Remember all that Doomsday chat a few years back? You know, when we were told the Mayan calendar had predicted the end of the world on December 21, 2012 and we were all basically screwed as hell would almost probably take over earth? The fact that you're reading this now means we can take comfort in the fact that it didn't actually happen. However, Lonely Star [official site] is a 2D ARPG survival 'em up that imagines it did. You're dropped into the action just prior to the expected cataclysmic event where it seems like you've joined a cult.
What could possibly go wrong between now and the end of the world as we know it? If you like, you can find out now in Lonely Star's new demo.
Okay, so I say cult, but it's actually a band of misfit travelers headed by an ominous chap named Tom Magus who refers to himself as a sorcery and spiritual guru. Which is right handy, because the group he oversees are also referred to as "spiritual seekers". Um, yeah, it's probably a cult.
Anyway, after deciding to leave behind your lonesome life in Pyramid County in order to prepare for the rapture, you join Magus et al in a quest to train as a Spiritual Warrior. This ultimately involves you following whatever Mr Magus tells you to do as you enter into a world overcome with fear and hysteria on the brink of devastation. Here's lone-developer Matt Judge on how that might play out:
"Lonely Star features open-ended action combining wilderness survival, exploration, stealth, combat, and corn farming. and takes place in a weird but familiar America where ghosts of a violent past intrude suddenly into the present, and the dreams and nightmares of lonely frontier dwellers bloom to life in the vastness of the desert."
Having spent an hour or so wandering around in Lonely Star's pre-apocalyptic bounds, I've so far enjoyed what it's had to offer. Even with its retro-inspired look - right from its visuals to its menu presentation - it offers unexpected levels of depth as it unfolds. Although much of its makeup is about exploration - surviving harsh conditions, such as extreme heat or growing crops on barren land - combat feels great in that it can be approached from a number of different perspectives. Here, look, see:
Granted sometimes it gets a wee bit confusing - I couldn't tell at one stage if monsters were invading in relation to the incoming apocalypse or whether it was because my character was dehydrated - and the end game isn't clear for now, but it seems like Judge is onto something here.
If any of that floats yer boat, Lonely Star's Windows demo can be found over on InidieDB. A Mac version is said to be in the works and a Kickstarter "to support the cost of finishing the game" is planned later this year. I want a similar game that tackles the Millennium Bug next.