My Time at Portia was originally released on the PC launches today on 15 January 2019 on Steam. Today, it is released on the Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo SwitchTM . It was developed by Pathea Games and published by Team 17. It is a base-building role playing game.
AIR Entertainment obtained a digital copy of the game for review purposes.
It is not often that I play a crafting, base-building game with an immersive story. Minecraft has a subtle storyline, but only if you wish to pursue it. You could build forever and not care about reaching the End Dragon. With 7 Days to Die, the goal is simply to survive the blood moon every seven days. Even ARK is more about survival than any detailed storyline.
Enter My Time at Portia. The storyline starts right from the get-go, with you inheriting your pa’s workshop and taking over the maintenance life that he had before. To start off, your task is quite simple, do small tasks for the town and gain a reputation against the other workshops that are in competition with you. There is even a Workshop Ranking that rewards the top Workshops for the month, and for the year when the ranking points reset.
The longer you stay in Portia, the more you realise there is something happening behind the scenes. Things go missing, people are kidnapped and there are terrible things happening in the hazardous mines. Before you know it, you are juggling the time between being the town’s most loved builder to savior of Portia.
As you move through the main storyline, you unlock further designs for factory machines, tools and equipment. This is to help you progress in the story and boost you reputation in the town. Within the town itself, there are two main rivals who are after the relics that you find in the abandoned mines. The Church wants the relics destroyed, and the researchers want them to help develop new technology for you and the town.
The story and mythology of the game is beautiful. There is never a dull moment in Portia. Every mission will keep you busy for days, while balancing relationships with the need to run your business. There needs to be more games like this! From the mysterious Peach who saved everyone from the ‘darkness’, to the fantasy styled creatures you will meet along the way. The main quest will keep you intrigued all the way to the end, but the best part is that you can choose when you want to engage the main story, when you have time between your daily commissions from the residents of Portia.
Sadly, when the story does come to an end, the only thing keeping you playing are the trophies, repetitive daily commissions and your relationships with the town residents. I have been informed by the publisher that there will be more side quests and main missions added a few weeks after the console launch of the game, so I really do hope more content is coming.
When it comes to gameplay, there are several aspects of the game I would like to discuss. The first and foremost is the crafting. Most of your crafting will take place at what I call crafting stations. As you proceed through the main story, you will unlock more detailed stations that will permit greater output capacity in a lesser time period. At later stages in the game when designs and commissions become rather complicated, it may benefit you to construct more than one station of a certain type in order to lesson the time it takes to craft the items needed for the main design.
In the beginning and into quite some time in the game, you will spend many days harvesting the resources needed to start your crafting, such as stone, marble, copper and wood. Sometimes it helps to obtain more resources or craft more items than are needed, so that future commissions won’t take as long. Thankfully there are weekends where commissions are not available to help you catch up on the main story or do the Guild inspections of the other Workshops’ products.
I don’t want to spoil the game for newbies, so let me just end the crafting section by saying that you do unlock some things later that makes your crafting much, much easier and frees up so much time that you don’t know what to do with the rest of the day.
The next section is farming. You can grow quite a large selection of crops, which can be grown in either small or large planters. The large planters are more for trees or giant seeds that you obtain through the Autumn harvest festival or the Church of Light. What makes the farming so enjoyable are the seasons in the game. Each month is a different season, with four months in the year (barring the first year with the 0 Month introduction to the game). As you endure each season, you need to make sure you plant the correct seeds in the correct month.
You can also farm animals. Once you build a shed, stable and coop. The shed allows you to grow cows and sheep, while you feed, clean and pet them on a daily basis. I tended to do these while the crafting stations were busy so that I could grab the daily commission with the highest reputation reward before the other workshops could. When you take care of the animals, they tend to grow faster than usual. Buying them cheap at the farm as babies and then selling them at full growth was one of the most profitable means of income I had in the game.
Now we come to the fighting aspect of the game. Don’t expect fantastic combos or super-powers. The combat action is simply hack-n-slash. Each type of weapon as a different graphical style to them, with different ways of executing the combat, but you will see the same actions over and over as you plow your way through the enemies. There isn’t really anything remarkable to mention about the combat, except that you need to make sure you have some health and stamina items on you. If you run out of either, your fight is over.
