The post apocalyptic world has never been so adorable. The quaint little town of Portia may not look the part of a mysterious dystopia, but once you start to interact with the villagers and go relic hunting in the Abandoned Ruins, you quickly realize that there’s a darker history under it all. After creating a character to your liking, players are ushered to the dilapidated workshop left behind by your Pa. You’ll need to register your workshop with the local guild, but after doing so you’ll be able to take on commissions and start earning Gols (the currency for Portia).
Unlike most life management sims that focus on farming as a means to rebuild a town, My Time at Portia focuses more on crafting and relic discovery. Farming is an option, but My Time at Portia’s planter boxes offer a more limited “plant it and forget it” experience that is a sharp contrast to other games in the genre, such as Stardew Valley or Farm Together’s more expansive and high maintenance fields. These smaller boxes does allow for you to spend more time exploring or completing commissions without fear of accidental crop decay, however. They also increase the ease of rearranging your farm, which can be vital in the earlier stages when you’re limited to a super tiny area.
Exploring Portia’s dungeons is going to eat up a good chunk of your time in the game. They provide extremely important resources, not just copper and iron, but precious relics from the past, as well. Some items, like couches and washing machines, can be added to your home and serve as buffs for your character by adding increased stamina or additional hit points. Other items, like data discs, can be turned in to the resource center to unlock vital blueprints that you can then access from the handy book that your Pa left behind for you.
These dungeons are, in general, fairly satisfying when you’re allowed to just explore and loot them, but some are full of baddies which lead to My Time at Portia’s weak spot – combat. Combat is quite limited to just spamming the X button to attack, pressing left bumper for an evasive roll, or holding the right bumper to run. There are a variety of weapons that can be equipped, from tennis rackets to daggers, to improved swords made of heavy metals, and most of them have buffs that can help improve your effectiveness in battle. Its the actual battle itself, that’s problematic.
Often times when confronted with a fight, the enemy AI will just stand in one part of the arena and wait for you to pummel them for a few moments. They make no effort to evade or counter your attacks, they just stand there and take it. Until they don’t any more, and then they pummel you back for a little bit. Just like the enemy, your character is effectively a statue while being attacked as you also have no options for countering beyond using the dodge roll.
There’s one shocking benefit to the weak combat system, and that is the incredibly low difficulty curve. Even when battle sequences pit players against enemies that are more than twice as many levels ahead of them the sequence of “run up, attack, run back” is effective enough to take them down. Which lets you get out of the lackluster combat and back into the more enjoyable crafting and looting loops that are just better executed.
Regardless of what you enjoy most about your time in Portia, there’s plenty of opportunities to do it. While Community Guild commissions are timed and initially framed as your main objective, they’re not necessarily a requirement to succeed in My Time at Portia. If you choose not to partake in certain build opportunities other builders in the city will pick up the commission and do them instead. The opportunity to explore the world, mingle with NPCs, take part in community festivals, find a lover (or two), get married, have children, get divorced, become a martial arts expert or a colorful llama farmer is all laid out for the player to take on at will. Connecting with the NPCs to build relationships can be a bit mundane, as you must interact with them frequently and they have limited amount of dialogue for chat, but there’s so many villagers that you’re generally not attempting to talk to anybody frequently enough to encounter an issue.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher