My Time at Portia
Xbox version tested
Review code provided
My Time at Portia makes its way to consoles after a successful outing on Steam. This Life Sim/RPG draws inspiration from the likes of Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing with a touch of Zelda and comes to us from our friends at Pathea Games.
Kicking things off by creating a colourful character to represent you in game, you head to the bright and charming island of Portia. Your father has set off on his own adventure and left you his workshop so you can build a life for yourself by helping the locals fix up and improve their town. After a story based tutorial that sees you earning your builders license, you are soon left to your own devices to roam the town. Meet the locals, do a touch of prospecting and undertake all manner of job commissions by lending a hand, gathering resources, developing and expanding your workshop into a bustling business complete with farmyard and sustainable production and help build Portia into a vibrant and thriving town.
Pathea Games have clearly taken a good look at some of the similar titles in the genre and that’s not a bad thing, this feels like the best parts of several titles spliced together and if you are going to draw inspiration, draw it from the right places. There is plenty to be getting on with and keep yourself busy during your time in Portia, starting things off nice and easy by gathering simple resources like wood and stone to craft a handy pickaxe and wood axe, both of which can be upgraded later in the game, you soon set off cutting down tree’s and chopping away at rocks yielding more resources. Crafting fancy new items such as fishing rods, furniture, jewellery, fences and anything else that might come in handy for selling to the local populace or aiding them in fixing up their abodes, farms, shops, shacks or even building bridges for the council to connect with nearby towns you will not be short of job requests.
Of course, all these items can’t just be slapped together willy nilly. Your old man left you a raggedy workshop with a basic workbench and a design book. The first order of business is to fix up the old place. After a few basic commissions, you will be tasked with a more elaborate request that will require more specialised equipment. Building saw tables, smelters, grinders and the like will see you being able to create more specialised items for your growing number of punters. In order to create these tools, you will need even more resources. Luckily there are plenty of mines to enter to prospect for materials as well an impressively large world to explore complete with monster-filled dungeons to battle through and clear out. These dungeons add a nice sense of variety to an already task heavy game, don’t expect Darksiders style combat but do be sure to have the right items for your endeavour lest you find yourself reliving Sean Bean’s greatest deaths. Mining, of course, will reward you with a wealth of materials as well as uncovering some valuable trinkets from the long lost past that can be collected and reforged via the towns research lab or sold for a handsome price.
Speaking of long-lost past, Portia itself is not all it appears to be, unlike most games in the genre that see you moving to an overly peaceful town and going about your business in the usual way, there is a nice story arc of discovery implemented here. Portia is set in a post-apocalyptic future and as you go about your day to day you will start to uncover the story of the past and how the world came to be as it is. This element was unexpected but welcomed as it gave a larger sense of purpose and intrigue to the progression. The story itself does not get in the way of the core gameplay but provides a nice underlay that unfolds naturally as you head into mines, make discoveries and venture further into the world.
Being a “Life Sim” at heart, taking care of your character will play a vital role. All that physical labour will take it’s toll so making sure you stock up on health and stamina providing items before venturing out each day will be just as important as ensuring you have all the tools and equipment you need. There is a generous skill tree to work your way through which will help you increase your characters stats and abilities, the skill points unlock at a steady pace as jobs are completed and activities performed. Day, night and season cycles will also play a big part in your story. Shops open and close at set times, day and night will have an effect as like all hard workers you will need to get some mandatory shut-eye. Certain jobs will need to be completed within a set time, so this element adds a bit of urgency to resource management, pushing you to make the most of each day. At first, this was a bit tricky as the days never seemed to last long enough (Life Sim after all) but once you get used to the lay of the land and how the things work, succeeding in commissions becomes satisfying and rewarding.
Although there are no voice overs in the game, all the local’s are unique and have plenty of personality between them due to whimsically written dialogue and character design. You will soon have your favourites picked out and remember them by name and know their usual locations when a job or visit is required. Each quest will have handy hints of what locations are best to gather the required resources or what types of tools you might need so you shouldn’t ever find yourself at a loss but thankfully the game doesn’t hold your hand so much that it becomes a tick box exercise, allowing you to stay on top of your time management when juggling multiple tasks. This increases at a steady rate as you begin growing crops and looking after livestock alongside your handyman day job.
Relationships can be forged throughout the game too, building these relationships does take time and is slow going at first as you try and find a balance of meeting everyone and getting on with your day to day, but as you get to know each character you might come across specific item’s that suit their interests thus making a great gift to earn friendship points with. You can also take part in small mini-games with them and even dates to help build that friendship into something special if you so desire.
My Time at Portia may be one of the most satisfying and surprising games I have played in a long time. I simply lost hours on this game and continue to do so. Whether you want to sit down and hardcore long sessions or just pick it up here and there to relax with, Portia will keep you entertained and engaged with a wide range of activities that genuinely provide a sense of achievement. There are a few elements that take a bit of time to truly come together and resource gathering can be a bit of a plod at first due to lack of inventory and storage but there is a great world to explore and create here. Providing a wide range of freedom with an interface that will always help to guide you down the right path if you get stuck this may well be the best the genre has to offer.
TBG Score 8.5/10
Genre: Simulation Role-Playing
Developer: Pathea Games
Publisher: Team 17 Digital Limited
Format: Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, PC
Download link: Microsoft Store