As of late farming style simulation games have taken up an increasing presence in the gaming world. Following on from the ever successful and nostalgic games such as Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon and more recent titles such as Stardew Valley. Some new runners have been overshadowed while others have really stood on their own merit and captured a new audience as well as retaining an original fan-base. At surface level My Time at Portia, developed by Pathea, appears to be just another commonplace addition, but, it soon becomes apparent why this game strives to bring something new, and a refreshing sense of freedom, which is much appreciated.
It’s always well received to be greeted with a character customization screen and My Time in Portia has a nice well-rounded system. You are not provided with an overwhelming amount of options and styles, but just enough to make your character your own. I did however find the color picker a little difficult to navigate and it seemed as if it would have been much better suited to the PC rather than the console.
Echoing the story of many comparable titles, you arrive in a post-apocalyptic world to take over the running of a workshop left by your father. The workshop has deteriorated after being left empty for quite some time and it is now your task to restore it to its former glory. Your new town and its inhabitants also need help to fully rebuild by uncovering and crafting with relics of the past. However, firsts thing first, it’s time to meet your new neighbors and explore your new surroundings.
Portia is a vibrant little town filled with animated NPCs which you can befriend by engaging in conversation, playing a game of rock paper scissors, gift giving and even sparring. It promptly becomes apparent that not one gift fits all and you will need to spend time getting to know the wants and needs of each character. The gifting mechanic can be a little frustrating at times as the trial and error in gift giving can really set your relationship building back by simply offering the wrong gift. Growing personal relationships can ultimately result in marriage, granting you with respective perks and an extra pair of hands to assist around your workshop if you so wish.
There are many stores and businesses in Portia but the commerce guild will regularly provide commissions for you to undertake. Sometimes these commissions are seemingly insignificant and but other times they have more of a wider impact on the surrounding world. Your local villagers may also approach you with more personal quests; you will be rewarded for your time and increase your standing within the community. Successfully completing these commissions and quests will increase your position in the local workshop rankings. If you continue to be a success, in due time, you will find your workshop at the very top.
Your workshop provides you with the basic tools and land to get you started in undertaking the commissions and quests provided to you. At your workshop you can find a workbench that is used for crafting smaller household items and weapons and assembly stations where you can assemble larger items and new workstations. You are also provided with and assembly booklet which illustrates useful diagrams and outlines the necessary materials and where to find them. Over time if you gain enough resource and currency, these elements within your workshop can be upgraded to unlock new crafting items. Initially I was a little overwhelmed by the scope of the crafting system as it is made up of many different components. Though, after crafting my first few larger items I became more accustomed to its way of working, but for some, it may just take a little getting used to.
One of the areas that sets this game apart from some of the other similar sims is the implementation of an experience tree. The skill tree contains 3 areas to input points from raining your level, these areas are battle, gather, and social. Each time you level up you gain one skill point to put into the area of your choosing. It’s not possible to gain enough points to fully level up every skill area but the tree can be reset by getting an acupuncture treatment from Phyllis in the Clinic.
My Time at Portia runs on a daily and seasonal cycle, the game is saved each time you sleep in your workshop bed. A setback to this is not being able to stay up all night as the game forces you to sleep at 3am. If you are still out exploring you will black out and then find yourself in your bed the next day. The in-game calendar runs on a spring, summer, autumn, and winter cycle and each season contains 28 days and within this, events such as festivals and tournaments persist.
During my gameplay I only ever experienced very minor character placement glitches and I did also find that loading times were somewhat lengthy. Comparable to the scope of the game these are only very minor concerns and had very little impact on the overall experience. The graphics are vibrant and absolutely charming, from the lush green fields, towering mountains and the colorful woolly Llamas that greet you when you arrive. I don’t think I have ever come face to face with a cane carrying, top-hat wearing ladybug in a game before, but, it really does contribute to the magic of Portia.
The audio is one area that I feel lacks some depth and does let the game down a little. The main line background soundtrack is nice overall but is hindered by an overall lack of ambient sound. There is a distinct lack of character sounds or even environment and footstep sound. It’s incredibly easy to sink many hours into My time at Portia, with freedom to create your own experience and with a plethora of quests to complete, the possibilities almost seem endless. It’s all down to the player to decide how they want to spend their time, farming, mining, building and questing, there is never a lack of things to do in this charming and well-rounded addition to the simulation genre.
Despite that some aspects of the game are either overwhelming, or, not wholly refined, My Time at Portia is a solid addition to the life simulation genre. There’s heaps of gameplay depth to soak up and enjoy, with no shortage of variation present to keep things fresh and entertaining. Whilst it pales in comparison to the likes of Animal Crossing, it certainly offers plenty of distinction and gets enough right to stand in a spotlight entirely of its own.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.