Title: My Time at Portia Released On: April 16, 2019 Genre: Simulation RPG Reviewed On: Xbox One Also Available On: PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch Developer: Pathea Games Publisher: Team17 Digital Ltd. MSRP: $29.99 USD / $34.99 CAD (PlayStation 4 and Xbox One), $39.99 USD / $54.99 CAD (Nintendo Switch)
We’re back in Portia and this time around we’re contributing to the town from the comfort of our own couches! My Time at Portia has released across home consoles and for many of us it’s exactly what we’ve been waiting for to sake our thirst for a new crafting sim. Scholarly Gamers reviewed the game in January when it released on PC, and we were excited to get back to rebuilding Portia once again!
I spent days upon days watching friends play through and stream My Time at Portia through it’s development on PC, so it was with eager anticipation that I loaded up Portia for the first time on my Xbox One X and dove right to work assisting the town in rebuilding the infrastructure of Portia and competing against the other Builders for prestige among the townspeople.
My Time at Portia is set in the post-apocalyptic world of Portia, and your goal as the newest Builder in town is to help rebuild major infrastructure and improve your Workshop. On the surface My Time at Portia is a crafting and resource management sim, but at it’s core the game is so much more than that. It’s almost a “life” sim, as you’ll find so many things to occupy your time that will take you away from the Commissions and actual jobs that the townsfolk are asking you to accomplish. So many days I lost myself fishing, planting crops, delving into dungeons, or giving presents to my friends, just because it became so easy to get organically wrapped up in daily life in Portia.
When it comes down to it, it’s a game about community and belonging, and for a Sim-RPG it has a lot of heart. Portia has fallen on some rough times trying to rebuild society since the apocalypse, and as the new builder in town you’re placed in an expert position to help bring prosperity back to the quaint little town. The “goal” of My Time at Portia is to become the best builder through completing commissions that are posted daily at the Commerce Guild, many of which contribute to the overall infrastructure of Portia and the surrounding countryside.
Often these major commissions solve a problem that the town has been experiencing, and they can serve to open up a new area of the map, or in some instances — such as saving the Tree Farm with their various bat and water-related woes — open up new shops and opportunities for the player. This includes building a new bridge to an island with a spooky cave, solving the pollution of the Portia fountain, and repairing a lift to give you access to an entirely new area of the map.
Unlike many other games that fall into the resource farming/crafting sim category, there was almost never a day in Portia that I found myself without something to do, and most days I would be working right until midnight ensuring that all of my furnaces and crafting apparatuses were simultaneously working to churn all of the raw materials I had gathered into valuable crafting supplies.
You’ll spend most of your days working on the commissions for the Commerce Guild or other citizens of Portia, and outside of the major story commissions the townsfolk are always looking to have new items built by your expert Workshop. These not only serve to line your pockets with some essential coin, Gols, but also to increase your relationship with the dozens of townspeople.
It’s the type of game where you can really do whatever you want to at your own pace. Don’t want to tackle the main story, or any commissions at all? You won’t increase your Workshop rating, but the game mechanics wholly allow for it. Want to just focus on Ruin-diving and collecting artifacts to donate to the Museum or sell, or become an expert Angler turned cook who sells their dishes to the town? Or perhaps you just want to farm, and set up a barn, coop, and rows of planter boxes fed by your own irrigation system?
All of these things, and much more, are possible within in My Time at Portia, and it’s really what makes the game such a unique gem. There aren’t many other games in the genre that allow you the type of freedom and versatility afforded to players in Portia, and there are relatively few quests or events that have an actual time constraint to them, allowing you to gather, craft, and socialize at your own pace.
Your Workshop is your hub for everything, and you’ll spend a large portion of your time at Portia ensuring that all of your equipment is constantly chugging away, churning out essential materials required for the commissions you’ll set up at your Assembly Station. This is where you bring all of your blueprints to bring them to life using a wide variety of materials that you can harvest and scavenge throughout the world.
Within the boundaries of your workshop you can build all manner of crafting equipment, which will help you to turn the raw materials that you scavenge into highly useful plates, bars, hardware, and other miscellaneous items necessary for crafting intricate designs. You’ll build everything from bridges to water wheels, furnaces to music players. Your father’s trusty Handbook holds all of the blueprints that you need to craft items as you progress through the game, and additional blueprints are unlocked by delving into Ruins and mining for the Data Discs that have been left behind by previous inhabitants of the island.
The only caveat to the Workshop is that it starts off somewhat small, and it can be a bit of a slow burn before you’re able to expand it to get to some of the more “late-game” operations, including the Stable, Barn, and Factory. It costs a hefty chunk of change to purchase the space upgrades for the Workshop, but once you do you’ll have a wealth of space to play around with to customize your operations.
The improvements you make to Portia often have a direct impact on the gameplay, whether that’s opening up a new island or area to explore, or adding new services like the Dee-Dee Transport. Progressing through these major commissions that are offered to you by the Mayor and the Commerce Guild typically advances the narrative as well, progressing you towards additional areas and major infrastructure improvements.
Managing your daily tasks can become a little overwhelming at times, as you’ll often find that in order to accomplish one commission you’ll need to first construct new facilities which can craft the parts that you need for your commission. In the most extreme cases you may actually find that you don’t even have the blueprint for the structure that you require, which is often when you’ll want to spend some time spelunking through the Ruins.
