April 15, 2024
Lonesome Village is cosy sim meets adventure puzzler. The Finger Guns review

Everyone sometimes needs a fresh start sometimes. I’m not sure Wes realised his fresh start would involve trying to save an entire village. As he makes his way to a new area, he realises everything is not as it seems. A quiet ghost town. He catches a a glimpse of someone or something but they dash out of sight whilst running into a haunting tower. Lonesome Village is a puzzle adventure turned cosy-sim. Puzzles? Gardening? Collecting? It’s all here. Let’s get into it.

The Only Coyote in the Village 

The villagers in Lonesome have all vanished. A tower has been built in its stead, and according to my new sidekick, Coronya, the characters can be felt inside of it. Saving them is the only way to save the village from complete exile. 

What do we know that Wes doesn’t? Well, long ago, in the village of Ubhora (now known as Lonesome!), there lived a group of worshippers to several gods who were commanded by three leaders. One day, during one of their rituals, the dimensional portals opened, showing the genuine deity, who was searching for a mystical device and its bearer. The wearer would be endowed with wisdom, power, and perfect control. Wes now needs to figure out exactly why this tower was built, and why the villagers were trapped within the tower. Not only that but he now has the massive job of trying to save each and everyone of them. 

This story is to Lonesome Village is told in chapters, and on your first night you meet a fairy friend in Coronya. Coronya acts as a tour guide to this sleepy hollow, as well as an acquaintance that helps you figure out your next move. She’s pretty busy it seems so she hands you a mirror and a magnifying glass to be able to communicate with her, whilst also uncovering ancient secrets of the village. When used, the magnifying glass allows you to uncover secret cracks in the floor, or lights that were previously hidden from sight. It’s a unique tool to your backpack. 

Coronya tells us this is not the first instance where villagers have disappeared and towers have been erected in plain sight. She explains that the tower requires hearts to progress to higher floors. These hearts are earned from friendship and completing tasks for the residents you save. There are 30 floors to the tower, and each floor requires more and more hearts to be able to enter. Some floors will release more than one villager so you have plenty of errands to run in your goal of gathering hearts.

Till Your Hearts Content

One of the most pleasant and biggest surprises of Lonesome village is the depth and creativity of the puzzles on each floor. From finding fireflies in the dark, to playing with mouseholes and cheese, to table top puzzles similar to Tetris, to using light and reflections there really was no puzzle similar to another. Each puzzle you solve earns you a tool to release your villager. In addition to ascending each floor, the tower occasionally required gifts from the outside world in order to go on. This adds an additional fetch to your quest which require you to go out exploring. There’s a nice variety too; Never once did I think, “oh this is just like that other one”.

At times the puzzles would be in three phases of difficulty before completion and there are options to skip if you find them too tricky, but this comes with a price of 100 coins. Whilst one of the most creative arcs of puzzle adventure I have seen, sometimes the handling and precision that was required for the puzzle did not match up well to the movement speed from Switch thumb sticks. This meant repeatedly dying in areas that required tight movement.

Lonesome Village Review Switch

Each villager comes with their own personality, whether it’s the grumpy toolsman, the sweet baker, or the badger that just wants to follow you around everywhere. They all have their own name and recognizable design. The colour palette for both the world and in character are vibrant, with a cartoonish artstyle. It feels like it’s straight out of a colouring book I would have loved to have had as a kid. 

At one point there was even a mouse called Tom – I desperately held out all hopes that there would be a cat called Jerry, but alas it was not to be. The music sounds like it’s straight out of the likes of Disney orchestra at times and it’s never not pleasant on the ears. 

The story is intriguing throughout and does not stop at just saving the villagers; there is a backstory to be discovered and Lonesome Village is not your average ‘I came to a village to get out of the city story’, you see in other life simulators. 

The world itself is vast and unique in every location. Some items will be only local to that particular area. You can explore the village itself, and as you unlock villagers, they go home to their own locations. This could be located in the main village itself, or in one of the surrounding areas, which may be a sandy beached area, a swamp, up the mountains, or even your local jungle. We all have one of those next to our village right? Nevertheless, each area always offers something new and different to the story. As you progress, resident will start asking for more complex, hard to find items that require more steps or exploration, from finding stray carrots, to building clocks and bejewelled goods.

Statue of Taking Liberties  

What I truly actually wished was turned into stone and locked away in a tower never to be seen again instead of the villagers, is the save system. The save system in Lonesome VIllage is completely manual, with little to no autosave feature. Miniature statues are located around the village which can be interacted with in order to save. It’s a great idea in theory, having to save where you like, when you like, in whatever location you desire to be in. Sounds great right? 

What isn’t in fact fabulous about the feature, is the fact it is 2022, and not having autosave in some capacity feels like the literal stone age (all puns about stones and statues intended). This wouldn’t be so bad, if it wasn’t also cemented in with the game freezing on me, multiple times. Initially, I was only saving very infrequently, maybe when I was logging off, or I felt something really important happened, or I indeed remembered to actually save the game. A lot can happen when it comes to life simulation and adventure games, especially ones with an actual story and level progression. 

So imagine my dismay when I lost an hour and a half of progress due to the screen freezing. “Fine, my fault.” I actually tried to reason with myself first off, blaming that I had completely forgotten to touch or find the status for a while, so what’s a gal to do. 

My second freeze was approx. 30 minutes later, and then the final straw was after 15 minutes. I’m in favour of frequent saving if it’s required, but doing it probably after every move made? Just to avoid lost progress because of a crash? That takes the biscuit. It’s a shame to say I was over trying to reason with the game past this. I had already re-done over two hours of gameplay and I wasn’t willing to make any more bets on how small of a chunk I could lose. Which is a huge shame, as I do feel Lonsome Village has so much to offer and actually was a lot of fun to play. I was lucky enough to finish the full tower and save all of the villagers, and see where the game opened up from there, despite the crashes.

Lonesome Village Review

My only other gripes, which tends to be my gripes with any cosy game, is the inventory system. As you progress through the game, Wes picks up a number of items that you’ll need more regularly, therefore it is just easier to keep them on hand. This takes up a lot of inventory space and I found myself constantly going back to chests to prioritise which errand I was running next. When you’re hoping the game won’t crash, this feels like lost time.

Lonesome Village also does expect you to have some sort of super memory, as there is no list anywhere for what villager needs and where. This means you can end up getting in quite the muddle once you’ve rescued everyone. Even dropping in to this game daily, I constantly had to remind myself what I was doing and who was it for, and where did they live. I am not sure I have written anything down from a game in a very long time, but this was necessary!

From my research, I saw that Lonesome Village is the first development of games in a PC/Console world for Ogre Pixel. What a promising debut, and with some excellent elements that’ll keep you entertaining. This game brings a fresh take to both cosy sim and puzzle adventures and with a patch or two around the freezing might crack the top 5 in the genres. Right now though, it needs a little TLC.

A delightful refreshing new story for a cosy sim blends with an extremely creative puzzler in Lonesome Village, which features a cute art style and relaxing vibes throughout. With a few patches to address crashing, it could be among the best in the genre. Even with these issues though, the game gets my recommendation with a caveat to save often so you don’t lose your progress.

Lonesome Village is out now on Nintendo Switch (review platform), Xbox Series X/S and PC via Steam.

Developer: Ogre Pixel
Publisher: Ogre Pixel

Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.

If you enjoyed this article or any more of our content, please consider our Patreon.

Make sure to follow Finger Guns on our social channels. TwitterFacebook, TwitchSpotify or Apple Podcasts – to keep up to date on our news, reviews and features

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.