I keep coming back to this review and having to change the hours played on it. My Time At Portia is a Early Access game that I picked up on Monday and have honestly been obsessed with since.
If that isn’t going to tell you all you need to know I don’t know what will.
EDIT : I thought I had published this and went and played another 5 hours of the game SOME of the things I talk about I already NOW know the answer to so like I’m not changing it because I’m lazy and it was meant to be out 5 hours ago but also I know a 5 hours more knowledge then I did when I wrote it.
Let me get this straight first. You all know I like Early Access games, I love watching them grow, I like seeing new things added and it become a full game. I don’t just go out and buy whatever Early Access game I see, I do look at reviews and what they’ve already put into it or the discussion forums first and make a decision based on it. My Time At Portia had mainly glowing reviews with the only problem being that you have to grind for levels to get the materials to move on the story, that itself didn’t seem too much of a problem for me.
Personally I was surprised by just how good the game was when I started playing it. Staxel, which I didn’t mention when reviewing is a Early Access game too, which is similar FELT like it needed more work done, I was happy to have had a discount on it because I didn’t feel I’d get my money’s worth of entertainment out of it. I reviewed it after 2 hours because that was literally all I could take of it before I had to turn off. My Time At Portia is worth every penny and if a single thing is never added to it I feel I personally will still get a good 100 hours of game play out of it.
Early Access isn’t as terrible as some people make out, sure some aren’t great and others are better but you take that risk and My Time At Portia is a game I think you can risk it on.
So the game itself?
Again like Staxel its a bit of all those genres I love. Stardew Valley meets Harvest Moon meets Animal Crossing. Instead of a farm though you have a workshop and you work commissions building things for the city at large or the NPCs within the city. As you go along you unlock extra areas to explore and new materials to harvest. It does what Stardew Valley did best and incorporates a lot of different gaming styles into one compact little game, just unlike the charming 8 bit graphics of Stardew its a breathtakingly beautiful 3D world you are working in. I’ve spent time when I just didn’t have much else to do just looking out to the sea and watching the sky slowly turn from bright blue to a pinkish colour and the stars starting to peak out. It is cartoonish, not reality based graphics, but it will take your breath away. The distance you can see as well just makes it all the more impressive, structures seem to rise so far into the sky its unbelievable.
So the workshop stuff is pretty easy when you get used to it but there is also farming when you unlock the planter boxes which is pretty much straight away, there is mining, so far in two different caves one that produces Copper and Tin and the other Iron and Lead as well as Relics, fighting/hunting, I say hunting because you need to harvest fur from the Llamas and I wouldn’t really call it fighting, you have the Hazardous Mines to fight through with strange creatures aplenty. There is also fishing though I have found it pretty difficult to fish so haven’t really done it and questing for the NPCs, oh and of course there is dating but it unlocks after you upgrade your house which I haven’t done yet or if it unlocks before then I just haven’t had time to foster any kind of relationship with a villager yet.
Its pretty action packed.
Personally I love questing. Its why I haven’t explored the NPCs or anything like that because I’m too busy going from mission to mission building, fixing and trying to help as best I can. If that isn’t for you there isn’t a time limit on the main quests and you can take it easy doing what you want to do.
Its easy to play with control prompts all the time so you’ll be able to come back to the game after not playing for a while and not need to button bash to remember how to do things. It plays perfectly on keyboard but for some reason the A button on my control doesn’t actually work in game, it just makes me move left instead of interacting with anything. I don’t know if that is just my controller taking a turn for the worse or a actual bug but its annoying that I can’t play with my controller at times.
Negatives I have, and there aren’t many…
NPC quests. Other then commissions you do get some through the post or people just walking around with a blue speech bubble above their head who want help. There isn’t enough of that though. You can only take one commission at a time and pick one up a day and it would be nice to be able to have small quests sent through the post or personal quests to do whilst you work towards the commission or after you’ve completed it.
