My Time at Portia starts off predictably when you disembark into its expanse of rolling hills and curious ruins. Like the Marvelous Interactive titles it clearly draws inspiration from (namely Harvest Moon and Story of Seasons), it sets you up with the holy trinity of prologues: a father, a child, and a ripe plot of land. As my tiny boat sailed into the equally tiny port of the city-state of Portia, I couldn’t help but look beyond the small town and toward a decrepit tower looming over its peaceful villagers;
I wanted to go there, and it didn’t take too long before I did. My Time at Portia is perhaps one of the most pleasant post-apocalyptic games out there, every part of it full of potential and an interesting sense of optimism. You’ll find it in the goals and accomplishments of its people, and in My Time at Portia’s design as a whole. It teases unreachable treasures off in the distance and lists items with parts I haven’t yet encountered, letting me know there is something new still waiting for me. After playing over 65 hours, I’m still finding more to explore and build in My Time at Portia. This town sim with an emphasis on building and resource management (and some RPG elements thrown in) is a fun adventure that, despite its flaws, I had a hard time putting down.
These monolithic reminders dot the various landscapes of My Time at Portia, and they’re an effective and unintrusive way to ensure you’re clued into the broader message around hubris leading to the apocalypse. It makes for an interesting plot device, which would be well-utilized if it went beyond making the world more visually interesting, or even beyond the inclusion of one faction of NPCs dedicated to keeping the town of Portia back in the comparative Dark Ages.
Instead, the majority of the experience remains relatively familiar and unbroken by a loop of crafting, fighting, and gathering missions. The crafting system is the game’s real treat, though. As the child of a master-builder, you’re given access very early on to plans created by your father. These plans function like crafting blueprints; they stay on your person as you romp around the world in search of materials, and you can easily refer to them and check exactly how much tin ore you need to convert into whatever arbitrary amount of bronze bars you need to prop a bridge up.
You’re also given the ability to use a crafting station back at your house which tells you exactly what you’re missing to build a particular item. There’s no need for guesswork, and you also get to visually appreciate the nitty-gritty of what you’re building as completing various parts of items sees them come to life before your eyes on the workbench.
However, while the crafting is robust and an essential part of your experience with My Time at Portia, the other integrated systems–relationship management, dungeoneering, animal husbandry, and farming–aren’t as engaging, fleshed out, or vital by comparison. Being able to gift your way to a perfect marriage does a disservice to some of the unique personalities that you can court, and you feel discouraged from spending time on farming because of how time-consuming and expensive it is to acquire enough land to turn those parsnips into a profit. The main story forces you to invest heavily in crafting and once you’ve tried your hand at the carpentry trade, it can be hard to look elsewhere when the demands of time and money limit your ability to engage in the other systems.
Min-maxing attributes is rarely the point of lifestyle sims, so it makes sense that rewards seem more like a little bit of gas in the tank rather than a whole new engine. But failing to actually use your skill points on anything is unlikely to disadvantage you at all, which cheapens the purpose behind giving you a mountain of options in the first place. Being a little bit more efficient at carrying out objectives in a game that’s all about repetitive grinding isn’t a bad thing, but you find yourself wishing that the improvements afforded to you were more significant for the time invested.
My time at Portia is, first and foremost, a game about building, and I’ve had a great time doing it. From mining to taming wild llamas to dating, there’s a lot to do here, and I’m still discovering and unlocking new and usually interesting things. While each of its parts is lacking in some way or have annoying audio bugs, when you put them all together they bolster each other to add up to something fun. I look forward to seeing how My Time at Portia continues to evolve in the future.
Your time at Portia is likely going to be an idyllic one, interspersed with chores and chatter and putting household items together for your neighbors. You’ll spend your time idly dangling your legs off the edge of the pier, participating in fishing tourneys, ushering in holidays with your partner, and fending off local wildlife. However, the ruins of a time long forgotten will always darken the horizon, and there’ll be a part of you that wonders what more there could have been before you find yourself shunted to the next life goal in a long series of life goals. That feeling is unfortunately hard to shake, and it’s a shame that there’s not as much to the world of Portia as first appears.
Video Game My Time At Portia Review :
User Rating :
– The Good:
+ Crafting system is streamlined, well-designed, and thoughtfully implemented
+ A wonderfully tranquil environment with a pleasing aesthetic
– The Bad:
+ A large number of systems don’t feel vital or meaningful
+ Conflicting pacing between the quick day-night cycle and crucial timed quests
+ Post-apocalyptic narrative sets you up for something that never eventuates
Mark : 6
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