My Time at Portia – Early Access Preview
It’s always a good sign when I start a game, planning to play a few hours for an early access preview, and then get so engrossed that I play it for two weeks. There seem to be a lot of new games around now that focus on crafting and building (E.g. Subnautica, Staxel), so it takes something special to stand out from the crowd.
My Time at Portia is a simulation game where the main character runs a small workshop in a post-apocalyptic world. The game starts out with a bit of character customisation, then it’s straight into the plot and some crafting tasks. Right from the get-go, Portia seems to shine with charm. I really liked the bright, cute, cartoony look of all the characters, creatures and buildings. The game also features voice acting for all the quirky characters, though some lines seem have not been recorded yet.
I like crafting in games (even if collecting all the raw resources can be grindy), and the system in Portia is quite impressive. There is a big range of items to collect, transform and build. After passing my builder’s license test by crafting an axe and a pickaxe, followed by a furnace, I was given a commission to build … a bridge! This turned out be a satisfyingly complex task and was just one of a number of neat projects I worked on. After that I was able to choose from a selection of available commission jobs, which get updated daily, to earn money and workshop prestige.
It not all crafting though. There is a small economy where you can buy and sell various items. You can also upgrade and furnish your workshop. Additionally, there are mini-games such as fishing, and the ability to raise crops and animals. Forming relationships is also part of the game, and it’s possible to eventually marry a partner, although building relationship points is really slow going. Apart from the usual gifting and chatting, I will eventually (according to what I’ve seen in the patch notes), be able to go on dates with characters where we order meals at the local restaurant.
The town of Portia and its surrounds have really been brought to life, as people move around following their daily routines through a day/night cycle. There is also variable weather, with the occasional cool lightning storm. There are also plot threads to follow to keep things interesting and add a bit of drama to the proceedings. As an example, I managed to find some special coloured lenses. After taking them to the science centre, I discovered I could make some colour blindness correction lenses. I then found that one of the characters gave up his dream of running a hair salon because he’s colour blind. After giving him the glasses, he re-opened the salon for business. That ability to affect the land of Portia is cool, and that is not the only example.
Portia also has some fun combat too. It’s a simple system but was more than I expected in a game that draws so many parallels to Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley. Some dangerous areas hold rare components and I had to fight interesting enemies and even a boss to get them. In that respect, it is somewhat similar to Terarria.
I’m currently at a little over 40 days in my play-through, and I’m really keen to continue. There seems to be so much to discover. I’m surprised at how much content is available in an early access game that launched on Steam less than a month ago. I personally have not experienced any bugs or crashes yet, but the developers are actively working on the game and patches are being released regularly.
Portia itself seems huge and the game hints at other cities as well. I think this is one title that’s going to be taking up a lot of my gaming time. If this type of game appeals to you, don’t let the early access tag scare you off. I’ve had a really fun, solid experience so far.
My Time at Portia is developed by indie developer Panthea and was funded on Kickstarter in October 2017 and made available via Steam Early Access in January 2018.
Joel Guttenberg hearkens from the motherland in deepest, darkest southern Africa, but now calls Australia home. His interest in games led to a career in IT, both of which continue to this day. He occasionally wrangles electrons into stories that are hopefully fit for (e)print and never, ever, sleeps on the job.