Review My Time at Portia (Switch)

Game: My Time at Portia
System: Nintendo Switch
Developer/ Publisher: Pathea Games/ Team17
Price: €29,99| £24.99| $ 29.99
Age Rating: EU 7+| USA 10+
Release Date: 16th April
Also Available On: Steam

Review code kindly provided by Team17

Cast your mind back to September 2017 when Pathea Games launched their Kickstarter campaign for My Time at Portia. The campaign managed to generate funding of $146,697, put up by 3,708 backers, while the goal was $ 100.000. All but one stretch goal was met, so the team could roll up their sleeves and get to work. A huge success, in a time when Kickstarter wasn’t as widely known as it is now. The Chinese development team used some magical words in describing their project: gameplay like Animal Crossing and Harvest Moon.

Team 17 joined the project to publish the game and a successful launch on Steam followed. Now, it’s time to release My Time at Portia on all gaming consoles. Including the Switch. Time to look at this simulation game on a handheld device!

The town folk are a welcoming bunch!

Taking over where your dad left off

Starting the game, you are greeted by lots of customisation options. Choose the way your character looks in facial features, colouring and clothes. You are a young builder, and you have just inherited your father’s workshop in Portia. Upon first glance, the town and the vistas around it look beautiful. Like it’s painted in watercolours on a sunny day.

The map of the world shows locations and quests

Your own workshop is a little worse for wear, so you’ve got your work cut out. The floor is full of holes and furnished with just a single bed. But no matter: going into town it soon seems you can follow in your father’s footsteps and raise the reputation of your little workshop again by taking on commissions.

Assignments and quests will get you going

The Commerce Guild is very accommodating in giving you your first assignments after you’ve been given permission by the major. And people all over town and in the outlying farms are glad to give you some small jobs to do. Aside from these smaller quests, of which some have an expiry date, main quests continue to trigger over time.

These quests are rarely straightforward affairs, which only adds to the charm of the game. I call them “nesting” assignments: using the materials you have gathered or foraged to turn raw materials into items. And these items, in turn, are transformed again using your machinery into new products. First, though, you’ll have to make the machine too!

The DeeDee: one of the challenging assignments for the workshop

So sometimes you need to craft on the work table that is already there, others on one of the machines you will have to make. When you start out, you have a basic worktable and an assembly station. A Handbook shows what machinery and structures you can build on your assembly station. New diagrams may be needed for machines and other devices in your crafting handbook, and for that, you need to visit the research centre.

Be warned: a veritable time-sink…but then, that’s what we like!

Often, in a simulation game that combines many elements, there’s one or two sides to the game that have been fleshed out well, with the other elements added as an afterthought. Portia tries to combine a lot:

  • Crafting with the work table, the assembly station and an array of machinery
  • Foraging, with all the things you can pick up highlighted in a sparkle and your axe and pickaxe at your side for stone and wood
  • Farming, to be done in planter boxes that you have to make first
  • Cooking on the cooking set you have to make yourself
  • Socializing by chatting, doing chores, sparring or playing rock/paper/scissors
  • Mining where you not only find materials but also relics from the past
  • Fighting and exploring the dungeons
The Handbook with its blueprints

Question is, does it succeed in combining them? My answer is yes: everything is worked out well. Crafting is ace, the assembly station with the blueprints you can collect is really ace. It reminds me of the first MySims on the Wii, with a building feature I enjoyed a lot too. In foraging there are many things to find and collect, although slaying some of the animals out in the fields doesn’t feel right to me. That’s what you get for introducing a colourful lama!

All the game-elements are accounted for

The social scene in Portia is huge. 28 marriage candidates, 18 other adults, 5 children and 5 pets that are sure to attract your attention. Plus, you’ll meet others who sometimes come for a visit. You can chat with people and spar with them, and of course choose which one you will want to marry. There are special festive days and birthdays, so never a dull moment.

The social scene in Portia

In farming there are several animals to keep, and various animals you can ride. Growing crops isn’t done in the ground like usual in a farming sim. You have to make planter boxes to grow crops in. Small ones for regular crops, and large ones for trees. They don’t need to be watered, but they do need regular fertiliser to grow well. The seasons do have an impact though.

