We could all use some nice time to relax now and then. For some, that means spending time with a good book. For others, that means shooting lots of pixellated bad guys. However, for me, nothing beats spending hours upon hours chopping down trees to contribute to a virtual farm. Seriously, if you saw how many hours I invested in Stardew Valley you’d seriously question what I was doing with my life. So that’s why when I saw My Time At Portia I decided it was time to get my virtual hands dirty and dig in.
For those who have never heard of it, think of Stardew Valley mixed with Breath of The Wild. It borrows a lot of the aesthetic from BoTW and kinda makes you think this is what would happen if Link decided to settle down. There’s plenty to do from cutting tress to mining and farming. However the main focus of the game is crafting. You’ve been given a workshop from your Pa in the town of Portia and have taken it upon yourself to become the number one builder. You’ll be given commissions to build to improve the town and gradually build up your reputation and your arsenal of tools.
A Work In Progress
Now, I’m going to warn you, there are a lot of things to be improved upon here. The game is still in Early Access after all. However, one thing I will say is that there is a huge amount of potential here and it seems the developer is more than willing to listen. From the disclaimer upon launching the game asking for feedback to the phone booth in the town square with a message from the developer, they are doing everything possible to make this game the best they can for players, which i cannot commend enough. If you want proof, at th time of writing, the game has been out roughly a week and we’re already on patch 4.8 and the quality of life is already improving. So for the points below, take them with a grain of salt because I doubt they’ll be around forever.
As far as your immersion goes, I enjoy the town of Portia and the people living in it. Once more stories are implemented I think we’d have a lot of fun settling in. However, I can’t let the voice acting here have a pass because wow, that sucks me out of the story. Not every performance is bad.
However, it seems like Portia cannot decide where it’s meant to be. I’ve never seen such a mish-mash of accents in a single spot. The honorable knight running the local tavern is a cowboy, his barmaid sounds like a Northern Irish girl trying to do “Valley Girl” and there are a bunch of fisherman with clearly Chinese names with the thickest London accents I’ve heard in some time. Seriously, they don’t need to all sound the same, but pick a single country at the very least. Also, seriously, get rid of the valley girl because I don’t know if you’ve ever heard it with a Nordy twang, but it’s not good.
Pressures Of Work
One of the major downfalls I found in the early stage of the game is the feeling of being pressed for time. For your first few missions after you’ve built the bridge, there’s a big sense of “I have to get this done, it’s taking too long, this is stressful” and I think it’s overall down to the fact the game includes an enemy NPC. I’ll give you an example:
One of the first missions involves the town commissioning five new transports. These commissions can be taken one at a time until all 5 are complete. However, it’s not just you able to take the commissions.
While you’re struggling to build your first one, the enemy NPC, Higgins, is blasting his way through his. And some of you might say “Fine, I’ll just work faster” but that’s a slippery slope. When I say you’re struggling to build the first commission, I mean it! Not only do you have to learn a new recipe, which takes time in itself, you have to build new tools with which to make parts for the new recipe, unlock new areas to find materials and still take on other commissions to earn money. So while you’re doing all of that just to prepare this one transport, you can see the other commissions slowly disappearing from the board until you literally have no way of catching up.
And that’s the nail in the coffin for a game like this. Simulation games are largely used as an escape from everyday life. No one wants to go home from a huge work deadline to be met with another one in the virtual world. So when you have to collect 5 iron ore to melt 1 iron bar which will take about 4 hours and the recipe says it needs 10 iron bars, you can imagine the stress will start to set in.
Work It Out
In my opinion they need to either make the other builder a lot slower or at the very least wait until you have the necessary stuff unlocked before giving you these quests. Because if the NPC builds a transport in 7 days and I have to wait at least 5 of those just making a forge in order to start the damn thing it’s kinda hard not to feel cheated out of a fair shot. Also worth mentioning is that shortening the craft times on certain items would do a world of good. There are a fair amount of times when I’ve put in my ore for the night, gone to bed and woken up with only 3/10 bars done. And we’re not even talking about the high-end stuff here, it’s copper, literally the weakest material!
All in all, I really love the idea of My Time at Portia. It’s got a great aesthetic. I’ve sunk plenty of hours in and it can go very far to becoming a contender in the line of Harvest Moon inspired games. However, definitely keep watch on the development cycle as changes are made. In time I have no doubt we’d get a polished, fun little escape. For now, let’s just focus on getting out of Early Access territory.
If you’d like to try out My Time At Portia it is currently available on Steam, with plans to move to PS4, Xbox One and the Nintendo Switch later on.