You’re a builder! CAN YOU FIX IT? (probably but it’ll take some patches)
A brand new action RPG life sim will make its way from steam to home consoles this month in the form of the charming little kickstarter My time at Portia the title from Pathea games will be published for Ps4, Nintendo switch and Xbox One by Team 17 on the 16th of April and will be available digitally with a Physical version available thanks to a partisanship with SoldOut.
My Time at Portia sees you take up the role of the towns newest inhabitant, YOURSELF! (or as close as you can make the avatar look to yourself that is) a young man/Women descended from survivors of the end of the world over 300 years prior caused by humanity’s desire to reach the lofty station of gods only to ultimately lead to its destruction. Soon after you arrive you will quickly find out that your father once lived and worked near the town as a builder in his workshop, that you have now come to inherit along with his note book and a short letter. With this, your journey to follow in your seemingly estranged parents footsteps and literally build a new life for yourself begins. A short tutorial plays out teaching you the basics of running a workshop along with meeting a few of the faces you will encounter in town, with new areas opening up as you progress the story and help the townsfolk.
Both the titles main story and sub stories come in the form of quests of one form or another, ranging from (but not limited to) building or gathering items, and affect the games progress and the growth of Portia even unlocking new features while expanding on the games story and back story as well as those of the games characters I cant help but find my self surprised just how detailed the characters back story’s, likes and interest’s are and how each relationship or quest can intertwine with each other.
If in part this sounds like titles such as Harvest Moon or Rune Factory, then I am glad to see that I’m not the only one that drew the conclusion that such titles had an influence over Portia. Due to this I feel safe in saying fans of those series will quickly come to feel at home in Portia, and those starting with Portia will find that those titles are a quick fit for them.
I will commend Portia on its story and how the branching freedom of choice for a lot of it keeps the flow of the game without feeling bogged down by huge walls of text. For the most part with the story coming in bite sized requests, conversations and mini cut scenes.
Graphically Portia is a splendor of bright colors and cartoony characters that instantly drew me in quickly affirming it would be a title I would be spending quite some time with thanks to the scenery and the creatures roaming the fields of the town and surrounding areas. While its not photo realistic some current gen titles strive for the charming world feels true to games in its niche bracket and likely wont disappointment fans of said niche based on pure visual aesthetic.
Unfortunately this is where things start to go awry somewhat. Disappointingly, while its true any writer here will tell you we almost always expect bugs of some kind in current gen titles and more so yet arguably somewhat more forgivinglly in those with smaller teams or indie titles Portia is home to a plethora of them, While these are mostly simple annoyances over anything truly game breaking and come mostly in the form of graphical errors ranging from frame rate drops to whole buildings been vacant from the game world or enemy’s and NPC’s passing through terrain. Just to name a few.
As I stated for the most part these are simple annoyances as you can still interact with missing objects to the same effect as normal or even provide some benefit to the player in others for example accidentally cloning items or beating mini games easier. While these issues are easily brushed off and will likely be patched there are also much more serious issues surrounding the game for instance freezes that leave the game wholly unresponsive leading to a total restart thankfully the game saves with each day meaning little progress is lost and these are less frequent than the graphical errors or avoidable in terms of progression lets hope to see a patch fix that.
The bugs also transfer across to the games audio with the background music seemingly dropping from my game only to return after hitting a loading screen as well as sound effects been slightly off time in combat or less distinct than others of the same type. As a side note I will point out the lack of voice acting or any sound in cut scenes was somewhat disappointing i can accept the lack of MC voice actor just fine my real problem with this is the utter lack of any sound be that BGM or SFX both things that exist in the game already with the lack of it just feeling odd and ruining any immersion into the latest Revelation in the games plot oddly enough however some of these shorts are kinda cool with one character been the cross between Neo and The One (old Jet Li film!) and laying a pretty epic smackdown on giant rats.
Game play is were this title really shines and the reason that I hand continued to keep playing despite the issues iv had. Honestly despite the negativity above I’m so glad I can finally say something positive about this title given the amount of time I have put in in the last 2 weeks, suffice to say Portia boasts 60+ hours of game play and I have exceeded that. The game is made up of many features that all inter connect and work in unison with each other while becoming more streamlined as you progress and skill up. while I wont go into detail about each and every one here ill list a few.
Building!- build items using materials you gather to complete requests and progress the story or even equipment and other items to aid in your adventures some items even change the landscape of the world or unlock new areas!
