An exciting new life simulation game, My Time at Portia, from Pathea Games has finally released on Nintendo Switch this week! We’ve had a full month of time with the game, so let’s find out exactly how it stands up in our full review.
So what exactly is My Time at Portia anyway? It’s cliche to make such blunt comparisons to other games but from my experience the simplest explanation might just be to call it Stardew Valley in 3D. There’s a vast open world to explore with plenty of characters to inhabit it, plenty of resources to gather and craft, and your very own plot of land to develop and decorate. And while Stardew Valley is focused on farming, My Time at Portia places more of an emphasis on crafting and combat.
Your time at Portia begins as a new aspiring builder taking over the workshop of your late father, throwing you right into the business of crafting and building for the town. Soon after, you’re tasked to complete various builder’s commissions for the town’s Mayor and other residents. Taking on these commissions can earn you currency, experience points, and improve your relationship with the residents.
As your first major task for Portia though, you must construct and install an entire bridge to a new island near your homeland to advance the main story. This is a common theme you’ll find in My Time at Portia with the story advancing by constructing major projects like this, not just a few tables or something! Building the bridge is no easy task either as it involves crafting plenty of different materials across five different crafting tables including a furnace, grinder, and cutter.
Of course, these items to build the bridge won’t just appear from out of thin air — you’ve got to gather all of the materials! Just like you’d expect, you can chop down trees with your axe, smash the rocks with your pickaxe, and slice the monsters with your sword all around the expansive world for loot.
Beyond the overworld you can head into the Abandoned Ruins, one of my most pleasant surprises of My Time at Portia, for even more materials. These ruins act as the mines to explore for all your mining ore and shiny gem needs, but the developer has taken a welcome twist on it compared to other games in the genre. Instead of simply navigating your way through a pre-built mines layout, you essentially get to just dig your own tunnel Minecraft-style through the stone to find valuable mineral!
That doesn’t mean you need to just dig aimlessly though as you’re equipped with a handy Relic Detector that can be used to scan the mines for hidden treasure, including relics and data discs. You can trade those in later at the Research Center to unlock new items and blueprints to craft. And sometimes you’ll even find a rare hidden door leading to a secret area with monsters to fight for extra loot!
Beyond the intense mining of Abandoned Ruins, there’s more complicated Hazardous Ruins locations that run you through a series of pre-designed dungeon crawling levels with environmental hazards and plenty of nasty monsters. You’ll find chests hidden around to crack open for extra loot too. It’s really fun going through these dungeons, including a boss at the end, and beyond what I expected to find in a game like Portia.
One frustrating experience I did encounter with combat though is the game over system. When your character dies, which can happen easily and unexpectedly early on if you run into the wrong monster, you’re presented with a Game Over screen booting you back in time to the very beginning of the day. While there isn’t any penalty, if this happens near the end of the day. that’s arguably far more frustrating than paying a fee. I won’t lie — I definitely ragequit the game for the day once when this happened to me.
It might feel from everything I’ve said so far that My Time at Portia is all about exploring mines and fighting monsters. While that is a big part, not to mention some of what I most enjoyed, there is so much more content than that. You can decorate your house with plenty of furniture, go deep into farming with planter boxes on your land, and of course do plenty of fishing!
And while it’s not really something I take much interest in personally, My Time at Portia has an extensive system of character relationships by giving gifts, unlocking special perks, and even going on dates or getting married! It’s definitely very much in the vein of Stardew Valley and that’s only a compliment to the game.
Admittedly, the beginnings of your adventure can be a bit of a rough start simply due to the amount of complicated crafting systems and items available. But once you get past the opening, there’s a lot of fun to be found here. It didn’t take me long to get sucked into Portia‘s core gameplay loop of gathering and crafting — it always feels like there’s more to accomplish the next day.
As of writing this review, I’m sitting at just a touch over 40 hours played so far, and I still feel as if I’m in the early to middle stage of the game with so much more content left to explore. Just going by the map alone, there’s still multiple large areas I haven’t been able to visit yet. I’ve got plenty more upgrades on my house and worktables to unlock too.
