If you’re looking for a wholesome game that provides a stress-free, cozy gaming experience, look no further. Lost Nova is a great exploration / adventure open world game, designed for those who just want to spend a few hours sitting back in their chair, forgetting the troubles of the world. Created almost entirely (writing, code, art) by Forager’s artist Jon Nielsen as a one-person project, you’d expect it to be a quality title, and that’s exactly what it is. Not only is the game exceptional, but it also delivers a nice message about the need to relax in a very stressful world.
The player takes the role of Mia – a young girl who crashes on an unknown planet while piloting her ship on the way to a well deserved vacation. Luckily, she doesn’t have a scratch but the same cannot be said about her ship: multiple core modules are broken beyond repair and need to be fully replaced with new ones crafted from the materials found on the planet.
At its core, Lost Nova is a scavenging game. You’ll spend your time using your laser gun to zap all kinds of plants and minerals that will be then used to craft upgrades or transformed into currency needed for buying stuff from the market. But there’s much more to it than simply collecting resources: several mini puzzles to solve, short repeatable minigames that award a considerable amount of “glens” (the game’s main currency), various quests and fishing. There’s a lot to do and the game is built in such a way that it motivates you to just go and gather a bit more until you reach a certain target (be that buying an item, or crafting an upgrade). In that regard, it’s extremely well-balanced: it doesn’t seem repetitive at all, it makes you collect *things* without making you feel that it’s grindy, and you always have an incentive to keep playing. No matter where you go to harvest, there will likely be an NPC that you can talk to, or a mini game to revisit, or an opportunity to catch a fish. You’re always given multiple courses of action and this adds a very dynamic component to the game, making it always feel fresh.
Compared to similar games in which the harvesting tools have limited amount of usages until they break and need to be replaced, Mia’s laser gun has unlimited charge, with it automatically recharging over a couple of seconds when its energy depletes – basically getting back to full power is almost instant. As you progress through the game, harvesting becomes even more effortless after you upgrade your laser gun with additional batteries that allows it to be continuously used for a longer period of time, thus also enabling the harvest of bigger resource deposits in one go. Additionally, the inventory has unlimited space – you can go on exploration trips and make them as long as you desire, without needing to come back to the base and store your resources.
The writing is great, with plenty of funny dialogues and adorable situations that trigger various quests, but also filled with heavier moments of deeper thoughts and life wisdom presented in a very candid and friendly way. The characters have very distinct individualities and they are all extremely likable and the universe of Lost Nova is so full of positivity that there isn’t even a villain in the story. Equally good, or perhaps even better is the artwork: the planet is full of whimsical creatures, one more charming than the other: taken as if they were born in a children’s book, the smiling apples, the chubby bunnies, the star-decorated trees, the giant snoring radish are all bound to melt your heart with their undeniable cuteness.
The map is pretty huge, yet split into contained areas defined by their own specific biomes. From deserts to deep oceans, from magical forests to plains, you’ll be able to discover the world of Lost Nova at your own pace, and later in the game to unlock shortcuts between these regions, together with some fast travel points in each of them. Quite early in the game you will receive a minimalistic map that helps you locate Mia’s position in the current region and the main interest points but it will not show you the quest objectives or whether a NPC has a new requirement from you – all these will have to be discovered solely by you as you explore every nook and cranny of the map, looking for resources to harvest.
The game features 18 achievements that are quite easy to obtain, most of them being unlocked naturally as you progress through the game, and as long as you follow the tasks that the other characters give you. None of these require grinding your way to a big number of resources, apart from one achievement that can be unlocked only after completing the main story, as an incentive to keep playing for a bit longer. There’s also one achievement that is highly missable, requiring a certain NPC to randomly spawn – however, even this can also be easily achieved by revisiting its spawn location several times until it appears.
Lost Nova has a way of capturing your heart by being adorably cute on every possible layer – it’s a game you can easily lose yourself into. During the wonderful 10h I spent in the game, I helped a snoring bear find his lost daughters, made friends with a giant radish, reunited an adorable pink mushroom with her beloved bird pet, aided a robot in overcoming his fear of heights – that’s only to name a very few of the quirky things you can do in the world of Lost Nova. I can only wholeheartedly recommend this little gem to anyone who seeks a chill and relaxed experience.