Title: My Time At Portia
Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch (All console versions release in fall 2018)
Developer: Pathea Games
Genre: Simulation, Crafting, Building
Official Site: http://portia.pathea.net/
Release Date: January 23, 2018 (Early Access)
Where to Buy: Steam
You might think that My Time at Portia looks like a bit of a clone of games like Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing, or Stardew Valley. You would be right. However, it does manage to capture the elements of what makes those games so successful and, even in very Early Access, has plenty of personality and things to do.
Rather than a total farming sim, My Time at Portia puts you in the role of a builder in a small, coastal town. Your father left you a workshop in the town of Portia, and, after arriving by boat, you quickly get to work collecting supplies and building around town. You can grow crops, build furniture, forge relationships, fight enemies, and basically futz around without adhering to any specific element of the story.
Although My Time at Portia looks and feels bright and cheery, there is more to the world than there originally seems. It is actually set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity’s use of technology caused the downfall of regular civilization. In observing the landscape around the town of Portia, giant towers are falling into ruin as nature overgrows and reclaims them, and the Church of Light (Portia’s dominant religion) teaches that any technology is evil and might destroy the planet. Having not gotten completely through the story, I am not sure just how much this dark undercurrent plays out, but it is intriguing.
The core component of the game revolves around building things in your workshop. It starts simple: pick up some stones and branches around your home, make an axe and pick, and start collecting bigger supplies. A message board in town gives you contracts you can take, which nets you money and experience to take on bigger jobs. Like many crafting games, there is a fair bit of wiki searching involved, especially in the early going. And it is not long until the grind begins.
After the early tool building mission, you then build a furnace. It only takes a few more supplies and teaches you the basics of scaffolding to complex builds. Your third mission, however, is to build a bridge. In order to do that, you need to build three other machines to cut boards, smelt ore, and the like. Then you have to go hunting through the ruins to collect your raw materials. In order to get into the ruins, you need gold. So you take a few small jobs. Once you have collected the materials from the ruins, you can build the bridge, right?
You then have to take the various raw materials to your different machines, crafting pipes, blades, etc. These machines also need fuel. You will probably need upgraded tools to harvest more raw materials. That will take more machines. And every time you are upgrading basic resources to something of a higher quality, it takes several minutes to complete the task.
There is a lot of grind. And sometimes that’s great.
Setting your furnace to smelt a bunch of copper ore into bars gives you time to go run around the charming little town. There are all sorts of cool places to explore and, as you advance the story, new areas with special materials begin to open up. There is a lot to do, and no definitive “do this, then this, then this.” My Time at Portia gives you a lot of options and, essentially, free reign to tackle it however you want.
Other times, that grind can get irritating. Sometimes, I would grab the supplies out of my machines, set them to craft more, and go directly back to bed. It takes quite a bit of time to make anything of substance, and it can test your patience on occasion.
Otherwise, the world of My Time at Portia is great. There are tons of people to talk to, lots of unique buildings and areas to explore, and a nice, forgettable soundtrack, perfect for wandering. It is a great example of a “just one more turn” game, as every time you go to bed, the morning will introduce new quests, new options, and new builds to create.
The game is still in very Early Access. Pop-up is a major issue, as sometimes items just a few feet away from me would randomly appear/disappear. On occasions, there was some serious slowdown occurring. There are still lots of problems with text bubbles not displaying correctly. And some of the load times seem a lot longer than they need to be. These are all fairly expected of a game still in as early a state as My Time at Portia, and there was nothing game breaking here. But, if you want your games to be a bit more polished, you might want to give this one a bit more time in the oven.
Verdict: Overall, My Time at Portia is a charming grind. There are a lot of things that can test your patience, but the world, its characters, and its fascinating story are all a blast. If you’re looking for a new Animal Crossing to take over your time, this is a pretty strong pick. We will have a full review when the game is closer to its full release.