Chinese developer Pathea Games has collaborated with Team17 to bring the world My Time at Portia, a Studio Ghibli-inspired crafting/farming simulator! The game takes inspiration from several different areas, including the beautiful imagery of the aforementioned Studio Ghibli and gameplay from Animal Crossing, Indie superstar Stardew Valley and even elements from some wee thing named Minecraft. Honestly, if you enjoyed any of those games then you’re in for a treat here, I’d go as far as saying you don’t even need to read this review as the game is up to your street (please read this review). There are even aspects taken from Fallout and Dark Souls but we’ll get to those later.
The story here is much more hands-on than I’d expect, there are even some intriguing set pieces. It opens with you moving to the town of Portia to take over your late Father’s decaying workshop. It’s very obvious the relationship between the player and their father wasn’t great and this gesture is intended to be a fresh start, although admittedly slightly belated. You’ll meet the townsfolk very quickly and they’re definitely an interesting bunch. My favorite so far is the Mayor’s daughter Ginger, a troubled young woman who adores stories. There’s also the farmers, reporters, scientists, architects and so many more to meet, interact with and engage with. The characters are bursting with charm and it’s genuinely fun to hear their day to day interactions as well as witness some larger story arcs unfold. Another personal favorite is your rival, Higgins. This is a family-friendly review so I won’t go into my thoughts on him but he is a fantastic foe.
What about the world? It’s a post-apocalyptic wonderland. The aesthetic is fantastic, there are so many interesting objects on the horizon and it really encourages exploration. The environments are all unique enough to feel like your exploration is rewarded as you find cool secrets or new areas with new materials to experiment with. There’s a surprising amount of story content in Portia, way more than Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing. One thing I loved about the game was that there is always a main mission for you to be working towards, be it building a huge structure that will enhance the town or conquering a local dungeon. This genre is usually pretty aimless in terms of gameplay but by having a legitimately engaging storyline to progress though really helped with my engagement in the game.
What will you actually be doing though? Well, a whole load of stuff really. Crafting is the true core of the game and to craft, you’ll need materials. You can go mining for ores, go foresting for wood, hunt animals, fish, farm or even just gather items from the ground. There are many, many ways to get materials, enough that no two days in a row in game will see you doing the same thing. It’s very easy as a player to mix up what you’re doing to keep it all fresh in your head. You have a book with the most important items that you’ll be crafting and a list of necessary materials. This is very handy and a fantastic aid in keeping track of what is essential to your gathering efforts.
There are a few different ‘mission’ types in Portia. Main missions will often see you building huge structures with a lot of materials whereas commerce commissions and townsfolk requests will see you crafting smaller items to keep the locals pleased. Commerce commissions can actually range from said huge structures to tiny things like raw materials with the rewards varying greatly. Speaking of rewards, the currency in Portia is known as Gols and while they’re difficult to come by at first after a few in-game months you’ll be loaded. You also earn workshop reputation by completing commissions. Increasing this unlocks higher tier missions as well as monthly prizes depending on your ranking compared to the other four workshops. Finishing first isn’t a difficult feat but it is very rewarding and it makes Higgins angry. This pleases me.
Why have I compared it to Dark Souls? Well, stamina management is vital in Portia. You have a stamina bar which resets daily if it runs out you cannot do anything else on that day. It is well worth planning your days in advance to ensure you’ll have enough stamina for anything you need to get done. There’s also combat with, you guessed it, a dodge roll involved. It’s simple and fun and doesn’t require any practice, anyone could pick up the controller and kill anything in-game easily. The game is fantastically accessible and caters to several different playstyles. If you want to do a lot of fighting, you can, if you love mining, go get those ores, if you want a dating sim there’s plenty of that here (you can go on dates) or if you just want to farm some crops you can relax into that.