Farming is one of those genres that sounds antithetical to video games. Escapism should be rooted in throwing yourself as far away from reality as possible. Why would toiling day in, day out trying to earn your keep in the world be a reasonable way to spend your free time? I’ll be real, I don’t actually have an answer here, but it’s been proven tried-and-true. My Time at Portia isn’t quite a farming game, but more of an in general crafting, resource management, mass production, social butterfly, and exploration (with light combat) kind of game.
There’s a lot to cover in My Time at Portia, and in my two weeks spent playing I feel like I barely scratched the surface. This is a game that is intended to be played over the course of hundreds on hundreds of hours, and unfortunately that just wasn’t possible in this case. I did manage to progress to a point where I was able to grasp what the game wanted me to feel, and let enough in game days pass to get a grasp on changing seasons and the town events that come with them. Even so, there were still more and more events popping up, from little things like character specific requests, to more robust community days. Saying I was close to completing My Time at Portia would be an absolute lie.
Your Time at Portia
My Time at Portia actually has very little farming. Instead you’re tasked with operating a workshop and taking on commissions. You’ll be smelting ores, cutting boards, and building a lot of furniture. When you’re not building, you’re gathering from nature, or mining ancient relics. The relics form part of the overarching narrative of Portia, a divide in the town between futuristic progress, and religious fear from a time past of near apocalypse. The Church of Light and Research Center act as factions as you delve deeper into the ruins of the ancient world. The Church of Light will give you more farming options, while the Research Center provides new machinery blueprints. Both seem equally viable paths, and I can see how both could be appealing to different players.
Of course you aren’t left completely directionless in this grand adventure called life. Portia’s main quest line starts with a little bit of inertia, as you’re tasked with building a small bridge in order to connect a small island. It took me ten in-game days to complete the objective. At first it seemed like a pretty easy task, the list of parts required are laid out in the menu, complete with instructions on how to obtain every ingredient. The part that takes so long is that you need three different machines and an axe upgrade, each of which needs to be crafted. After over a week, and naturally stopping to explore, speak with town folk, and just taking in Portia, you might just have enough to finally start building the bridge. Even after building your tools, you’ll need yet more resources and time to build the parts, and finally you can put that bridge together.
Nothing but Time at Portia
It does take a bit of time, and can feel tedious at first, but this is the ebb and flow of Portia. It’s a solid learning experience, and as an added bonus you’re now set up with the tools for any job. From there each new task took less and less startup, and I was doing more and more optional commissions, starting to rake in big money.
A skill tree lets you put priority on the aspects of Portia that you prefer; social, combat, or crafting. Mini games and side quests can keep you from getting bored from the main story, and when you’re ready to settle down, there are a ton of romantically available NPCs, but you’ll have to put the work in to win them over. Maxing out your playthrough is a long, but satisfying battle.
Still with all that’s available in Portia, not everything will be perfect. Combat is on the easy side and at times feels shoehorned in. The mining is also pretty barebones, and amounts to pickaxe-ing the day away, hunting for shinies that range from furniture to important machinery parts. While Portia is graphically diverse, the character models in particular are kind of awkward looking, and have an off-brand Dreamworks aesthetic to them.
My Time at Portia is a wonderful game that you can, and will play for hundreds of hours. While I can’t promise that building furniture will be a life changing gaming experience, there is something about putting some effort into a fictional life that just feels nice. Once you get over the slow pacing, stiff combat, and… faces, My Time at Portia is a great new life to get invested in.
System reviewed on: Nintendo Switch.
Disclaimer: A review code for My Time at Portia was provided by the publisher.