Ever consider yourself a miner, a boxer, a builder, a farmer, a relationship expert or an expert of any such non-typical life skills for a video gamer? Perhaps you’re none of these and secretly desire to want to excel in any of these areas and more? Ever thought about trying a sandbox life simulation RPG like Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon and haven’t yet? Perhaps China-based developer Pathea Games and publisher Team17 Digital has the answer you’re looking for in My Time At Portia. This wonderful life simulation game finally sees itself expanding its reach from Steam PC (released in January) to the three major consoles today. This is our Nintendo Switch review of My Time At Portia.
My Time At Portia does have a background story that goes somewhat like the following. You are summoned to the enchanting town of Portia through correspondence with your estranged Pa. In Portia, you’re essentially asked to start a new life and begin work on restoring your Pa’s neglected workshop to its former glory. You’re only equipped with a deed, your Pa’s workshop handbook and workbench. You’re welcomed to Portia as the newest “builder”.
Overall, if you’re new to these type of games, My Time In Portia is a sandbox RPG where you can partake in crafting, mining, farming, building relationships, raising animals, fishing, even “boxing” if you’d like. And if any of those sound boring there’s always PvE combat to partake in with your own crafted weapons if you choose. All of these activities do come with some caveats. First, all of this takes place in “real time”, i.e. you play within a simulated time, day, month and year cycle. You also have your own stamina to manage and replenish either by eating and or resting, i.e. sleep.
So Much To Do, Where Do I Begin?
While the game is, for the most part, a sandbox game it does provide some nudging with story quests and visual cues to help move you along. There are optional work requests to partake in and visual map cues that indicate “hey, this might be someone worth talking to”.
One of the biggest challenges is trying to do all you want to do before the day runs out, not that there’s a penalty. For example, crafting in this game is not an immediate turnaround like other games. A lot of things require a certain amount of “in-game time” to pass to complete. So time management and multi-tasking come into play here as well. While you’re waiting on copper bars to be smelted you can decide to go fishing or gathering, as a loose example.
People, Places And Games
There’s also a social simulation game within as talking to villagers, who seem to run around a lot, yields you relationship points with a given NPC. You can also do things like play a game of “Connect 5” with certain NPCs for rewards or even spar (i.e. arena styled fighting) with other NPCs that walk the streets. Heck, you can even gift things to NPCs just in case you’d like to romance an NPC. You’ll also receive old fashioned mail notifying you of in-game events at certain times like a fishing derby. Don’t want to forget about a forthcoming town hall meeting? Then jump to your calendar screen and set a reminder!
Also within My Time At Portia is a vast and fulfilling crafting game as you build furnaces and grinders, for example, that require more than one type of material. You can of course build furniture and find furnishings that actually are worth using. For example, a few wall clocks found while mining give you health points when the clock is hung in your home.
A lot of time initially is spent looking through your Pa’s assembly blueprints which are really well done. The only minor quibble is when you do start assembling things like workstations, the current material must be in your hotbar and selected. This means merely having “copper bars” in your inventory isn’t enough. Speaking of inventory, you are initially given a certain amount of space which you then need to spend “gols” (in-game gold) to unlock more inventory space. Surprisingly, encumbrance didn’t seem to be a thing here.
What Do You Wanna Do With Your Life Mister?
Your character will also rise in level, but with some many things to do, you’ll forget about levelling all together. As you level you earn skill points which you can use to open up skills in one of three distinct skill trees. You can become a more proficient fighter, crafter/gatherer or “social specialist”.
As far as how the console version compares to the mature PC version, features wise, it is worth mentioning that the developer did let us know that they still have a post-launch update planned around two-three weeks after today. This update adds in some more story missions (set after the final battle), side quests, family features and some fixes and additions that were added after the final PC launch earlier this year.
There isn’t a terrible lot to complain about in “Portia”. It’s worth noting a few minor performance issues, mostly to get into the game and a few things like sluggish inventory screen display when performing actions like gifting. Nothing that really got in the way of normal gameplay.
My Time In Portia retails at $29.99 USD at launch day and for the price there really are a lot of things to do that makes you feel like you got your entertainment value here!
Note: Our copy was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by PR.