My Time at Portia is an Adventure Life Simulation game that recently released for consoles, and it’s the evolution to the genre I’ve been waiting for since I first picked up Animal Crossing on the GameCube.
So what is My Time at Portia? This is a Life Simulation/Adventure game that emphasizes building and relationships. You come to Portia, which is a city in an “Alliance of Free Cities” with other local cities, and you have come here to help make it the best in the pack. The world is a post-apocalyptic world where humans live in relatively old times. Think something closer to the early 1900s, where some shun the technology of old (The Church of the Light), while others embrace it and want to use whatever they can to make civilization better. It’s actually rather similar to the story of Final Fantasy X, except there is greater acceptance than in Spira.
Anyways, you start with a rather simple character creator, and move into town to take over your father’s old workshop as an apprentice builder. It hasn’t been used in ages, so it’s in disarray and must be fixed up. In the beginning, you must first prove yourself before you obtain a builders license, which is pretty easy, and doing so introduces you to the game’s basic mechanics. The game gives you a glimpse of the characters and story fairly early on, which is pretty light-hearted, but that don’t let that make you think the game is shallow.
The NPC’s all have their own personalities, likes/dislikes, routines, and schedules. Many wake up early, work out, go to work, and help around the town. It’s a tranquil place where not much out of the ordinary goes on on a day to day basis. There are, however, regular events throughout your stay, and some even happen semi-regularly. There is a town meeting every Sunday, holidays are held on certain days, and even special events like a martial arts tournament to mix things up.
My Time at Portia slowly opens its world to you, and incrementally get’s more and more layered to keep the game challenging throughout your time playing. As my title says, the game is a very natural progression of the genre that has been needed since the first Animal Crossing. Nintendo’s Animal Crossing never really changes much. You move in, meet the characters, do small odd tasks, get money, upgrade your house, then rinse and repeat. My Time At Portia, however, frequently piles on more features all the while opening up the world at large in a satisfying way. You start small and slowly work your way upwards with greater tasks and commission work, as well as and odd jobs to make the town at large a better place to live. It’s a game I have found myself wanting to play every chance I get.
What’s more, it’s not just all talking and building. There are several mines of differing types that allow you to break up the pace of the game. Some are for mining materials and old relics, while others are almost like dungeons that let you take out your aggression and earn various crafting materials you may need. Along with NPC relationships that can blossom into marriage, farming, and an open world that can be explored that adds more to the experience. I think Pathea games managed to tick just about every box in an adequate way to keep people returning to the game.
My Time At Portia
I will say here, I didn’t manage to get to the end of the game (just yet), but I believe I have a fundamental understanding after making it to the third month of in-game time. I have made it to the second tier of workshop, and have decided which Portian I wish to pursue for marriage down the road. I have opened up several parts of the map that were otherwise locked out in the early game, and have dug out a significant portion of the first mine. In any case, I have found myself actively wanting to return to Portia to further my progress and make the city really shine.
This is a game that I have seen since it launched on PC in 2018, but never made the plunge on. After it made it to consoles, I’m glad I did. Even if the experience isn’t on par with the PC version. You see, the console versions lack a few things compared to the PC version. First off, and most notably is the voice acting, which is a pretty glaring omission. It’s also missing certain sound effects such as footsteps, opening doors, various ambient sounds and more. A big version update that brings in a lot of new things such as items, quests, QoL improvements and such is also missing. What’s more, it also performs worse, at least on the Switch, than it does on PC while also being downgraded in the graphics department.
The game has some frame rate issues in certain circumstances, such as dungeons or when there are several NPC’s on screen. And also tends to stutter when you finish something such as chopping down trees or mining. It also has a several second long lag whenever you open up a menu for crafting or a station to craft at. Which is really unfortunate when you consider this is the single thing you will do the most of. I watched a few streams of the PS4 and Xbox versions of the game, and it seems like these stutters and slow loading into menus is exclusive to the Switch version. I did run into a few graphical glitches, and even managed to get stuck on geometry more than once. The first time I managed to get out, but in the screenshot below (the one looking at the ground), I needed to wait until I passed out from exhaustion in order to progress. Luckily, the game does that to you at 3am if you’re still awake, and you’ll be brought back to your bed.
In the end, these are all (mostly) minor things, and many of them I didn’t even notice until I began to look into the other versions of the game. The sound effects and textures didn’t bother me. The lack of voice acting wasn’t even something I thought about, as it’s still not a staple in every game. The only thing that really bothered me was the performance issues. Even still though, I pushed through them because the rest of the game was just so fun I wanted to play more. Even if they never updated the game to fix these things, I wouldn’t be too peeved, but luckily that isn’t going to be the case.
My Time at Portia is a solid title that captured my attention far more than I expected it to. Minus its various issues that for the most part weren’t even on my radar to begin with, I continue to have a good time. Knowing what I do now about the game however, I almost want to start anew on PC simply for the superior experience. On the other hand, the portability of the Switch version is something I can’t ignore, especially in my current work situation.
The game offers a ton of content, and continues to get deeper the more I play it. The world expands as you play while continuing to challenge the player to keep them engaged. It has a cute aesthetic, but don’t let that fool you. My Time at Portia is a deep RPG that will keep you coming back for a long time to come.