So the apocalypse happened a few years ago and humankind has thinned out. It’s okay, though, because the industry still exists in some form and the humans that are left still have agriculture. Welcome to My Time at Portia, where you have inherited your father’s abandoned workshop. You gain the ability to craft, farm, fish, mine, raise animals and more.
The first thing anyone notices when booting up a game is what it looks like. This game features beautiful landscapes. There are creatively made creatures and enemies. Concept art of the land and characters also look great. But… The characters, in their final 3D forms, tend to be fairly ugly, unfortunately. It’s not so much “these characters don’t look anime-cute enough for me,” there’s something about the overall art style that doesn’t sit well with me.
This game was first released on Steam, so I was paying special attention to how the controls were ported from the getgo. Although there are definitely parts where it seemed as if a mouse would be the ideal controller, the Joy-Cons were utilized well. The controls are pretty easy to get used to, and the game offers reminders for screens that players may not be using as regularly (such as with buying and selling screens).
Then there is the story–it’s much deeper than a casual player might suspect. All I really knew going into My Time at Portia was that it was a farming sim. But along with the day-to-day farming tasks, there is a story in the backdrop. You can explore and learn about the broken world of humanity of day’s yore. You can innovate far beyond your early limitations, and you can even get a robotic helper who crash-lands from one of old humanity’s space stations.
It’s much deeper than what most farming sims, as much as I love them, have to offer. Many offer individual storylines or goals like proving you’re a good farmer in certain ways or getting married, but aren’t necessarily guided by something more than that, as fun as they are. The act of discovery and exploration colored this game for me, and it always felt like there was an incentive to continue playing.
This isn’t the only way it feels as if My Time at Portia consciously avoids tropes set by more famous farming sims series. One of the big pluses is how you interact with other characters. You can see and measure as you interact how your relationship with other characters change. Talking to them gives you a readout on how to interact as well, which means you don’t have to worry about accidentally launching gifts into the stratosphere.
Some other big pluses are the fact that the game is LGBT-friendly–something Stardew Valley has embraced but Story of Seasons or Harvest Moon probably won’t any time soon. Mining also felt very different in this game than in similarly styled games, and really captured the feeling of exploration.
Of course, not every conscious divergence worked perfectly and sometimes it felt like there were unnecessary reinventions of the wheel going on. Although logically it makes sense that individual items could be sold to specific stores, sometimes with great benefits, I still missed the simplicity of a shipping box I could just dump everything into.
The process of creating also frustrated me even though I got used to it. The player uses a worktable for some items and an assembly station for bigger projects. So you’re sometimes doing the smaller steps in the work station and running to the table to finish items up. It’s not the biggest deal, but it felt so grating to me that everything couldn’t be completed from one screen in one place.
Overall, I found My Time at Portia to be a pretty engrossing and enjoyable game. It is more involved than other farming sims I’ve encountered, so it sometimes felt much busier than others. This resulted in a game that often felt very fulfilling, but could be a little stressful at times. The story and more active task/commission system really makes this game stand out from other farming sims and seems like it would fill the needs of fans of said sims and fans of games more focused on creation perfectly.