My Time At Portia has one of those titles that review writers practically salivate over, as the closing remarks practically write themselves with a title like that. Games like Just Cause and Shoot Many Robots are such fertile, obvious ground for puns that often it’s easy to pick out the exact moment the writer chuckled in agreement with their own work. “I enjoyed My Time At Portia” or “I would’ve enjoyed My Time At Portia if we got a better deal on our vacation package”, he wrote with a smug grin.
However, I will do my best to avoid this low hanging fruit and tell you about how much I appreciated My Time At Portia. (Ah damn it!)
Trite jokes aside, Pathea Games has made something very special here. It would be easy to draw parallels between Portia and Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon, but the 3D perspective and unique setting set this game apart that make the experience an easy recommendation to anyone who enjoys similar games. You have your crafting elements where you break down objects with a pickaxe and various tools, relationships to build with townsfolk, and herbs to plant; but the post-apocalyptic yet charming world make the whole experience feel different in some fantastic ways. There are robots, mutated animals to find, and ancient ruins to explore and find exotic materials. The flora is mostly indistinct, but the fauna are designed well.
There are fat birds wearing glasses with pinecones sticking out of their heads, living piñata llamas with fast charge attacks, male ladybugs named “Mr. Ladybug”, these are just some of the weird ass creatures that await inevitable slaughter to turn into those crafting mats you so desperately need.
Killing four cute pink llamas seriously left me a bit shaken.
These creatures are so pure and animate very well, murdering them just feels wrong…but not wrong enough to get me to spend my hard-earned gold on these materials in the shops. However not every creature is harmless, you will occasionally travel to monster-infested ruins and must defend yourself with craftable weapons ranging from longswords to Badminton rackets. Combat might be the prime differentiator for this game compared to its peers and it handles pretty well despite the feeling I had that the game was not primarily designed around this combat system. What’s a bit perplexing is that this game also has enemies carrying ranged weapons, but you are not able to make or use anything besides melee weapons. This didn’t end up bothering me as much though since combat is really only a means to gathering exotic materials from your enemies rather than a prime focus of the game.
The mission structure will have you accept commissions of varying levels from the townspeople. These typically reward you with gold, relationship points from whoever posted the commission in town, and work shop reputation. As your reputation increases from taking missions, you will be able to take on more difficult ones that may require you to build a new structure at your workshop and gather rare materials. I engaged with a few of these side missions but mostly stuck to the main ones to advance the story along. There are about 21 main story missions and the game does a pretty good job at letting you know what materials/structures that you need to have gathered or built in order to advance. If you are interested in romancing someone in town or making friends you may want to take on a few side missions or give them a gift to increase your relationship with them. You can gift just about anything in your inventory, but each townsperson has their own likes and dislikes so make sure to pay attention to their dialogue in order to tell what they might actually enjoy.
You CAN gift someone poop…I don’t recommend doing that.
My Time At Portia is great game for folks who are looking for a Harvest Moon experience in a much more open area. The experience feels large and the combat system is a pretty neat, albeit shallow, addition to the gameplay experience. I really do like where this game goes, the writing and design are particular standouts, but your mileage may vary depending on how much you enjoy games with similar gameplay loops. This one is certainly not going to convert people into “Sim-RPG” fans if they don’t like those other games, but will be very enjoyable for those who do.
Take a Look at the My Time at Portia Steam Early Access Trailer:
My Time at Portia is available for PC via Steam Early Access today for $19.99/£15.99/19,99€ and will be heading to Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch later this year.