What if you combine the building and resource management of Minecraft, the graphical fidelity of a 1991 PC DOS platformer, and the survival strategy gameplay of a game like Grounded? And let’s not forget to add a touch of “Lost in Space” for the setting and story. If you shake that coctail hard enough, you’ll get Farworld Pioneers. A 2D survival sandbox game developed by Igloosoft and published by Tiny Build. The game has just been released on Xbox and is also available on Xbox Game Pass. Additionally, it’s available on Steam, and a version for PS4/5 is currently in the works.
This Farworld Pioneers review is played on Xbox Series X and PC. The game is available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S for $14.99/€ 14.99. The game is also available on Xbox Game Pass. In this review we’ll be focussing on the single player experience, but game features PvE and online PvP and Co-op modes as well, which we will address in a separate article in due time.
Lost in Space
In Farworld Pioneers, you and your fellow space explorers crash land on an unknown planet. Although the details are scarce, it can be assumed that your spacecraft was destroyed, and the ship’s crew members are scattered across the planet’s surface. You find yourself landing with your companion, appropriately named Buddy. Together you need to build a base to protect yourself, gathering resources, and researching new materials and equipment. All in an effort to find a way off the planet.
Your not alone
As mentioned, you and Buddy are not the only survivors. On the surface, you’ll find more escape pods, humans, and other newly formed communities. These groups of people can be friendly or hostile. So, in order to stay safe, and not only against the planet’s ecological characteristics and fauna, you need to protect yourself against other survivors that turned into militias. So, you also need to quickly build defenses and develop armor, weaponry, and fortification materials. Combining this with the overall struggle of surviving with limited rations makes it quite a challenging task.
It all starts with gathering and mining raw materials. Below surface, the planet is filled with all sorts of resources like coal, iron, copper, sulfur, sand, etc. You can use these raw materials to create building materials like bricks, iron plating, wooden stairs, and many more. Anyone who played games like Grounded should be very familiar with how resource management and building works in this game.
Exploiting your fellow survivors
Fortunately, you can persuade other stranded survivors, to join your little community. Each survivor brings unique skills and expertise, having been part of an interstellar spaceship crew. Their abilities influence their role in your team, but they also have their quirks. All of your fellow survivors are as dumb as a bucket. They get stuck in mining shafts or engage in unhelpful tasks like moving your belongings around, or moving materials while you are creating them. In the end, it’s a matter of assigning them to specific tasks like mining and building. Getting more people in gets the jobs done faster of course. “Hey, would you like to join my community? Great! Here’s a pickaxe. Off to the mines you go!”
UI bugs and control issues
The building aspect of the game can be quite challenging. The controls are a bit wonky in this aspect of the game. Additionally, I encountered quite a lot of minor bugs, particularly during the building process. The bigger the project, the more likely some interface related bug will pop up too. Issues like getting stuck in group selection modes or old tiles not disappearing when deleted made me pull my hair out more than once. Igloosoft needs to take a look at these AI and UI bugs, because it just wasn’t a particularly satisfying experience.
It took me quite a while before I got used to the awkward controls in this game. It demands some controller gymnastics to have your character moving and executing simple commands like communicating with your fellow survivors and moving, while selecting your targets at the same time. Other survivors just won’t stand still. This is extremely frustrating as you need to hover the character and be able to press the X button to open the dialogue screen. This means using the left thumbstick, the right thumbstick, and the X button simultaneously. It’s a extremely clumsy.
True sandbox experience
The sandbox aspect of the game truly is hands-off and allows you to interact with the world however you want. This is where the game really shines for me. If you want to create a sect, like Walter Kurtz in Apocalypse Now, you can build a throne, set your minions to work, and rule like a God-king. However, you still have to deal with the world around you. During a gathering mission, my colleagues were raided and killed by marauders (RIP Catherine and Amir, you will be missed). They even raided our mine-cave-hideout while I was away. Fueled by anger, I sought revenge. Armed with the weapons I had looted and found in the world (since I couldn’t build them up to that point), I embarked on a path of vengeance, alone.
Upon reaching their hideout, I was astounded by the formidable fortifications they had constructed—barbed wire fencing, floodlights, steel walls… and a locked door. With no key and nothing more than resourceful ingenuity, I utilized a McGyverish approach. I dug my way under their hideout, created a hole in the floor, tossed in two grenades, and decisively brought an end to this brief but intense feud. The outcome was immensely gratifying, to say the least.
Story and online features
After hours and hours of building, exploiting fellow survivors, and settling feuds, I still haven’t even touched the story quests. The ultimate goal of the game is to escape the planet. This goal can be reached by sticking to the main quests. These quests let you search for locations, persons, and objects in the world. Having decent gear and defenses helps a lot in clearing these main quests, so rushing through them is not a good idea. In general, it helps to keep the game experience a bit more streamlined and give it a definite ending.
The online features add to the already enormous amount of things to do in this game. PvP, co-op, and PvE options are all available. However, in order to make it worthwhile to invest time into these features, I believe you need to have a decent familiarity with the game’s mechanics to truly enjoy it. We will continue playing the game and plan to write an article specifically focusing on these features at a later time.
The game provides a vast amount of content, options, and interesting game mechanics. It it will to those with nostalgia for early 90's graphics. Unfortunately, the frustrating controls on both Xbox and PC, numerous minor bugs, and lackluster and sometimes suicide AI detract from the overall experience, preventing it from reaching its full potential. However, interacting with NPCs, devising clever strategies, and getting hooked into creative building is certainly enjoyable and will likely keep you entertained for quite a while, if your willing to cope with its smaller and bigger quirks and defects.