You have to wonder whether the creators of Lonestar were cursing their luck last November, when turn-based, space duel roguelike Cobalt Core was released. Lonestar, you see, is a turn-based, space duel roguelike, and if the two games don’t exactly look like twins, they could certainly be first cousins. Both centre on nose-to-nose spaceship battles where you pump out numbered damage in narrow columns and shift sideways to avoid incoming fire. Both involve pre-emptively neutralising the enemy’s signalled attack with randomised resources. Thus Lonestar seems to beg the question: if you’ve already played Cobalt Core (which you should) is there a need for this as well?

Thankfully, the short answer is yes. Lonestar’s early access release already has enough about it to differentiate itself not only from Cobalt Core but the teetering pile of recent turn-based roguelikes hustling for recognition around it. While of course it needs more bulk and refinement before a future 1.0 release, it’s sufficiently distinguished and piquant with its tactical demands to suck up free time like a mini black hole.

(Image credit: Math Tide)

The main difference between Lonestar and Cobalt Core—aside from Lonestar presenting its skirmishes horizontally rather than vertically—is that Lonestar isn’t a card-based game in the vein of Slay the Spire. Or at least, not quite. True, at the start of each turn, a spread of rectangles appears at the base of the screen, but these merely represent energy resources that you then allocate to units fixed to your vessel, choosing which to power up and how much for optimum results. In a way, it’s a typical card-based roguelike in reverse, in that all abilities are constantly available, but the number of points you have to spend is in randomised flux.

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