There are certain crowdfunded games that you hope do well, just because you think, “The world could use a game like this.” Lonesome Village feels like that type of title. It seemed quaint, relaxed, and refreshing. Fortunately, this is a project that did deliver on its promises. However, it is more simplistic and effortless than I expected.
Wes is a young coyote with a mission and destiny. They are the only one capable of wielding a special magnifying glass that can reveal the secrets of an imposing tower in Ubhora. Which is pretty critical, as all of the villagers ended up encased in statues inside when it rose from the ground during a festival. It’s time to listen to a fairy friend — who yes, does say, “Hey, listen!” — to restore the town while also socializing in your new home.
Nothing Wrong with Being Basic.
Now, when I say simple, it applies to pretty much every element in Lonesome Village. The character designs minimalistic, focusing on strong linework and effective colors to set people apart. The characterizations and backstories also aren’t overly elaborate. There are no defining characteristics tying them to the puzzles that unlock them, and their backstories and personalities are akin to Animal Crossing villagers. The story itself doesn’t wear out its welcome, telling you what you need to know. Puzzles also aren’t terribly taxing, with each room only taking under five minutes, and never more than 15. Extra activities, like fishing or farming, don’t require too much skill or keeping track of seasons.
In a way, it helps enhance the calming atmosphere. Yes, there is an ominous tower in the middle of town. It is tied to a cult. Villagers are encased in stone statues inside. However, there’s no pressure. You don’t have to worry about time limits. It is pretty easy to solve most of the puzzles. Earning money or finding items to help with villagers’ fetch quests is simple enough. Wes is the only one who can make this community whole again. But really, there’s no rush. If you have a moment, maybe you could reunite families and friends? Only if it isn’t too much trouble.
It isn’t Lonesome for Long
I ended up getting the impression that maybe it is designed to be a first adventure game for younger players or beginners. When characters talk, there will be icons representing their actions or requests in speech bubbles above their heads. The puzzles I’ve encountered didn’t rely upon text to get the point across or find solutions. It’s like a first Legend of Zelda-like, only without Ganon’s minions playing keep-away with the Master Sword or the Moon of Termina minutes away from annihilating everything. This also means the life simulation elements are minimal as well. They’re more of a thing you can do to help complete requests and ascend the tower.
It also seems like some quality of life features ended up getting left by the wayside due to the minimalist nature. The bag space is limited, so you need to rely on extra chests or go gather again to get some needed materials. Going to interact with a save statue or chest? You need to approach it from the right direction before pressing the button, or nothing will happen. I also initially encountered some issues in which I might “lock up” in a puzzle room and be unable to proceed. But I found the old failsafe of “turning it off, then on again” tended to solve any issue. A second pass through the script would also have been appreciated, as I came across quite a few instances where a line would repeat or there’d be a spelling error. (The repeated lines could have been the result of a bug, however, and may be fixed after an update.)
Lonesome Village is pleasant. The world is bright and colorful. Despite things being Very Wrong around town, there’s no sense of pressing danger. It encourages you to take in the scenery and solve puzzles at your leisure. While that means it can feel a little too rudimentary, it’s generally a good time. Especially as villagers start to return and you get a chance to interact with more (virtual) “people” again.
Lonesome Village is available for the Nintendo Switch and PC.