There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s more than enough content here to justify the asking price of $29.99. I suspect I can easily get another 50 hours out of My Time at Portia before reaching a natrual end point and I can’t wait to get right back into it soon! Not to mention, there’s an additional patch with even more content on the way in a few short weeks.
Nintendo Switch Version Woes
Unfortunately, as much as I’ve enjoyed the gameplay of My Time at Portia, there are a number of issues with the Nintendo Switch version specifically that need to be addressed.
Frame-rate Stutters Using Tools: The overall frame-rate when exploring is mostly 30 FPS, but there’s a small stutter in the frame-rate oftentimes you swing an axe to chop down a tree or slice an enemy with your sword. Tree chopping? Sure, just a minor inconvenience. But it can be quite an issue if you’re having sword stutters when engaged in an intense battle with multiple monsters.
Lengthy Initial Load Time: While the developer has addressed in-game loading times with a Day 1 patch, there are still very lengthy loading screens when loading the game for the first time from the Switch Home Menu, taking up to 5 minutes. You’ll want to keep the game on stand-by in your Switch’s sleep mode to pick up and play.
Please note that the load times in the video above have been greatly improved in an update released since the recording, however the video otherwise reflects the current state of the game on Nintendo Switch.
Interface Scaling: When playing on the TV in docked mode from a distance, it can require more leaning forward and squinting than feels comfortable to read the game’s plentiful amount of text. It’s not great in handheld mode either, but at least you can just bring the system up to your face if necessary.
Missing Voice Acting: The Nintendo Switch version is missing all voice acting present in the PC version. While this isn’t a concern most of the time, sometimes the game will transition to a full fledged cut-scene where you expect voices and it’s just jarringly silent with subtitles. The publisher Team 17 says the voiceovers were a community activity for the PC Early Access version of My Time At Portia and they are investigating the possibility of adding new voice content to the Switch version.
Despite these issues, I want to make clear that I’ve still had a good time playing My Time at Portia on Nintendo Switch and they won’t stop me from wanting to play more. And admittedly, I’m definitely someone who takes note of performance issues and can be easily bothered by them — I’m sure a lot of players won’t care at all. But I want to let you know about everything so you can make your own decision.
04/26 UPDATE: Team 17 has announced details on upcoming updates to My Time at Portia on Nintendo Switch, including possible changes to some of the issues outlined above.
Here’s the statement regarding specific issues raised in our review:
Our team are currently looking into incrementally improving console loading times further, as well as addressing the input lag which affects in-game menus and actions and the stuttering which occurs when carrying out certain activities in game (cutting trees, for example). We’ll have more information on this soon.
We’ve been collecting player feedback since My Time At Portia launched on consoles earlier this month and are currently investigating the below areas for implementation where possible:
- Adding voiceover
- Improvements to text size for better UI visibility
- Adding grass texture into the Switch version
- Creating an option to adjust the display area of the game
The first major update is expected to arrive in the next few weeks and will also add significant new content to the game. Check out all of the official details here.
What I Liked
- An expansive world to explore and enjoy
- Addicting gameplay loop of gathering and crafting you just won’t want to drop
- Unexpectedly fun mines and dungeons for the genre
What I Didn’t Like
- Frustrating issues with the Nintendo Switch port
- Absence of multiplayer is a sorely missed opportunity
The Bottom Line
At the end of the day, I have really enjoyed my time with My Time at Portia. I can’t wait to get back into exploring the world and gathering up all the materials I need to continue expanding my workshop and the rest of Portia. If you’re a fan of Stardew Valley, Fantasy Life, or Rune Factory, I think you’ll have a good time with My Time at Portia too. And there’s no doubt you can find your money well spent here with the vast amount of content packed in.
However, the issues currently present on the Nintendo Switch version do impact the experience. Are these issues enough to recommend against the game as a whole? I don’t think so, but it will depend on every player’s tolerance and expectations with performance, so be sure to take that into account before picking up the game. I hope to see these issues improved in the near future and we’ll be sure to keep you updated if that happens.
Full Disclosure: Big thanks to Team 17 for providing a digital review copy of My Time at Portia to Animal Crossing World.