(This is a good score from me)
Platform: PC, Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4, and Xbox One
Price: $30.00 (usd)
Release Date: January 15th, 2019 (PC) and April 16th, 2019 (Console)
Developer: Pathea Games
- Colourful, cheery art style
- Fresh concepts for town simulation games (relationship perks, relationship network, etc.)
- Lots to do (mining, farming, exploring, dungeons, etc.)
- House perks when you decorate (adds points to different stats)
- Skill Tree
- Weak ‘Play and Date’ gameplay
- Undefined personalities in quite a few characters
Genre-tags: open-world, simulation, crafting, casual, town-simulation
Game-blend it reminds me of: Animal Crossing: New Leaf (3DS), Stardew Valley (PC), Zelda: BOTW (Switch), Fantasy Life (3DS)
There’s a lot to do in Portia. Decorate and expand the house and workshop. Use planter boxes to grow different types of seeds. Slaughter the local llama population. Chuck down trees and devastate the agriculture. Fling your pickaxe at rocks scattered outside the city wall. Gossip, flirt and date with multiple Portians. Oh My…! Craft gifts to manipulate people into liking you. Mine resources inside the Abandoned Ruins and attack monsters in sewer-dungeons instead of enjoying the sunshine—I mean, how is that any different than what you’re doing in real life? Amazing and accurate life-simulation we have here.
I streamed some of my playthrough of My Time at Portia on my twitch channel but most of the time I enjoyed the game off-stream. It’s incredibly easy to get into and I spent quite a few nights stretched out on my couch playing. It was gifted to me by one of my community members—thanks again, Schwarez!
My days followed a similar path. Wake up, check on the fuel sources of my various workshop machines. Groan about my lack of Carbon Steel Bars (you need a ton and they’re slow to make). Make any items I need to for town members if I’ve run out. Umbrella’s for Gust, Tea Table for Gale, Talisman for Dr. Xu and Aadit, and so on. Run around town to get any commerce commissions on weekdays and do inspections on the weekend. Check the market prices. I wait till the market is up about 110% to sell goods I have, and I buy from the vendors when it drops. Hehe.
In a lot of games interaction with town NPC’s can be unrewarding. For example, Zelda: BOTW and the Harvest Moon series. In Zelda I would talk to a new townie once or twice to see their dialogue options and then never again. In Harvest Moon there is little benefit to becoming friends with the rest of the town beyond the romanceable options. Only talk to me if you want to fall in love. It’s all or nothing.
Refreshingly, My Time at Portia has incentive for interacting with a lot of the town outside of seeing romantic cut-scenes and courtship.
Mayor Gale’s friendship perks include some serious Gol discounts on land purchase! Land gets pricey and it’s completely worth it to make him daily Tea Tables. What does he do with the hundreds of identical Tea Tables I give him? Mystery lies at the heart of this game… perhaps there is a black market somewhere and he gets a much higher resale value than I do? Kind of hurts to be used. Although, to be fair, I’m using him too. Not every character’s friendship perks are as beneficial but becoming a buddy with the Portians unlocks their character backgrounds which are short but fun read-through’s.
Another detail of friendship-building is the relationship tree. If the player improves a relationship with one character (buddy to friend), for this instance Ginger—the player also gains relationship points for related characters Gale, Gust and Russo. This was something I didn’t know I absolutely needed till now in town simulation games. I’ve always been bothered by the fact you can be dating in-game and if you didn’t take the time to build relationship points with friends or their family members, they’d still treat you like a stranger for the most part!
For town-simulator games generally it’s a ‘plot not included’ adventure. While the plot for My Time at Portia isn’t riveting it is nice to see the genre attempt a story to move along with game progression. The Portian’s react to plot-based events with a change in their daily “default” response. They react to town improvements as well. If you put up Light Posts in the town, people will thank you! Indeed, I am the best. Thanks’ for taking notice you lazy bums.
Talking to various characters reveals information about Portia. The player can gather from those tidbits that a disaster took place many, many years ago. Something to do with robots and AI? I’m not sure yet. Side note, I love the take on post-apocalyptic that isn’t dark and dreary with their colour scheme.
I would organize play sessions with various townies. The social interaction requires at least two or more relationship hearts (become a buddy with the character). Unfortunately, the play/date system is boring for the most part due to the types of mini-games it offers.
I’d spend the hangout’s mostly talking under the wishing tree or going to dinner at the local pub. The “doodle” minigame is mind-numbingly boring. Pretty much you run around the sand in a given path to “draw”. The “Explore the Haunted Cave” is a kind of cute minigame shooter but again, it’s tedious, I wouldn’t want to do it often and it goes on for way too long.
I’m not sure why the minigames were designed like this or how they were let on through… Like I said I resort to chatting-only which reveals a few interesting facts about the characters but repeats pretty much every. single. time. –even when you progress through the relationship with the character from “Friend” to “Lover”. But the chatting option is easy get through the date and get those luxurious relationship points you’re after.
Portians are hit or miss for me. Some of them are great in design, personality and story and others feel dull and rushed. I find Mayor Gale quite likeable. He seems like he’s looking out for the Portia’s interests. Lee and Nora are an interesting duo who run the church. Nora seems more open-minded than Lee but they both come from a place of love. Martha is an interesting character who I hope gets more fleshed out as I get to know her. She’s a widowed business owner who took on her husbands’ debt. Feminism, y’all. Gust feels the need to be perfect after choosing to not inherit the town and pursue art instead. He comes off as snobby and egotistical, but Gust’s primary gifts help his younger sister, Ginger. While Gust isn’t entirely likeable, he has a distinct personality and look.
