Despite rarely stepping on any actual farms in my life, I’m pretty confident if I inherited one from my grandfather, my mother or the next door neighbour, I’d know exactly what to do.
This seems to happen a lot in farming simulator games like Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon. A young person inherits a farm that they have no experience taking care of – but with a few tutorials and a friendly man to show them the ropes, they become an expert in no time. My Time at Portia follows this same trope; you’re encouraged to build up your Pa’s neglected workshop to its former glory. Some elbow grease, a few wooden boards, and hours upon hours of working yourself to the bone in a mine, and you’ll be well on your way to making your Pa proud.
My Time at Portia is a farming simulator fresh out of early access from Pathea Games and Team17. In it, your character has just started a brand new life in the beautiful town of Portia. Starting with nothing but your father’s old workbook and a few crafting recipes, you’re able to begin your life on the farm. With a workbench you can make axes to cut down trees, pickaxes to mine with, and furniture and other helpful items. From there you’ll slowly figure out how to make and upgrade bigger and better things to advance your workshop into becoming the best in Portia.
The beginning of the game starts out super slow. Presley, a Portia local who works at the commerce centre, introduces you to the ins and outs of starting your workshop. After building a few things to prove you have what it takes, you’ll get permission to start taking commissions. Other workshop owners around the area won’t be very happy that you’ve moved into town, but eventually you’ll start getting regular commissions to earn some cash.
Early on in My Time at Portia, you’ll spend the majority of your time in the mine as you need tonnes of materials to get going. One of the first commissions you’ll receive is to build a bridge for another part of the town. In order to do this, you need to smelt copper ore with a furnace as well as a civil cutter to make wooden boards. In order to make a civil cutter you need copper blades, but to make those you have to create a grinder. Have you caught on? You need eight million machines and materials to make just one thing, so you’ll be spending a lot of time picking in the mine before you’re able to take on any real commissions.
And for something that takes on such a huge part of the game, mining can be pretty repetitive not to mention cumbersome. Your character has a few different health characteristics that you must pay attention to, including stamina and health. Stamina is drained every time you chop a tree, get into combat with enemies, or use your pickaxe in the mine. There are a couple of things you can do to restore stamina: eating or going to sleep. Eating you can do mid-mining session, but buying food can be pretty expensive when you’re first starting the game. I spent a good 10 to 15 in-game days just tearing apart the mine to get everything that I needed. Oftentimes I would just hold down the mouse button and lay back and relax, occasionally moving forward as I collected items. If you stick with it, eventually the game begins to move more quickly, but it took me at least three hours before I really began to appreciate My Time At Portia.
While inside the mine you’ll be given a headset that looks suspiciously like that night vision headset Timmy wears in Jurassic Park. You know, from the bit where they’re in the jeep and the T-rex almost eats them? Except in My Time at Portia this fancy headdress lets you spot special relics from the “old world”. These special items help you build more advanced machinery and items later. Once you venture out of the mine and into town, My Time at Portia becomes a lot more exciting as you take on enemies and discover more technology from the old world.
Another large part of the game is doing research with the folks at the Portia Research Centre. Clearly something happened a few hundred years before Portia came to be, because everyone in town seems to be obsessed with the past. In fact, although everything in town seems nice and cheery, eventually you’ll come across the “Church of Light”. If you attend their Sunday service they’ll spend it warning the townsfolk about the danger of letting technology rule your lives.
So everything isn’t as simple as you might think in the little town of Portia – and the Church of Light is one of the places where you’ll get some real backstory.
Aside from the goings-on at the church, there’s a million other things you can do in My Time at Portia. You can go to town events, plant and grow crops, take care of farm animals and upgrade the area surrounding your workshop until it becomes the thriving, flourishing home you want it to be. You can even romance someone that calls to you and get married. There’s dozens of hours of gameplay to be had in the game, so there’s definitely something for everyone.
When it comes to the technical side of things, My Time at Portia runs pretty well. I experienced only a few glitches inside of the mine and some framerate lagging here or there. Sometimes the dialogue is much more quiet than the game’s annoying elevator music so you might find it hard to hear some characters, and if it rains you can forget about it altogether. Just coming out of early access, My Time at Portia isn’t perfect, but the devs seem to be very open help and suggestions so any problems aren’t likely to stay around for long.
My Time at Portia takes a lot of positive notes from popular farming simulators like Stardew Valley and Minecraft, and puts its own creative spin on things. It might seem just like any other farming sim at first glance, but the more you play the more you’ll discover its unique story and engaging gameplay elements. There are some setbacks with the ridiculous amount of mining you’re forced to do at the beginning of the game, but if you stick with it, you’ll have a lot of fun.