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My Time at Portia is a vastly open life simulation game that takes inspiration from classic games of the like. As one who has just taken over their Pa’s old workshop and handbook, it is up to you to restore it to its former glory. Farm crops, craft in the workshop, tend to livestock and explore the expansive open world to gather the resources you’ll need during your time at Portia.

Gameplay

My Time at Portia offers a plethora of gameplay options, providing a myriad of gameplay opportunities. Just like many other games of the genre, grow and tend to crops, craft items, raise animals and see to day-to-day tasks; but on the contrary, My Time at Portia offers a sprawling open world that’s packed with things to do.

Unlike a lot of relaxing simulation games that My Time in Portia is inspired by, there is combat. However, this feature feels tacked on and it’s very frustrating when you die as you return to that morning losing all of the progress that you had made throughout the day. That being said, there are boss fights which present a good deal of challenge.

At the cost of the combat, we feel that many crucial quality of life staples are absent from the game. Managing your items is cumbersome and awkward. Also, if you abandon an item, it doesn’t just drop on the ground like most life simulation games. Instead, it disappears entirely. However when it comes down to it, these aspects simply become a matter of growing accustomed to how the game’s mechanics work.

The crafting is simple once you get the hang of it. It’s convoluted at first, especially when you get a look at that handbook, but it quickly becomes second nature to the player. There’s a wonderful sense of satisfaction when you craft something new with the materials that you’ve collected yourself.

As you start to craft and fight, you begin to accumulate experience points which help you to level up. Each time you increase a level, you gain a skill point which allows you to level up one attribute under the headings Fight, Gather or Social. This RPG addition to My Time at Portia opens up new possibilities to the way that you wish to play the game.  

Loading times are quite long, and they come up more often than you’d think. we almost felt discouraged going into buildings simply because we didn’t want to sit around waiting. They were improved upon in a pre-release update, however they’re still longer than we’d like them to be. The gameplay is relatively smooth but we did notice some infrequent frame-rate dips here and there. Once again, they were improved upon in the update, but further improvements would be ideal.

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Despite all of the negativity listed above, the pace of My Time at Portia is well done and it tends to flow quite well once you get the hang of how simple mechanics work. Also, the sheer majesty of the game sucks you in and you’ll vastly enjoy your time spent in Portia.

Story

My Time at Portia begins with you seeing to the restoration of your Pa’s old workshop with the help of his old handbook. As far as standing on its own merit goes, My Time at Portia seems to want to steer into the old cliche; but as the old saying goes: if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

My Time at Portia is a very slow starter. If you’re one who tends to put down a game if they’re not drawn in immediately, then perhaps shelling out for this one may not be the wisest decision. But if you can get through that initial hurdle, My Time at Portia is a deeply rewarding experience that you can easily sink dozens of hours into.

There are many instances throughout the game where a short cutscene is triggered. Whilst these are a pleasant little addition, they too feel like they have been tacked on. The cutscenes themselves are very short and leave us wondering why they have been included at all.

Villagers and NPCs are integral to this genre’s staying power as you begin to grow emotional attachments. Unfortunately, this is an aspect where My Time at Portia does not shine. Every NPC comes across as generic and lifeless – we didn’t really care for what any of them had to say.

World Design

My Time at Portia has a world that you just want to explore. The open world is packed full of various landmarks and NPCs to talk to. Whilst we wouldn’t compare it to Breath of the Wild in its scope and vastness, it has the same effect where no matter where you look, you’ll find something to check out.

The main village is well designed and easy to navigate through, making the experience seamless and intuitive. There are a lot of new areas to unlock as you proceed through the game, providing that wonderful feeling of progression.

Graphics / Art Direction

The art style for My Time at Portia is beautiful and easy on the eyes. It’s fantastic being able to see far off into the distance at any given moment, reinforcing the grandness that the game has been praised for.

My Time at Portia is aimed to be a relaxing experience, which is demonstrated by its art direction. The colours are soft, making long play sessions less of a chore. The world is so easy on the eyes that soaking in its majesty comes naturally.

Music / Sound Design

The soundtrack is calming and homey, with a wide variety of instrument families beautifully played in soft cohesion. It’s exactly what you’d want from a game such as this. The main town’s theme has a beautiful blend of stringed and wind instruments working in perfect harmony with each other. It certainly captures the mood incredibly well.

However, the soundtrack can get quite repetitive after a while as we’ve noticed that it doesn’t seem to change when going from the town to the open plains. The track change only occurs once a loading screen appears, most commonly being when you enter a house/building, and during combat.

Final Score: 82%

My Time at Portia is a relaxing game that does justice to the life simulation genre that it is inspired by. However, aside from the open world, it doesn’t do much to stand out amongst the rest. That shouldn’t take away from what My Time at Portia succeeds at. Simply put, if you’ve had a hard day at school/work and need something to wind-down with, My Time at Portia may well be what you’re looking for… until Animal Crossing comes out.

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Posted by Rachelle Suri-Tucker