Pathea Games crafting sim is an adorable trip you’re going to want to live in.
My Time At Portia has only been on Steam Early Access for a week but in my circles at least, buzz has certainly been positive. Those who are deep in the lore of simulator / role playing games have been telling me that Portia has the potential to be something pretty special and so with a skip and a jump I thought I’d plunge in to see what all the fuss was about. And of course, with a release on Nintendo Switch incoming before the end of year, it always helps having a bit of a leg-up on Switch releases, considering just how many there are seemingly every week.
From the outset, My Time At Portia makes you smile. Its beautiful visual aesthetic (colourful and pleasant, much like switching on a new Animal Crossing game for the first time) eases you in to its rather complex RPG elements as you explore the glorious town of Portia and doesn’t let up the more you explore.
You’re set to work immediately in this joyful, Studio Ghibli inspired world, where you learn that you’ve inherited your father’s workshop from a letter you receive at the beginning of the game. You’re tasked with restoring the workshop to the standard it used to be in your fathers heyday, and as such you’ll be mining materials, crafting new items and getting to know the locals, where you can go fishing, fall in love or pick a fight if you really want to. There’s also mining where you can search for relics in the Ancient Ruins, but heading there requires you pay an entrance fee which takes a fair amount of work to reach so you’re going to want to to avoid heading down there until you really need too, as you’re going to need your stamina for earlier missions. Player progression feels a little harsh at first though once you can freely go in and out of the Ancient Ruins it begins to relax into a rhythm of solid reward for your efforts.
The Early Access version of the game currently available has a ton of content, up to ‘25 hours of content with more to come’, so you’ve got plenty to be getting on with before the full game even launches. There’s an awful lot of backstory to be caught up with and this is something that comes across from Portia’s townsfolk who all have an abundance of stories to tell. Learning the game takes place in a post-apocalyptic town where the remainder of humanity survives was a real wallop of a plot point that I wasn’t expecting, and encouraged me to learn more about the towns population and their own personal stories. Many have moved on and now live in the stories of Portia and its residents, and some are seemingly finding it difficult to forget what’s happened to them. The ongoing battle you learn of moving forward between two orgnisations known as the Church of Light and the Research Council to decide what to do with the discovery of ‘Knowledge’ you acquire and it’s up to you to decide which side you want to fight for.
Again in a rather Animal Crossing kind of way, all the villagers are friendly and readily help you piece together the stories of the apocalypse and what they can all do to help you progress. You have a menu of interactive options you can choose from when opening dialogue such as offering a gift or simply extending the chat to build relationships a little stronger to add to your inventory of friends you can build during the course of the game. You’ll also need to gather materials to build, chop trees, pick herbs, garden (there’s a lot of gardening) and more. There is a mighty grind effort at the beginning of the game to ensure you have sufficient resources, as building is a mightily important part of your experience with My Time at Portia, and its implementation is wonderful. Nothing ever feels overly complicated and is simple enough to create the majority of builds with little stress.
I’ve still got an awful lot more to see in My Time At Portia. I’ve hit around 15 hours so far and I don’t think I’ve played a game as simply pleasant as this one for a while. There were a few technical issues which I’m almost sure can be put down to either the Early Access of it all or the fact my little laptop just about had the capacity to run the game smoothly with little interruption. The loading times were significant, though again nothing that can be put down to the fact the game is still within in its development stage. That or my laptop sucks.
There are moments in my playthroughs where I started to feel sympathetic towards the townsfolk and the colourful brackdrop can make you easily forget that you’re in a post-apocalyptic setting. That’s something particularly unique about My Time At Portia, I heard to learn throughout my time with the game that it’s set after the destruction of a significant portion of humanity. It’s bewildering and something which makes the game stand out amongst its RPG peers.
So far, I’m having a rather lovely time with My Time at Portia. I appreciate how it’s trying to do something a little different with familiar genre mechanics and the welcoming warm surroundings ease you in and encourages you to explore. I’m looking forward to exploring more though I think I may hold off until I get my hands on the Nintendo Switch version. The idea of being able to play My Time At Portia whilst on the move and grind my way to turning Portia into my own little slice of post-apocalyptic paradise makes me excited to see its handheld release.
As it stands, there’s very little to mention that would deter you from visiting Portia, you may find your time there is just as delightful as mine has been.
My Time At Portia is available now on Steam Early Access and is coming to Nintendo Switch later this year.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this preview we were provided with code of the Early Access build from the publisher.