This review is based on the EARLY ACCESS version of My Time at Portia. New features and improvements are added to the game at a steady rate. All opinions and experiences are based on the current version of the game. A full Review with a final score will follow once the final version My Time at Portia becomes available.
My Time at Portia is a game that is extremely difficult not to compare to games such as Stardew Valley, Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing.
The simulation RPG developed by Pathea games is a title that despite drawing comparisons to other games of the genre, manages to carve out its own unique experience that is certain to find a committed and hardcore fanbase. Despite only just releasing via Steam early access to the public, My Time at Portia is remarkably dense. Players can fish, farm, mine, build, converse with townsfolk, get married,fight bosses and traverse dungeons and with the game planning to remain in early access until fall of this year, it’s safe to say this isn’t all that players will be able to do.
The story begins with your character moving to the town of Portia to inherit your father’s decrepit old workshop in the hopes of restoring it to its former glory, it’s a simple premise that is short and sweet, quickly moving out of the players way to allow them to create their own narrative. Little tidbits of story regarding the world of Portia can be found if you look for them, and there are interesting side stories, such as the conflict between the Church and the Scientific Research Center.
The first thing you notice upon arrival is how beautiful and lively the the world of Portia is. The world of Portia is set in a post-apocalyptic future where human life is sparse and machines are simply relics of the past, but from how mystical and serene the world looks, it certainly doesn’t look like there has been an apocalypse. Portia is peaceful, colourful and beautiful in a way that reminds me of Studio Ghibli films such as Princess Mononoke and My Neighbor Totoro, with the world littered in lush forests with plenty of intriguing creatures that inhabit them. The attractive grassy landscape of Portia is juxtaposed by large monolithic structures that are remains of the old world. The music of My Time at Portia is also whimsical and calming, perfectly accompanying the tranquility of the games world. It’s truly an amazing and unique world.
If this isn’t beautiful, than i don’t know what is
The town of Portia is full of interesting people to interact, and it’s entirely up to you if you want to take the time to build relationships with people. Some days i’d opt out of interaction with the townsfolk to spend a day focusing on building tools for my workshop, and on other days i’d forgo my crafting endeavours to try and build up some rapport with whoever I encountered in the village.The freedom to interact with characters however you like is an aspect of the game that i really appreciate.
Character Interaction is broken up into 4 options, Chat, Gift, Spar and RPS (Rock Paper Scissors) with each offering a way to build a relationship with the people of Portia. Chatting, sparring and play Rock Paper Scissors will slightly raise your relationship level, with gifting being the main way to win someone over (because who doesn’t like a nice gift?). Each character has distinct likes and dislikes, meaning you need to experiment or determine from their personality what they might like. I wanted to win over the town cat Pinky so I gave her a fish, I wanted to win over the Major’s cute daughter Ginger so I made her a Parasol because i’d seen her out in town with one before. The relationship system in the game is simplistic, yet fun enough to do that it makes me actively seek out conversation with the characters i want to befriend. The residents of Portia also live out their days in town realistically. When it’s time for school, kids are scurrying to school, and when it’s early in the morning Martha who runs the town bakery manages to do her morning exercise before she starts work. Characters even attend town meetings and festivals.The attention to detail in each character is evident, and really adds to the idea of Portia being a realistic, functional town.
It appears I’m running late to the town meeting
When you aren’t chatting to people, you’re sure to be preoccupied by the rigours of running the workshop. My Time at Portia isn’t about the small satisfactions, it’s about working on the small incremental steps to achieve a well-deserved and rewarding goal. Much like other titles of a similar vein, most of your time in Portia will be spent grinding out what you need each day in order to complete commissions, which are essentially quests that can be collected from characters specifically, or via the commissions board in the Commerce Guild. Sure, some commissions can be achieved in a day, but most require a multitude of days of work, but the pay off for that hard work makes the gameplay loop extremely addictive.
