After countless hours of planting and farming crops in Stardew Valley, it is time for another agricultural sim. There was always something alluring in the premise of living your day to day life, harvesting crops and making friends by giving them fruits. Just like real life, except way easier (and giving all kind of fruits to random people will just make you seem like a weirdo). My colleague Jamie already did a preview some months ago and now it’s my turn to see what has changed (hopefully for the better!) and most importantly – is it any good?
You would never guess it from screenshots and promo videos, but My Time At Portia is actually set in a post-apocalyptic world. The whole world looks surprisingly pleasant and full of nature, despite what it went through. We have two “factions” known as Church of Light and Research Council that are fighting for control of the old world data that’s found in the ancient remains. And then, there’s you – harmless and innocent newcomer of Portia. Somewhat unaware (or maybe you just don’t care) of the power struggle, you arrive in this charming village on a mission to cut down plenty of trees, mine ores, make friends and maybe even fall in love. Or harvesting enough tasty fruit so that you don’t need friends or love anymore. Whatever works.
After some short tutorial-like quests, we are left on our own. From there, most of the progress is gained by accepting quests from townspeople and free exploration. You gain experience from quests and….pretty much every labor heavy activity. It might be from cutting down trees, mining rocks, fishing and so on. Everything you obtain that way is some sort of resource that can be used for making better tools, weapons and refining it into more valuable resources. There’s a lot to do and discover in My Time At Portia but you never really feel overwhelmed and bogged down with hundreds of quests on your to-do list. There is a sort of laidback atmosphere in the game that I haven’t found anywhere else. No missable events like in Harvest Moon, no quests to fail and no timer to hang over your head. “Take your time, my man….whenever you feel like it” should be a tagline for the game, possibly with a hippie dude on the logo smoking a mildly legal herbal substance. This is also why I don’t work in advertising. Another major thing in My Time At Portia is friendships and relationships with others. Every conversation with someone will fill up their bar (well, your mutual bar) that can be further boosted by giving them gifts, playing games or doing quests. Invest yourself seriously into it and some connections might lead to romance and even marriage.
Proceeding with the laidback feel of the game, the color palette of My Time At Portia is all soothing and vibrant. Even some deep dungeons ended up looking comfy. As for graphics, there isn’t much to say. You’ll spend more time admiring at beautiful landscapes rather than noticing any bloom, depth of field and lighting effects. On this aspect, the game has just enough to satisfy my basic standards and that is fine. The real hook is in the gameplay and that turned out way better than expected. If this is how a post-apocalyptic is supposed to look like, I say let it come. I wholeheartedly welcome that giant meteor or mutual nuclear destruction if this is what the end result will be.
As for sounds, the game features an enchanting soundtrack. While no tune particularly stands out, each plays as a perfect (puzzle) piece for the whole album. The notes are meditative and made to lure you as far as possible from Portia as you explore. Might as well check out what’s over that tiny slope while my favorite tune plays. One thing that stood out is a weird default setting in volume. The soundtrack is either needlessly loud or your character voice is needlessly low. Either way, it always felt like I was being super shy and quiet when talking to other villagers until I tinkered some with volume sliders.
My Time At Portia is a perfect game for the spring season. If the work is preventing you to get some sun and see new places, this game has it all and you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your home! Joking aside, there is a perfect mix of exploration and adventuring to scratch that Harvest Moon itch. The difference is that this game puts way less pressure and expectations on the player and lets them do everything at their own pace.
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