When I first launched My Time At Portia, the new Sandbox RPG game by Panthea, I had very high expectations for this despite it being just the alpha!
With others already comparing the game to the likes of Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and works by Miyazaki, I was pretty freaking excited to dive in and explore it if only to see if this high praise was true. And honestly? I think it’s pretty spot on.
The cute painted art of the loading screen and cheery/calm music already definitely reminded me of days spent playing Animal Crossing on my DS. However, the first thing that really floored me, was the level of customization you got to control on your character.
While character customization might not be as in depth as a game like Skyrim or The Sims, My Time At Portia has a completely different art style and gives the player a chance to customize everything from hair, eyes, skin color, some facial features and even their clothing. However, if you feel like changing your mind, your appearance isn’t set in stone like some games force on you. You can visit shops like the barbers or the tailors to give your character a new look every time you feel like changing it up!
My Time at Portia is a sprawling, vast and colorful land. You start your game taking over your Pa’s workshop – which honestly first appears like a total dump – but once you start collecting enough materials to patch up holes in the floor and make/buy furniture, it really starts to feel like your own place!
Right off the bat, everything in terms of controls is easy to learn and the game does a good job of inviting you to explore with a simple-to-follow map and tons of material laying around the world waiting just waiting for collection. Besides the art, which I loved, the tips and lore on every loading screen was helpful and intriguing, teaching me new things each time.
One thing I always look for in RPG games like Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon or Stardew, is the writing quality of characters. Obviously, there are always SO many people to meet and if there’s nothing unique about them, whats the point of seeking them all out right? In My Time at Portia, I found myself really curious about some folk and wanting to immediately befriend others.
Every character offers a unique look, background and voice. When you talk to someone, they each have a name, job and someone they’re related to. Much like other beloved games in this genre, gifting and chatting them up builds up your friendship points with them. And when you begin your first official day in Portia, you have to go in town to meet someone at the Commerce Guild. When you make your way to the town square, a bunch of villagers show up for you to meet. So far, I think my favorite is Oaks, a boy with a bearskin hat. In a town full of people in casual clothes or suits – He’s the coolest looking so far to me!
While games like Stardew offered ‘leveling up’ of certain skills, My Time at Portia brings in a skill branch tree that covers the categories ‘battle’, ‘gather’ and ‘social’. So whenever you level up, you can choose a new trait like increasing chances of double looting, your tools doing more damage or even increasing how many relationship points you get by talking to someone. I’ve been waiting forever a game in this genre to implement something like this because it’s one more way to customize our character and who we want them to be so I was really excited about that.
Even though I was only playing an alpha version, I felt like there is still so much to learn about the game both concerning what you can do as a player and the lore of the story. There seems to be a debate on the use of technology going on by a group calling themselves The Church of Light and the scientists. There’s also talk of digging through ruins which I haven’t gotten to quite yet but keep meaning too!
One thing I really love about games like this are the sense that there’s a ton of stuff going on to keep me from boredom, while not making me feel pressured to complete it all ASAP. Despite the size of the world of Portia, it was really fun sometimes to just run around and explore all the different characters, materials and locations. I loved playing this snippet of what I’m sure is a game that will suck in thousands of more players just like me with it’s mysterious story and charming characters!