Review: Lost Frontier15 Dec 2016 1
Review: Lost Frontier
Released 02 Jun 2016
Yeehaw! Howdy partners and welcome to the wild, wild west!. Saddle up and grab your six-shooter because things ain't so quiet on the Lost Frontier. See that fella over there, the one with the white vest and sharp goatee? That there is John McGraw, known as ol' 6-eyes around these parts. Man's a living legend. You stick with him you'll be alright.
Ok, that's enough of that. I'll dispense with further role-play if we can all agree that I have set an old-west mood properly. Deal? Great, now, before you run off to watch Deadwood again, or get caught up on WestWorld, all this mood setting was to talk about my latest review: Lost Frontier.
Lost Frontier is a turn-based combat game by Mika Mobile, the indie-family shop that made the popular Battleheart games. They decided to take a turn from epic-fantasy to the wild-west…mostly. This is not a Clint Eastwood style western and the world twists back to the fantastic as elements of steampunk, horror, and the supernatural make an appearance—vampires, werewolves, and necromancers…oh my! Western purists take note and push off to different pastures if this kind of genre-bending rankles your sensibilities.
Lost Frontier came out awhile back but never got a proper review, so here I am, like a detective chasing down a cold case. Ok…you're right, we've got enough genre blending going on as it is.
Lost Frontier is at its essence a turn-based tactical-combat game played on a grid of squares. You choose a "living legend"—think Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, or Wild Bill Hickoc—who serves as your leader and dictates a particular combat style. You have three starting options and can eventually unlock nine in total. John McGraw is a master of the revolver and gets the most out of close-quarters combatants. Wyatt Wilcox is a master sharpshooter and is at his best commanding riflemen, cannons, and Gatling guns. Doc Valentine (I see what they did there) is the best doctor on the frontier—probably not saying a ton, mind you—and will best direct doctors and chuck wagons. As you win you gain experience and pick up new bonuses, called perks, which are aligned with your leader's speciality.
You usually start a game of Lost Frontier with a relatively small number of troops. Controlling territory is the key to victory and your goal is to find a saloon and take control of it. Once you do you can recruit more units with the dollars you earn each turn. On each turn you direct each unit under your control and recruit new ones if you've got the cash. The primary goal is to wipe out your enemy, though there are secondary goals for number of turns to win and staying under a certain number of casualties.
There are twenty unique units in the game and you'll start out with the basic old-west ones. Gunslingers are your mobile, versatile, front-line fighters. They can move a pretty good distance before attacking, but have to be adjacent to their target to hit with their pistols. They can also defend themselves by making a counter attack when fired on. Riflemen are crack shots and can fire from several squares away, but can only move or fire, and are unable to counter attack. Doctors are the healers of the game. They can move far and restore health to one of your guys each turn, but they can't fight for jack and don't get to attack. If things really go south you can call in the cavalry, literally. Cavalry are super mobile troops that can get to distant enemies or far away structures quickly. Then there are the times you want to get rough-and-tumble with your foe, that's when you call for a posse. Posse's are tough and pack quite the punch, but are super vulnerable to certain weapons. From there things escalate quickly and units become increasingly exotic. Gatling guns, zeppelins, and the aforementioned vampires/werewolves.
MODES OF PLAY
Lost Frontier has a twenty-four mission campaign mode in which you play your choice of living legend. You will lead a band of mercenaries to hunt down the notorious desperado known as "The Undertaker." The story mode doubles as a bit of a tutorial and walks you through the basics, followed by a crash course in the twenty unit types. It's a lot to learn and many of these missions are quite tough, especially to complete everything and earn those three stars.
Once you've mastered the story there is more content in the form of twenty challenge missions. These are even more difficult levels and are definitely not for the uninitiated. You start out able to recruit any unit you want. The flip side is that opposing forces will be at maximum level with all available bonuses at hand. Don't try these until you've gotten at least a good way through the story.
Lost Frontier also offers a custom games. In a custom game you choose the number of players, map, legend for each player, and whether perks are on or off. You can even set handicaps and pick teams. Players in custom games can be AI or human, so you can take on your friends via pass-and-play multiplayer. There is no online play.
Lost Frontier is a good tactical-combat game and is very challenging. There are definite places many gamers will get stuck and will likely need to try and try again to come out on top and some might get frustrated by this. Luckily, there are a great many different options to experiment with and eventually you'll start to develop a preferred style.
The gameplay very much reminds me of the super-fun Warbits, just with a different theme and a much longer list of unit types. The opportunity to bring in reinforcements that fit the need at hand via the saloon is always a fun mechanic in combat games, and that's no different here. I like the tension between spending now versus saving cash to recruit stronger units later. While I like the variety of unit types, the cross-genre spread of them does feel a bit odd, like Mika Mobile wanted a ton of units but couldn't think of enough in that fit into a western.
Lost Frontier is a worthy candidate for fans of turn-based combat games who like a good challenge. You can't really go wrong with forty-four total missions and a custom-game option packed into this title. Go grab this one on iOS or Android today and get to work, partner!