I wouldn’t call the characterization realistic or intriguing. It’s difficult to create genuine characters while also maintaining that casual and cartoon feeling, especially in a game with as many personalities. However, there aren’t enough people with interesting stories or motivations for me. I really hope they improve upon that—but it’s unlikely seeing that the game has had it’s full release.
Personally, I’m a fan of Arlo, Mint and Gust. I love the look of Aadit and Dr. Xu but they struggle to keep my interest because of their lack of personalities and interests.
Other character’s easily blend into the background—Tody, I’m looking at you. He is a sad sack of Gary-Sue without anything interesting to offer the game. He’s also plain and not attractive at all. Erwa, Sanwa, Siwa, Qiwa, Wuwa and Liuwa. Why? I don’t understand. Help me on this one. On one hand I love the fact that there is the option to date and marry non-standard design characters but why is there seven identical looking characters with identical personalities. It seems lazy instead of funny. Triplets would have left a humorous aspect without the laziness factor. Or if they’d taken the time to give them defined personalities. Or personalities that play off each other a little more. There was potential here (unlike with Tody).
Gust paints by the riverbed sometimes. Dr. Xu gathers herbs outside the city wall. Arlo goes jogging with the Civil Corps. Finding characters doing little things like this are details not lost on the experience and really make the game come alive. The game is (mostly) voice acted. There are some missing lines. The quality of the voice acting ranges a lot as well, Mint’s and Sophia’s voices are unpleasant. Which is frustrating because I plan on leaving Gust for Mint, but his voice is nasally and doesn’t match his characters Californian-engineer look at all.
Dailies in the game include resource gathering, checking on fuel for the workshop machines, fertilizing plants (if you don’t have a fertilizing system), collecting eggs and feathers from the Coop. There are Sheds for Cows and Stables for Horses, but I haven’t built those yet! I did Rent-A-Hose from McDonald’s farm for a while for 500 Gols a week. Made me feel poor in-game, can’t even own a horse in the Portian economy. Stuck to renting a horse. One day things will be different.
This game is an absolute grind. It requires a lot of time to do very little and yet I find these types of games rewarding and a lot of fun, but I know this style isn’t for everyone. I can’t explain why I love grinding and resource games that require the run-around, but I do.
Resource gathering plays a large role in the gameplay. A good portion of time is dedicated to getting wood, copper, iron, etc. to be made into fuel and other objects. The grind is simple. Walk up to tree and swing. Dive-roll to stone and shatter it. It’s non-complicated and can be a little boring but rewarding to come home with fat stacks of wood and other precious materials.
Surprisingly, there is a good amount of combat required in the game. In order to get certain resources, you need to engage sword-fighting. If you’re looking for difficult or unique combat My Time at Portia will leave you wanting more. I honestly don’t mind the combat system. I’ve always enjoyed simple combat that doesn’t take a lot of skill. I dub myself a hardcore casual-gamer. But it’s generally just running in and swinging. The monsters/creatures/animals don’t progress in accordance with the players level but instead by zone. It’s a good choice for a casual game like this one—I get better and better at decapitating the Mr. Ladybug’s and Colourful Llama’s. Faster and faster they fall to my blade. Gimmie gimmie your items.
Some of my favourite features of the game are the attention to detail for its genre. If you’ve played Stardew Valley you know the irritation of trying to move storage boxes around. It involved emptying the entire box into your inventory, moving the box and then adding it all back in—but generally there wasn’t enough room in your inventory to do it all in one go. The ability to rename storage boxes and move them around withoutemptying them first is such a relief. Not a game-defining feature, but certaintly fantastic to regulars of crafting genre. Also, amazingly—you can access ALL of your storage boxes by walking up to anyone of them. Wow. My life is full of miracles.
At the top of the storage box is a carrot < > which flips through the boxes and a drop down carrot to find a specific box even faster.
The Sort All Button is another great convience feature as it automatically sends all the items in your inventory to storage. If you have a Copper Bar in your inventory and a stack of Coppar Bar in storage it automatically stacks the Coppar Bar into storage. Revolutionary!
The developers of the game clearly understand the genre they’re catering to with these small, but convenient features. The game would be the same without them—but a little more annoying and time-wasting as you sort through all your boxes to organize them.
Overall, the game is an outstanding casual-simulation RPG. I’ve easily spent 60 hours and there is still so much for me to explore. I keep coming back to the game. My Time at Portia flows together consistently, and gameplay is connected. Going from mining to chopping to talking to residents is a cohesive experience. Some parts of the game didn’t receive as much attention such as the Play and Date system, a few level-design flaws (for example, Hazardous Ruins Level 4). For the most part though this is easily one of the best town-simulation games I have ever played.
Should you get this game? If you enjoy life-simulation games this is one of the best experiences offered and the price is decent for the amount of content offered in the game.
They’ve set up an amazing game foundation for expansion as well if Pathea Games wanted to add additional stories, characters, cut-scenes, dungeons, upgrades, etc. I know I’d love to see additional dialogue and quests for existing town members, additional friendship perks for residents with only a couple—doesn’t have to be major like large Gol discounts, but just a little something would be nice to keep up incentivization of getting to know the whole town.
I know I’d be looking most forward to them further developing stories and dialogue for Portian’s. Specifically, a lot of the bachelors and bachelorettes. I’d also love more customization options for the Workshop and ability to upgrade the town more—maybe even change its overall look?