I’ve never been a fan of having to methodically plan in games, but despite Portia requiring smart planning to ensure your days are well spent, I found myself rather comfortable and engaged with planning my days to be as efficient as possible. Most days will spent trying to mine as much ore as possible, while also making time to make efficient use of all the machinery at the workshop, such as utilizing the furnaces to smelt copper ore into copper bars or using the industrial cutter to ensure you have enough wooden boards. The mining despite being remarkably simple is really engaging, with plenty of resources to derive from Portia’s abandoned ruins. Simply whip out a pickaxe and mine whatever you like, or make use of your relic finder to find rare pieces of loot that remain from the old world.The fact that you can pick and choose how to approach each day in Portia is one of the games greatest strengths.
Mining is simplistic, but undoubtedly addictive
The games crafting system is multifaceted and despite being overwhelming at times, provides the player with a multitude of different things to create. The crafting in the early days is remarkably simple, but it quickly becomes far more intense. For example, to craft some of the game’s initial items, you simply need the items required and a single workshop table, however, as you complete commissions you are given lengthier and more difficult commissions that require the items to sometimes go through 3 different pieces of machinery.
Thankfully the crafting menus are simple to understand, but there are still some underlying problems. An issue I found was that you could accept commissions that require machinery that you do not own yet. This isn’t particularly a huge problem but it can easily lead to confusion as to why you can’t craft a particular item. Another minor gripe I have with the crafting is the timer on crafting items. It makes sense that in order to smelt ore into bars, that it may take some time, but as the game progresses to the point where you’re needing to manufacture dozens of bars for commissions, the time you have to wait starts to feel a little unnecessary, and it just lead to me putting my character to sleep to speed the in-game hours up. I may just be being extremely nitpicky, but I feel like this is something that should be fixed if possible in future updates. Regardless of the minor issues i find in the crafting system, i found the crafting in Portia constantly surprising me with the sheer amount of depth and options that it provides. Whether you want to build things for the Portian locals to make some money, or dedicate your resources to making a more efficient workshop, in the end it’s up to you.
Making sure to efficiently use your workshop machinery is the key to success!
My Time at Portia has all the trappings of a great simulation RPG, however, the game’s shortcomings become more evident the longer you spend in the world of Portia. For example, the game’s combat despite being rather fun with it’s simple hack n’ slash gameplay falls apart in the game’s dungeon sections. A combat system that feels great when there are one or two enemies falls apart when you are swarmed by numerous enemy types in the dungeons. The dungeon’s bosses also feel remarkably unfair, with the primitive combat leading to trial and error that saps the enjoyment from the dungeon crawling experiences. I still highly enjoyed delving into the dungeons however, with the highlight of the dungeons being the platforming segments that reward rare items for straying off the beaten path. I’m sure that the issues with the combat will be noted and fixed in due time, but as of right now, they can be a little frustrating.
Exploration is the highlight of My Time at Portia’s dungeons
My Time at Portia at the end of the day is a good game that has all the foundations laid to make it a great game as the title progresses through it’s early access period. Despite being room for improvement (mainly with the combat and crafting systems), My Time at Portia is an extremely addictive and enjoyable simulation RPG that I believe is already well worth the price of admission. The world is beautiful, the characters are varied and interesting in their own unique ways, and there are a multitude of things to do. It’s always hard to judge a title when it isn’t entirely finished, but I do believe My Time at Portia will progressively become a better game as it nears the end of it’s development. Developer Pathea games has already indicated that new areas, commissions, side quests and more will be coming throughout the rest of the games development cycle, they even plan to add the ability to raise and ride animals. With more content on the horizon, as well as hopefully fixes for some of the issues I raised in this review, It seems obvious that My Time at Portia is only going to become an even greater game. For those wanting to jump in now, the game is available via Steam early access, with the planned full release slated for PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 and Xbox One later this year.
To enter the giveaway make sure you like this post on Facebook and leave a comment to let us know you want the download code for My Time at Portia! Winners will be randomly selected on January 29th. Best of luck!
Big thanks to Team 17 for providing the download code for the EARLY ACCESS version My Time at Portia!