The Abandoned Ruins, as well as the more dangerous Hazardous Wasteland (Sewage Plant), are where you’ll find a lot of the necessary components from the Old World which are required to built more intricate machinery. Instead of mining specific rocks to get a certain type of ore or item, the Ruins in My Time at Portia are massive open caves that you dig through using your pickaxe and trusty Relic Detector to lead you towards valuable items. The Ruins are also home to the absolutely integral Data Discs, of which you always want to have an excess of.
Data Discs are important in My Time at Portia for several different vendors, but their most crucial function is allowing Petra at the Research Center to decipher new Blueprints for you to use at your Workshop. In many cases the Blueprints that you receive are important for some core function of the Workshop, and in several cases I found that the one thing I was missing to fulfill a main commission was just a Blueprint away.
The Research Center unlocks items at random, so it can be some time before you will unlock the recipe that you may require for a specific commission, even main quest related ones. I greatly needed an Industrial Cutter for multiple commissions but the Data Discs that I turned into the Research Center kept coming back with cooking utensils like they were trying to tell me something.
Luckily your trusty Handbook has a complete catalog of all of the various materials and informs the player exactly what machinery is required to refine your gathered resources into these essential crafting items. This can just occasionally mean waiting days for the Research Lab to decode data discs and provide you with what is (hopefully) the blueprint you require.
It may sound a little tedious, but it’s all part of the charm of My Time at Portia‘s simulation. It’s a very comprehensive and well thought-out system, which factors in over a dozen different tools and dozens of raw materials which allow you to take on the game’s various commissions. You can’t just find everything that you need from gathering resources however; some things can only be found in the Abandoned or Hazardous Ruins.
As you progress deeper into the game, things that initially seemed like almost insurmountable tasks — like building your first Dee-Dee transport — become relatively routine commissions. Tasks that previously took days of gathering and battling through the Sewage Plant in the Hazardous Ruins, are now completed before the sun sets over your newly constructed Portia Harbor.
There is so much more to Portia than just building commissions for the townspeople. Every commission that you complete for someone increases your relationship with that person, and when you’re not busy working you can socialize with the townsfolk and even go on dates or ask for their hand in marriage. Assuming you have taken the time to cultivate the relationship to the point where that would be an acceptable proposition.
As someone who focused heavily on the gathering and crafting aspects of the game initially, I had to put some work in to get past the “Associate” and “Buddy” levels to where I could actually start asking people on dates. Luckily I had already spent a fair amount of time with Emily, assisting her in capturing her lost chickens and cultivating her Watermelons,
With all this being said, My Time at Portia does have a few rough spots around the edges, but there was nothing that hindered the game substantially. It just appears that there are a few glitches that are prone to occurring in certain areas, such as the Sewer Plant. Once I had opened up the Hazardous Wasteland I ran into a couple invisible walls that I had to circumvent, and several times in the Sewer Plant there was a glitch that didn’t allow me to progress to the next level because an enemy I needed to kill was stuck behind a wall. This forced me to re-load the dungeon and lose some time, but wasn’t a huge detriment.
There are some oddities with the sound in where points that you would expect to hear the sound of combat or even just ambient background noise, the game was eerily silent. There were several boss fights that pulled me completely out of the immersion because it just felt so out-of-place that there was absolutely no sound effects occurring at all.
In addition to this I felt like the game could have done a better job detailing what was required of the player to register for the various seasonal events. I completely missed the first fishing event because I wasn’t aware I had to register in advance, and the Fall Horse Race was similarly not clear about how to actually register for the event.
There is one event every season and these are some of the most fun experiences that I had playing the game because they actually made you feel like you were socially part of the community; not just economically. In addition to this, coming in first place or scoring highly during the Fishing, Martial Arts, Ghost Hunt and Horse Race awards the players with special medals which can be turned in for fancy new outfits and decorations.
At the end of the day it is the ultimate choice that the player has in Portia that makes the game such a success in the realm of RPG-Sims. Where in other games you can find yourself getting into a humdrum routine that you repeat ad nauseum every single day, completing tasks in my Time at Portia always feels organic. The only thing that could improve the core gameplay would be the addition of multiplayer, but Pathea Games have yet to confirm whether or not this will be a future plan.
I’ve completed almost every major commission the city has to offer and I still see myself spending a lot more of My Time at Portia in the near future. The ability to play at my own pace and tackle jobs as I saw fit, and then completely revamp my entire Workshop to take on new ventures creates a longevity to the game that feeds into its organic pacing. I decided to take the hint from the game, and I’m planning to run a full-scale cow and chicken operation so that I can realize my dreams of being the best baker in Portia, using only ingredients from my own farm.
I’ve spent easily over 60 hours playing My Time at Portia, and my time spent there has instantly skyrocketed this game to the top of my RPG-Sim library. There isn’t another game that quite gives you this type of freedom to live as you please, craft or farm as you want, and really just to settle into your own little sim-life in Portia.
Final Score: 8.5/10
Even after completing all of the major objectives, without a doubt I’m going to be spending a lot more of My Time At Portia
The review copy of this game was a digital code provided by the publisher.