Friendship/love – Portia offers a rather in depth relationship system that sees you take the townsfolk from strangers to something more meaningful like friend, best friend, girlfriend, lover, wife/husband or soulmate with stages of your relationship giving a range of unique rewards or perks ranging from items to discounts in stores. Portia also go’s beyond simply gifting to get closer to people also offering the option to hang out or go on a range of dates. (on a side note as well as marriage the game also offers same sex marriage +1)
Keep animals – as well as building gadgets and weapons you may also keep a variety of animals such as horses, Chickens ,cows or even fish as well as grow crops or trees while this is more of a side feature its a nice addition that dose not take away from the main game and providing some benefits .
Splunking – one of the key elements of the game will be diving into ruins of the old world to dig up ores or relics used for building or decoration. Some of the more dangerous hazardous ruins see you fight monsters as you require rarer materials or level up.
Events – Portia has a number of annual events in its calender that are essentially mini-games that offer unique rewards from trading in badges you earn from participation these events come in a number of forms such as a simple winter hotpot or horse racing these minigames are a fun way to break up game play and see the whole town come together and interact.
Fishing – pretty self explanatory
Like Rune Factory Portia also offers combat as a feature seeing you equip yourself with weapons such as swords, guns or knuckles as well as armor and stat boosting accessories in order to hunt creatures such as cute Innocent colourful lamas or the more deadly inhabitants of old world ruins. Combat is in real time action style with keys set for swinging your weapon or dodging over all is a strait forward processes and offers little challenge until late game unless of course you decide to take on level 20’s at level 1. the combat dose however suffer a little from the frame rate drops I had mentioned above with broken attack animations and delays in your actions such as rolling.
This brings me onto my next point leveling will happen naturally as you play through the game as almost everything grants exp to some degree outside of the clear stats and stamina boosts you receive from leveling up you will also acquire skill points that can be used to increase your combat efficiency or even to increase your loot or gathering yield or even your social skills making it easier to get good deals on items or become friends with people the skill tree itself is fairly comprehensive for building your character your way with out any meaningless clutter.
One of the things I liked most about Portia’s gameplay is the fact that the world you become a part of feels alive to a point, the townspeople are not simply there to forfill your needs but have lives of there own and while this is basic due to the restraints of there programming the characters will go hang out or go about there day to day jobs even go fishing or take naps under trees or seemingly go on dates with one another as stated this is basic and cant exceed what is programmed of them however it helps it feel a lot more natural than if the NPC’s were waiting around to for fill there roles without a doubt the longer you play the more you will see the patterns coming through and be more likely to predict the NPCS movements or requests its just fun watching your nemesis work his butt of to beat you to the rankings or a bear go fishing in the stream while your going about your day the world of Portia continues to spin.
The freedom over your time and progression is also a welcome feature while some requests do have time limits most of the ones that do are optional or “bonuses”, the main story itself for the most part is progress-able at your own pace meaning if your running low on materials you can take a season of to gather items ore explore ruins or even spend it with that special virtual someone alowing for you to enjoy the game at your own leisure.
Overall I have to say Portia does many things games before it have done before and while individually there passable when working in unison as well as they do in this title it makes for an enjoyable experience that seems ideally streamlined to negate a majority of the grind of such titles.
I wish I could have scored this game higher as I truly enjoyed my time with it but the fact of it seemingly been the Steam early Beta version riddled with so many bugs that if it were a colourful lama id have to call the vet to come put it down and bury it in a old world ruin before sealing it up.
This Part I initially stated that the title was not “broken” just damaged with the hope of the game builders at Pathea would Patch the cracks and bring us the features the steam version has sadly after using my god like Otaku powers over the last 2 weeks to play the game and bring you this review it would seem I’m unable to finish it after 160 hours (no that’s not a typo that’s around 9-10 hours a day) I can not load my data on Portia that’s my game data’s, my back up data’s, or my cloud storage data so rather than loose a hour or so this time time I lost it all including two weeks of my life and I wont even get to see the end sad Otaku
Edit 2 There has been talk of a ps4 patch to improve load times as well as a free DLC to add new features on the games face book page if the details are accurate this will see the implementation of children both via pregnancy and adoption also.
Pros LOT’s of different activities to do. In depth relationship system with same sex marriage. Colourful fun world full of life.
Cons Bugs, bugs, bugs freezes can causes loss of some progress. Combat isn’t as smooth as it should be Utter loss of data and two weeks of life