April 16, 2019
Anyone who knows me knows that when Stardew Valley hit consoles a few years ago, I became a wee bit obsessed with it. I even declared myself "The King of Stardew" around the office - true story - so when My Time at Portia landed here a few weeks back, it felt like my second calling had arrived.
My Time At Portia is effectively 3D Stardew Valley, where instead of being a farmer, you're an inventor, an engineer, a creator. That's the game in a nutshell, and like its inspiration, My Time At Portia has an incredible amount of depth and a staggering amount of things for players to do.
In similar fashion to Stardew, players arrive in Portia in the shadow of a family member, an uncle in this case, as you look to restore pride to the family name and return it to its once lofty heights. As a creator in Portia you'll spend your time completing commissions for the locals, rebuilding the eponymous town and expanding your workshop.
You can spend your time monster hunting in old abandoned ruins, mining for ore in the local cave, talking with the locals (while getting involved in the town's regular events), fishing, cooking, chopping down trees, helping around town, you can even do a little farming if you like - although nowhere near to the degree that Stardew let you. You're never short of things to do in Portia.
One of the things that made Stardew such a success was its cast of supporting characters and Portia is no different. In fact, it's probably a cut above. Portia is a town that is surrounded by ancient mechanical relics of the past, it's a town that is battling with the whole science vs. religion debate, but at no point is it forced down your throat.
There's a local newspaper, a museum that you can help to rebuild, there are characters who have secret crushes on one another, one mysterious inhabitant who's suffering with a medical condition that you can befriend and help, there's a couple of wise-guys and there's even a proper school and police station of sorts, all of which are run by an interesting cast of characters. Every minute we spent in Portia was a complete unadulterated pleasure.
Mechanically, My Time At Portia is solid, but unfortunately there is a lot of waiting around for resources to finish their production cycle. That in part is Portia's biggest issue. In Stardew you always felt their wasn't enough time in the game and you never felt like you had to kill time, whereas Portia's hooks just aren't as enticing or rewarding as Stardew's. The instant gratification is there when you create a large part for, say, rebuilding a bridge to the desert, but on the whole a good portion of My Time At Portia is spent killing time waiting for your materials to pop from their relevant tool benches, cutters, furnaces and so on.
It's probably my only real major complaint with Portia, but it's an aspect of the game that doesn't take too much away from the experience itself. Sure, there are a few bugs here and there, some weird silent cutscenes and some really 'meh' mini-games, but you can't really knock the game as a package. It's good wholesome fun, that's a truly cathartic experience.
You could argue that My Time At Portia is a shameless Stardew clone, but having spent a ridiculous amount of time with it so far, I'd have to say it's more than that. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and My Time At Portia is different enough to be its own beast. While the gameplay beats might not be as addictive as Stardew Valley and there’s a touch more waiting around, it’s not like you’re ever short of stuff to do in My Time At Portia. Buy it, play it, and give your soul the relaxation and wholesome fun that it so very much deserves.
Wonderful, absolutely wonderful musical score, but a bit weird to have silent cutscenes.
Colourful, vibrant and beautifully picturesque. It’s terribly rough around the edges, though.
Easy to control, from the combat to the mining, which is all you could ask for from a game of this ilk.
A huge open-world with plenty to do, chock-full of unusual characters. The gameplay loops aren’t as enticing as Stardew and there’s a lot of waiting around, but it’s still a well-crafted game.
A solid list that rewards completion and acts perfectly as breadcrumbs to experience the best of what Portia has to offer.
My Time At Portia is one of the most wholesome, relaxing and chilled experiences of this generation. It’s the perfect post-Sekiro experience, with a cast of wonderful characters, and a beautifully picturesque world with tons of activities to occupy your time. Sure, it’s very much like Stardew Valley, but the emphasis on engineering over farming makes it its own beast. The loops might not be as alluring as Stardew’s, but it’s game that you won’t regret playing, and will satisfy your inner soul.