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My Time at Portia
Game Reviews

My Time at Portia

The post-apocalypse has never been so adorable in this charming world-rebuilding sim.

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It’s easy to find myself absorbed by a video game. Whether it be an engrossing story or addictive gameplay, certain hooks can sink deep if your not careful. Eventually at some point those hooks loosen with time, especially when if the game relies on one singular gimmick or concept. I always find myself smashing on buttons or rapidly mouse-clicking through action epics or real-time strategies  just to see the story through. Involving, this isn’t.

Games like Stardew Valley, Minecraft and Animal Crossing all do tremendous jobs of giving players wider opportunities, and to change things into other things very quickly. Tired of planting seeds? Go get married. Tired of mining? Make something mechanical. Tired of shaking trees? Go fish! Variety is always there and always welcomed in this relaxing sub genre. Which is probably why My Time at Portia turned into such a pleasant experience.

In familiar fashion, you find yourself taking over a shop from your father in the land of Portia. You must mine, craft, and befriend your way through life one day at a time while also making plenty of room to partake in many of the town’s celebrations and holidays. While most of them all feel analogous to our real world counterparts, they also have a slight post-apocalyptic bent.

Yes, the post-apocalypse. My Time at Portia takes place years after a large catastrophic event that caused the world to reset it’s infrastructure. While this may sound serious and dire the game never truly delves too deep into the darkness that others have often played up to great extents. Instead, we get a rather hopeful and charming interpretation of what rebuilding the world might feel like.

Knowing what it draws its inspiration from, you can gather that the overall loop of the game revolves around the collection of ores and wood to then craft other things that then create better things. It’s a seemingly endless loop that some people have grown tired of but I have continued to find it a rewarding experience. Even more so, Portia does an excellent job of streamlining what other games have fumbled with in the past making the UI a lot more user-friendly.

For instance, all chests in your farm can be accessible from using a singular chest. Sorting all your items in your current inventory is as easy as hitting “sort” – while allowing the game to place it into the correct chest into a stack of the same item is as simple as hitting “sort all”. Not only that but using any of your workbenches will allow you grab materials from any of your chests in order without searching for it first.

But with that presents the first of many inconsistencies in Portia. When a majority of your workbenches allow a nice work flow, your stage for crafting larger items and workbenches themselves requires you to physically have the item in your hands before putting it down. It also hogs the space with a blueprint until you make it or exchange it for something else. Say you need 5 wooden board but you only have 4, you can’t put them there. This just feels unwieldy – especially around so many smart improvements to such familiar systems.

Some of the other inconsistencies throughout the game pop up and rear their ugly head from time to time. Some of these are common open-world bugs but some just feel perplexing and incomplete. This includes the bizarre unintuitive keyboard shortcuts and lack of complete controller support. Some of the font seems disproportionate to other fonts thusly making them feel out of place. Dropped items might go missing for good. The voice acting is initially turned off as default which seems like a bizarre choice.

I also noticed typos. No only are there misspelled English words but Chinese characters would occasionally surface in some of the menus. Hilarious, yes, but you could easily chalk these issues up to language barriers between the Chinese developers and localization team, despite the fact the game was churning along in Early Access for some time before this release. That said, we’re used to seeing such inconsistencies make their way into modern gaming, Chinese or otherwise.

Bugs, language snafus and optimization issues (rain be damned) aside, the overall experience is still charming and fun to explore. My Time at Portia has a lot to offer outside mining and the grinding. I’ve yet to delve deep into the relationships but it’s all there with side quests and marriage and children. If familial life isn’t your thing, you’re free to hunt for relics of days past; fixing pre-apocalypse statues, machines and items. There’s gardening. There’s mini games and there’s hanging out. In short, there’s a lot of game to explore here.

The amount of content seems overwhelming at times. At times the in-game clock can make time itself feel like it moves at a glacial pace, like there’s no end in sight. But when you have this much content at your disposal, it just takes a little time to get accustomed to its unique style before settling into the swing of things. It does a magical job of taking it from bloated mess to a bursting treasure trove – if you’ve got the patience.

If you’ve been smitten by a game of a similar style in the past you might find My Time at Portia a great way to get back into the swing of things. Under its adorable veneer is a surprisingly robust life-simulation, filled with many things to do and many lands to explore – and that’s just the beginning. Despite its little flaws and occasional language issues patient players are bound to find something to enjoy while exploring and rebuilding this whimsical world from scratch. The post-apocalypse has never been so adorable.

About the Author: James McKeever