And then there is the community aspect of the game. You have a relationship with every member in Portia. The more work you do for them, the more time you spend talking to them or engaging them, the more your reputation goes up or down, depending on how well or poorly you do. You can even marry someone from the town once they fall in love with you.
Which brings me to the community events. Every season there is one week where you have events to take part in to foster your relationship with the residents. In Spring, you have the fishing festival. In Autumn, you have the Portia cook-off. Winter brings the snowball fights and Summer has martial arts tournaments. Each of these awards you with special badges that you can trade in for unique seasonal items, and tons of reputation.
Finally, we have character development. As you level up, there are three branches that you can develop for your character: Combat, Resources and Relationships. Each level in each branch requires you to level up at least 5 times before you unlock the next tier. However, I have completed the game and am at level 50 and I am still busy only on the second of five tiers. That is mostly because of my obsession with leveling up every item in each tier completely before I more on. The game has endless years, so I can continue with the game post-story by crafting, mining and fighting to level up further. The end of the story doesn’t mean the end of the game.
This game is superb and has been masterfully crafted to be as immersive as possible. From crafting small swords to manufacturing large ships, every detail is very refined. However, I did encounter a few glitches. I’ve fought my way through an entire floor of a hazardous mine, just to find my character falling through the floor into an endless black abyss, causing me to stop and restart the game. Sometimes I would run to a resident to deliver his requested commission, but the icon to speak to them was not available, meaning I could not complete the commission. Restarting the game sorted this problem.
The base-size is limited, much like Fallout 76. You can only grow your plot to a certain size, and there is also a limit to how much can be placed on your plot. Once I had the full plot though, there was so much space left I was wondering what I was missing.
The game mechanic for saving is also not a favourite of mine. It is only when you sleep in-game that your game is saved. So that means, if anything happens to the game, or you need to switch off suddenly, when you play again you would need to restart the whole day. This has saved me once, where the game glitched badly and I had to go to a previous -in-game day that was saved. I do wish they had a manual save option though.
A rather massive disappointment is the lack of multiplayer for the console, mainly local multiplayer. My son loves playing these type of games with me, collecting resources for me while I do the crafting. The first thing he asked when he saw MTAP was if he could play with. He has played it by himself, but the enjoyment is playing the game with me.
I have been informed by the publisher that the console versions of the game will be receiving a massive update in about 2 – 3 weeks post-launch, but I have not been informed what these updates are just yet. Only that it will be to bring it in line with the latest updates of the PC version.
Despite some of the negative aspects I mentioned above, the gameplay still deserves a high score for just how addictive and enjoyable the game is to play. It didn’t stop me from playing until 3am for several mornings in a row.
SOUND AND GRAPHICS
I’ve come to love the cartoon-styled graphics of MTAP. Every detail is very beautiful, and I enjoyed how colourful the game is. As you upgrade the items in the game, including your base, it is stunning to watch them evolve.
There is no doubt in my mind how much work they put into the graphics. Everything ran seemlessly, and you can stare very far into the distance at the beautiful vistas. Even the water quality is beautiful to behold. I am also amazed at how many items they placed in the game, which is a far larger selection than most base-building games I have seen lately.
I also loved how you can photograph almost every aspect of the game. Selfies, group photos, dates, the bestiary of animals… this brought something to the game that I really enjoyed, allowing you to capture your favourite moments and save it in your photo album.
The music in the game is suited for every situation you find yourself in. There is the peaceful music when you are running around mining or crafting. There is the melodramatic atmosphere when someone is speaking to you during a main mission cutscene. And finally, the anxiety-filled orchestra while you fight enemies.
Unfortunately, a point must be lost for no voice-overs. This wouldn’t have been as bad if I didn’t know that the PC version has voice-overs. I am not sure why the voice sounds were ditched, if it was a licence issue. I just know that I prefer if games have voice-overs, and I feel something essential was lost to the game by removing them.
My Time at Portia is one of the most addictive RPG games I’ve played in a long time. With stunning graphics and a deep tale that draws you in, the game just keeps you coming back for more. While the game doesn’t feel entirely complete as yet, with promises of more stories to come, it is enough to make you fall in love with it for weeks on end. The only thing that I would really beg for would be for local multiplayer / splitscreen to be added.
My Time at Portia receives 9.5/10 for an overall score.