible art direction and beautifully designed world.


  • -

    Crafting machinery doesn't draw resources from nearby storage.

  • -

    Could use more wildlife and plant variety.

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When we think about games that take us to distant alien planets, there is usually hostility or combat involved. Lightyear Frontier shakes up that preconception, however, by taking us to a distant planet with some unusual wildlife that you never once have to fight.

The character's mech suit won't be farming for kills here. Instead, we're equipped with high-powered tools for farming veggies and other handy resources that can help us create the ultimate homestead.

Lightyear Frontier is my dream co-op scenario. A wide-open world rich with resources and cozy farming where I have the option to bring my friends along is exactly the kind of break I need. I play a lot of competitive, squad-based games, but sometimes, I just want to drag the crew to a virtual farm where we can hang out and watch some veggies grow.


This review was made possible by a review code provided by FRAME BREAK and Amplifier Games. The company did not see the contents of this review before publishing.

What is Lightyear Frontier?

When Earth becomes uninhabitable, humans take to space to find a new planet to call home. These astrofarmers have amazing mech suits that can be used to help traverse alien planets, do all the heavy lifting of vital resources, and make light work of constructing and farming in a strange new world. Lightyear Frontier begins after an unnamed (and mostly unseen) astrofarmer crash lands on a distant planet, far from Earth, on the edge of the galaxy. Players begin by finding their crashed mech suit and learning to repair it in the field.

Lightyear Frontier

Lightyear Frontier takes cozy, wholesome farming simulation to outer space, and you get to bring your friends along for the journey.

(Image credit: Cole Martin/Windows Central)

Price: $25 (Steam) | $23 (Xbox)
Developer: FRAME BREAK
Publisher: Amplifier Games
Genre: Open-world farming simulator
Install size: 2.17 GB (Steam)
Playtime: 30+ hours
Platforms: PC, Xbox
Reviewed on: PC (Steam)
Release date: March 19, 2024

The wholesome open-world farming simulator is the debut of developing studio FRAME BREAK and publisher Amplifier Games. Lightyear Frontier was originally unveiled on the E3 stage during an Xbox Showcase in 2021 but was unexpectedly delayed indefinitely by the developers the following Spring. Thankfully, the surprise delay was only to give the studio of twelve people more time to work on the farming simulator before releasing it into Game Preview/Early Access.

Lightyear Frontier will be available to purchase on Xbox Series X|S, Windows PC, Steam, or play Day One with an Xbox Game Pass subscription on March 19, 2024. The game will be in an early access state at launch, but FRAME BREAK has already shared a roadmap for Lightyear Frontier's "living content" updates. These updates include plans for quality-of-life improvements, greater accessibility, more areas, neighbors, plants and animals, and, of course, mech upgrades.

Lightyear Frontier: Gameplay

You can't be an astrofarmer without cool tools, but first you must find and recover them. (Image credit: Cole Martin/Windows Central)

FRAME BREAK has really leaned into the cozy side of farming simulation for Lightyear Frontier, creating a gameplay loop that is easy to learn, navigate, and enjoy. Farming simulation is one of my favorite game genres because it takes a task that is traditionally difficult and laborious and makes it more enjoyable, almost mindless. Lightyear Frontier nails this and never makes working on your homestead feel like a chore. Even though planting seeds, carrying water, crafting resources, and harvesting certainly are chores, the loop of completing daily tasks is broken up by the potential to go and explore this new alien world.

Finding new resources to craft with gives the player a break from that main gameplay grind, but the various areas of the world are afflicted by strange weeds and slime. Players are free to take their time and clear out these obstructions to restore the health of an area and gain access to its resources. There's never any reason to hurry, and the weeds will still be there tomorrow if you decide to call it quits for the night. 

Lightyear Frontier doesn't just give you the freedom to explore and grow your homestead at your own pace; it actively encourages it. Craft a hammock, take a nap, and you can go back to clearing sludge tomorrow after you finish the morning chores.

This glitched noxious weed tormented me for way too long. (Image credit: Cole Martin/Windows Central)

It's not all slow, thoughtful Hygge living, however. Lightyear Frontier is in early access, and there are certainly bugs to be found. I don't just mean the Ratscallions hiding in a crevice on a cliff side or the Stalktail that are prancing around under the safety of a tree canopy, either. There were plenty of times while exploring that I would find myself falling down a rock cliff, only for my mech to get stuck on the geometry. No amount of busting rocks with my astrofarmer's pickaxe would free it. Thankfully, there are some options in place to help with this, and players can simply press the "Help, I'm Stuck!" button from the pause menu to reset their mech and farmer in a more stable locale without worry of losing any collected resources.

 Along with finding myself stuck on occasion, I also experienced an unusual glitch with one of my raised garden beds. An event can occur in the game where noxious weeds and slime make their way to your own homestead—one of the few 'challenging' moments that force you to be in a spot for a period of time to complete a task.