For example I had a quest to deliver milk for Sophie and one to help pick up stray chicks for Emily. They don’t require building, are fast little quests that I can do whilst my workshop is busy making materials and helped me meet other people and gain friendship with them. There are a few “hidden”, for lack of better term, quests like when I attempted fishing by the docks and picked up a ring instead and had to find who it belonged to or the letter telling us about Saiwa’s colour blindness, later on I found glasses that turned out to correct colour blindness which meant he could go back to being a hairdresser. Its little moments like that I really enjoy but they don’t come often enough. OK I also have one I’m stuck on at the moment, I need the cooking kit which I unlocked just before I went to bed last night before I can clear it and maybe that is what is stopping any extra quests popping up but it would be nice to have at least one random quest every other day.
Events are lacking. They had one in the Spring where you had to supply a present and they were dropped out of a airship and you could run around collecting them but that really is the only event so far. There are meetings you can attend but they tend to happen when something new in the main quest is unlocked.
I’d like at least one big event per season but it would also be nice just to have a few more mini-events happen in the town. For example the church of Light people set up shop by the fountain once a week, whilst one preaches the other mains the shop. Why not have a farmers market maybe once a month? Or a town fate? There is also a lot of space outside the town so I don’t see why they can’t use that to have a one day event outside. I haven’t got to winter yet so don’t know if they have a Christmas type event but it would be nice if they had like a giant party outside and if there is snow maybe a snowman building competition or something. You can use the building mechanic to make it and maybe a small scavenger hunt around the city the day before or something for materials to design one.
Basically at the moment I had one month where I thought it took all the best parts of Stardews event stuff and made it better. Obviously because of the difference in graphic style it was nice to feel so involved going to a meeting or chasing the presents with the other villagers. Since then though I’ve increasingly just not had to do anything in the town or even talk to some of the people in there. It would just be nice if we got a few different events scattered throughout.
Plus NPCs tend to have very limited dialogue. I know it isn’t important but the joy of talking to them wears off when they say the same thing nearly every time you talk to them. Even with my reputation soaring and friendship growing thanks to fulfilling commissions I just get the same conversations. I would love there to be options to join them when they gather to do things as well. I’m friends with most of the group of identical looking brothers so when they meet for their BBQ it would be nice if you could be invited to join them. Or so many seem to go off to the bottom of the town to do exercise it would be nice if you trigger a cut scene after helping them where you get talked into joining them.
I guess this isn’t a negative at all but things I’d like to see added…
Maybe more caves with better drop rates for some of the uncommon items. Whilst I know that the small chips are found by destroying robots in the Hazardous mines I don’t really like the fighting aspect and would prefer another cave where they aren’t as uncommon.
More items in general I guess. I love building stuff and would love to have a whole bunch more to make. From actual machines, to more gifts… Just loads.
Fashion though I feel needs a lot of work. So far there has been about 3 tops and 3 trousers (maybe a little more) you can buy from the shop. I’d like for there to be a few different kinds of clothes, they don’t even have to have special effects but just a nice outfit for summer and different hats. Even crafting your own clothes and being able to gift them.
I do crave it turning a little more Animal Crossing too so having collectibles. You have your own fish tank so I thought it would be nice if somewhere there ends up being a museum and you have to fill it with relics and stuff. It would mean adding a whole ton of random objects, maybe more fish varieties and so on to the game but I think it would be fun.
Also just random correspondence through the mail.
I can’t really talk about storywise because I’ve been taking my time but there is this church vs research vibe going on and I’d like that actually go somewhere and not just be the church sits protesting the use of Relics whilst you help the research centre grow the use of Relics.
More stories though, more personal little moments with the NPCS, different creatures to meet… You get my point. Just keep adding more of everything. I’d like to see if they enlarge the map, again I haven’t explored probably half of what there is to discover but I’d like to think that if you keep travelling there will be different villages/towns and new things to discover. Grow your business or something. I really hope if it isn’t a thing they’ll make it a thing.
All in all its a brilliant game on its own merits right now and worth buying and supporting. I couldn’t praise it higher.