My Time At Portia REVIEW
PAT PILCHER discovers a rarity: a game that you can happily play on your phone that’s immersive and entertaining over the long haul.
As I sailed into the city of Portia, I couldn’t help but wonder how this was going to play out. Normally I limit gaming on my phone to the simple sort of casual games you can pick up, play, and then put down. I was hoping that My Time At Portia would be a) very addictive, b) detailed, and at the very least, c) a novel experience.
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After a full month of gaming, I can safely say that it’s a pleasant, addictive and above all, fun to play (even for a mobile) game. With most mobile games, I’ve played them, figured them out, got bored, and uninstalled them, all within a few days. But not My Time At Portia. Even now, I’m still finding more to explore and build. The game is essentially a town sim that emphasises building and resource management. It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.
The back story is pretty much the staple of many other titles. In the game, people are rebuilding human civilization after it was destroyed (how I have no idea). Humanity came up from underground settlements, city-states formed, and there you have Portia.
Your character arrives via boat to pick up where their dad left off to become a builder. It’s an elegant introduction and useful means for getting you enmeshed in Portia’s history and, of course, the game.
As things kick off, you’ll find yourself learning a lot of in-game history and meeting many of the game’s characters. The objectives are straightforward though: expand Portia by becoming the best builder in town.
On the graphics front, everything is well set up for mobile use. On my phone, I had a directional pad on the left and action buttons on the right. I also liked that HUD elements didn’t clutter things up. The cartoony graphics are pleasant and add to the feel of Portia being exceptionally well designed.
For casual gamers, a big win is that the game lets you explore everything at your own pace. That said, the pace picked up quickly once I found myself committed to building assignments: gathering resources by mining for ore, collecting wood, and fighting monsters (not sure just what that’s got to do with building, but there you go).
The building part kicks off by you gathering wood and rocks. Before long, however, larger build projects have me chopping trees down with a chainsaw. As the game progresses, various powerups (such as the chainsaw) allow me to collect resources faster. These prove useful and are well-timed, stopping gameplay from becoming a repetitive chore. New tools help me grow as build projects increase in scope and scale.
Building aside, you also get to participate in Portia’s many activities, all of which are minigames. There are many minigames, and they provide a welcome variation to gameplay, which helps keep everything fresh and engaging.
The big learning curve I had early on involved figuring out how to build relationships. This is a crucial part of gameplay and will land you most of your building work. The relationship system relies on chatting with NPCs every day, bunging gifts, and competitive games or even wrestling for relationship points. While I loved the building and exploring parts of My Time At Portia, I found the whole relationship thing bit of a chore that simply took way too long. The relationship system even extends to marriage. Best of all, your spouse can help around your workshop and get you useful stat bonuses. While the relationship system is, I feel, overemphasised in the game, it is worth investing the time as it’ll make a huge difference to gameplay. I just wish it wasn’t so much of a chore.
A more fun aspect is its RPG gameplay. It’s easy to pick up and provides a good change from the many other tasks that make up the game. As you progress, your stamina, health, attack, and defense capabilities all improve. If by now you’re thinking that there is a lot of detail and depth in this wee mobile game, you’d be totally right. It had more than enough going on to keep me plenty engaged.
My Time At Portia may be all about building, but there’s tonnes of other stuff to do, and it all happens at a pace that makes for great long-term playability. Where I usually tap out all a game has on offer in a few days, I’m still discovering and unlocking new things after a month’s gameplay. Above all, it is a lot of fun and incredibly addictive. If you’re looking for a solid game for your phone/PlayStation or Switch, My Time At Portia is a good bet.