Quirky and fun but could use a bit of polish.
It’d be easy for me to sit here and tell you that My Time At Portia is just a less enjoyable, 3D Stardew Valley. However, My Time At Portia is surprisingly fun to play, and differs from the Harvest Moon-inspired RPG more than I thought it would. There are still some pretty obvious high-level similarities between the two. Most notably, the overall structure of the narrative, but a few major mechanical distinctions help bring new life to an otherwise been-there-done-that moment within the gaming community.
I want to get some of my issues with the game out of the way first. In the state that I played My Time At Portia, I was let down by the overall polish. Every once in a while, I also ran into grammatical errors in dialogue subtitles. There were also many points in which lines of dialogue were different than the subtitles, and at some points, they were missing altogether.
I’m hoping most of these issues will be addressed soon, because they often took me out of the moment. Farming RPGs like My Time At Portia are perfect if you have a few hours to dive deep and get lost in the gameplay loop, but hiccups like these pull you out and remind you that you’re playing a video game.
The overall sound design is a little distracting as well. Occasionally, lines of dialogue are much quieter than the music, making the characters hard to hear, and vice-versa. Of course, you have the option to fiddle around in the settings, but nobody really wants to do that more than once.
In My Time At Portia’s defense, it’s a massive game. There is so much content here that if you were to play one more game for the rest of your life, this should probably be it. It’s kind of like an indie Skyrim in that way. Writing all the lines of dialogue must have been a task in and of itself, let alone having actors voice all of them. It’s also been receiving consistent updates since it was released in Early Access about a year ago, so I anticipate most of the issues will go away soon, accompanied by more awesome content.
Despite the lack of polish, I did enjoy My Time At Portia. It takes some inspiration (occasionally, a lot of inspiration) from similar games released before it, but for the most part, it pulls those things off in its own way.
Because of the 3D animation style, putting time and effort into the overall look and feel of your workshop is satisfying. You’re not looking at a pixelated, top-down view of the place—not that there’s anything wrong with that—it’s all right there in front of you, and it’s fun to just be in your own space.
And I should mention, this game is pretty. The cartoon-ish 3D graphics create a relaxing, happy mood, which is how playing something like this should feel.
My Time At Portia really benefits from its third-person mechanics. Combat is better than most of its counterparts. Exploring the ruins and the world is interesting and movement is simply fun, especially that combat roll.
Many of the missions and commissions you receive involve either crafting something, killing something or fetching something, which is to be expected in this sort of game. Luckily, most of it is still enjoyable, especially crafting. Using your father’s handbook at the assembly station is a good way to learn how to build some of the essential tools to craft other essential items. I can see how some people might think the illustrations within the handbook might make building a little confusing, but I liked decoding the drawings and diving into what’s happening on the page. It felt like I was building IKEA furniture all over again.
And of course, one of my favourite parts is building relationships with the other inhabitants of Portia. Much of the voice acting in the game is pretty bad, but that sort of adds to the quirky feel of the game as a whole. Going on dates and getting to know the people living in the world keeps the game interesting.
My Time At Portia makes up for its lack of polish with nearly everything else it has to offer. It has what seems to be an endless amount of content, so you’re definitely getting your money’s worth. It doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, but it definitely gives the games it’s inspired by a run for their money.
[Reviewed on PC]