A noxious weed seed planted itself in the corner of my garden bed, unbeknownst to me, and sprouted an entire plant of ick. However, instead of growing in the mound where it was planted, the noxious weed glitched into the side of the raised planter. No seed planted in this mound of dirt would grow. The only solution was to destroy the planter, clear the weed, and then rebuild. Thankfully, destroying your structures returns all materials used back to you, so it was much easier to accomplish than expected.

Lightyear Frontier includes a mech upgrade map that requires you to refine and craft resources into useful upgrades that make farming and exploring more fruitful. (Image credit: Cole Martin/Windows Central)

One of the best aspects of Lightyear Frontier's gameplay may actually be the easiest to overlook. Most gamers are familiar with an upgrade tree and will find little to nothing different with Lightyear Frontier's approach. There are upgrades for the tools, each of which requires refined resources that can be grown or harvested from the world. The kicker is that when a player is going to craft a resource, it is visible on the resource's description what other craftable items utilize that resource. It's such a simple detail, but it makes keeping track of what items you're crafting and for what reason so much easier. The only downside is that there isn't a display on how many items you're about to craft are already stored on your homestead, so you can easily make way too many.

This also leads me to my one source of contention with a game that I otherwise loved. Lightyear Frontier's homesteading design encourages players to build barns and warehouses to increase crafting production. However, the system cannot detect resources that are stored in the same warehouse as the machinery used for crafting. The player must collect the resources and have them in their inventory before using them. If the items are stored in a crate or barrel in the same warehouse as the machinery, I see no reason for the game not to recognize its existence and allow me to draw it directly from storage to craft. Is it a minor gripe? Yes. But I'm hoping it's one of those promised quality-of-life upgrades coming very soon.

Lightyear Frontier: Visuals and audio

Ruins house strange stones which, when busted, expose artifacts so you can learn about the planet's other inhabitants. (Image credit: Cole Martin/Windows Central)

Lightyear Frontier is a visually striking game with brightly colored trees and unusual alien lifeforms scattered across the world. The UI is clean and easy to read, and it navigates well with both a controller and a mouse. The easy-going nature of the game is perfectly accented by a peaceful playlist of relaxing music. 

While our astrofarmer never speaks, there is voice acting in the form of our watchful guide, PIP-3R, who has an almost "southern grandma"-like twang going on. PIP-3R's narration adds context and story to Lightyear Frontier, giving the player purpose when exploring.

Lightyear Frontier: Accessibility and approachability

There are some adorable creatures running around, but the world could use more variety in animal types. (Image credit: Cole Martin/Windows Central)

The cozy, wholesome vibe of Lightyear Frontier ensures that it is immediately approachable by players of all skills and interests. Farming and exploration are risk-free, with the player unable to fall into a fail state. Only two events, the noxious bubbles and invasive weed seeds being blown in by storms, provide any real threat. At worst, you may lose a few crops when slime or weeds land in your gardens. 

Even falling off of large cliffs or entering deep water is no match for the astrofarmer's mech suit. Instead of failure or death, the player and the mech suit are respawned somewhere nearby that is a bit safer, without any resource or cash loss.

While approachable, Lightyear Frontier does lack a dedicated accessibility menu. There are still options, however. Players can toggle subtitles and player names when in multiplayer sessions on or off. UI text size can be increased or decreased as necessary, and options like screen shake and view bob can be adjusted for those of us who struggle with motion sickness in games. Motion blur, look sensitivity, and effects like lens flare can also be adjusted as necessary.

Lightyear Frontier: Should you buy it?

You can not customize your astrofarmer, but we also rarely see them. The mech suit can be customized extensively, however. (Image credit: Cole Martin/Windows Central)

There's a risk to buying and recommending early-access games. The potential is always lurking for the title never to leave its early access state or for changes to be made later down the line that the game's community despises. There is also something exciting about getting to see a game start at ground level and grow over its lifespan into something molded and shaped by the developers and the community that loves it. 

FRAME BREAK's development team, while small, seems determined to see this game through. It is nothing short of brave to announce an indefinite delay on a debut indie game that garnered the level of attention Lightyear Frontier did when it was announced. But FRAME BREAK chose to do that, and the game is ultimately better for it. It is still unfinished, but releasing the game with a clear roadmap of expected updates is a promising sign that Lightyear Frontier is being fostered into a truly special, cooperative and cozy gaming experience.

Lightyear Frontier will launch on Xbox Series consoles, Windows PCs, and Steam on March 19 for $25. Players who have Xbox Game Pass for console or PC or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be able to play the game at launch at no extra cost. Grab your besties and drop in for some cozy farming with mechs in space. It's certain to be a good time.

Cole Martin

Cole is the resident Call of Duty know-it-all and indie game enthusiast for Windows Central. She's a lifelong artist with two decades of experience in digital painting, and she will happily talk your ear off about budget pen displays.