Mining is an activity that I like a lot, or Ruin Diving as it’s called in the game. It reminds me of how we used to mine in Pokémon Platinum, trying to find gems and fossil Pokémon. You have to get the hang of it first, using your Relic Detector and Jet Pack, but when you do, it’s very soothing to do. Find ores and other raw materials, but also Data Discs and old-world technology which you need to get new blueprints. And you find various parts of relics that can be combined in new items later on.

Fighting and exploring the dungeons: As expected with the opportunity to spar with the townsfolk, fighting is a well fleshed out element too. And you need it, as some of the main quests progression hangs on your ability to slay mini-bosses. To get better weapons you have to craft them yourself, as well as protective clothing and accessories to better your stats, or attributes as it’s called in the game.

Creepy guys, these Rats in the Cave

What surprised me is that even putting certain furniture in your house will better your attributes. And added to that, there are skills or ability enhancers too. Lots to play with!

Graphics, Designs & Soundtrack

I’ve remarked earlier in the review about the graphics of My Time at Portia, it’s really lovely to look at. The colours are soft, and it’s the detailing that is really mind blowing. Often in games the visuals are good, but when you look closer, things get more barren. In Portia, you see paintings on the walls of houses, posters with real text on the city walls etc. I love that!

I must mention though that sometimes the graphics don’t respond as they should. Standing on a rock hacking away at it, my leg has been known to disappear. And at times the framerate can lag a bit. It doesn’t annoy me however playing the game in handheld mode, and never deducts from my gameplay.

In the preview version I had there was an issue with overly long loading times. Team17 has reached out however telling us this will be resolved in an update. I do hope they will address some of the lagging issues as well. I only play my game on handheld, and as mentioned, it doesn’t deduct from my gameplay. However, I do feel that for the price they had better fix these things quick.

The developers have added some funny things to remind you you are playing a video game. For instance, the phone booth in Peach Plaza lets you “talk” with Pathea Games. It’s a pre-recorded message of course, but it still made me smile.

Conversing with the developers

The soundtrack is neat, the music in various scenes is a joy to listen to. I have a Gaming Music playlist on my phone, and if I can find the music online, you can be sure I will add this to it.

Additional Comments

This game has so, so much to do. Sometimes it feels as if I will never do more then scratch the surface. And then all of a sudden I have a breakthrough and the main story progresses nicely. The storyline is good, due to the way Pathea took pains to work out the history of Portia. Check out this interview if you want to know more about why Portia is the way it is now.

This is what your workshop could look like… eventually

To give you an idea about what kind of game you can expect playing My Time at Portia: much like Stardew Valley if offers such a lot, though I must say I much prefer the visual style of Portia to Stardew. Animal Crossing is named as inspiration. Inspiration, yes, but I don’t feel it’s anything like that. If you’ve played Rune Factory, then you’ll have a good idea about what to expect though.

Overall Opinion

For fans of simulation games, My Time at Portia has all the elements: farming, questing, fighting and socialising. Not only that, they are all implemented equally well. My Time at Portia offers a very well rounded package with spades of content. A veritable time sink.

I do feel some things have to be ironed out, like the loading times and the lagging here and there. For the price of the game, they had better make sure it’s addressed quickly. That having been said, the Switch holds too few of these ace simulation games that combines all the gameplay I want so well.

Overall I conclude that My Time at Portia gets a Two Thumbs Up from us at My criteria still holds: if I’d be stuck on a deserted island, I’d want this game with me!

If you are a fan of simulation games and like them to have goals, quests and some fighting as well, I can definitely recommend My Time at Portia!

If you are picking up the game, it’s difficult at first to let go of any preconceptions you already have due to playing Harvest Moon.  This guide for the first gaming days should help!

Two Thumbs Up Rating


    1. It also depends on your budget, Stardew Valley is a lot cheaper.
      Like Yvonne I don’t particularly like retro style games either, but I loved Stardew Valley anyway.
      But ‘My Time at Portia’ does look amazing! I’m sure I would love it.
      Conclusion : There are no wrong decisions here!

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