These are difficult and trying times for people around the world. Many in my generation have adopted more and more responsibilities, such as working fulltime jobs, caring for children, and nursing sickly parents. And then COVID-19 hit us. Now we may or may not work fulltime jobs, and we are worried sick about our children and elderly parents contracting the worldwide disease. We cannot deny COVID-19 will alter the ebb and flow of society and its economy. But playing My Time at Portia might just ready us for life after quarantine…or I might just be telling my readers about the best PC video game ever created.
The Story Behind My Time at Portia
Pathea Games released My Time at Portia on January 15th, 2019. Marketed as a peaceful, crafting game with an adventurous storyline, the video game bases the player as a customizable character who arrives as a newcomer to the town of Portia. There the character competes with Higgins—the only NPC (non-playable character) whom the player will never befriend—as one of the town’s best builders. The main storyline has the player joining with Portia’s Civil Corps on perilous adventures, fighting unique monsters, and rebuilding Portia as a respectable city after the apocalypse.
Many gamers complain about the game’s length, but I personally didn’t mind the long play time. When the storyline seemed to be stagnating, I used the time to advance my personal levels. Doing so required cutting trees, quarrying stones, mining in abandoned ruins, combatting monsters, gathering resources, and building from the workbench or assembly station. Nearly everything will gather experience for the player, with cooking and eating being a couple of exceptions. Leveling up gains the player points that are applied to the skill tree, which include the combat tier, the gathering tier, and the social tier. I most frequently fill the combat tree since my personal gaming skills at fighting are so poor.
The NPCs in My Time at Portia
Many NPCs exist for the player to befriend, marry, and have children with. There exist 59 NPCs, human and android, and five different types of animals in Portia. Twenty-eight of these characters are candidates for marriage – some more desirable than others. For example, Civil Corps member Sam, smart and sassy, makes a very desirable mate for her spunk and enthusiasm. Doctor Xu is kind, gentle, and intelligent, qualities which also make him a good choice for a partner. The Hulu brothers also stand as marriage candidates. However, I personally find their physical appearance and simple pursuits as less desirable. I could also say the same for Sonia. Who is my personal favorite of all the NPCs? Beyond any question of a doubt, it’s Arlo, captain of the Civil Corps. Simply play the game, go on a few dates with him, and ask him to be your boyfriend. Then you’ll know why.
But what is a play date like in My Time at Portia? Players can hang out with married or unmarried NPCs to get to know them better. These play dates—or simply “dates” if in a relationship with an NPC—are very detailed activities that the player can choose to do. Play dates include talking to the NPC, giving the NPC a gift, eating at Django’s Round Table, and playing on the swing or seesaw. More activities become available as the storyline progresses, such as drawing in the sand, lighting fireworks, or going through the Haunted Cave. Those who dislike socializing in games may find all of this irritating. If that is the case, then I recommend only giving presents to the NPCs, because marriage seems to be a final requirement for the last of the storyline.
Sound, Graphics, & Playability of My Time at Portia
My husband is a highly experienced gamer. When I asked for his opinion, he stated, “My Time at Portia on the PC version has remarkable graphics and physics compared to the Switch version of the game.” Stated differently, there is beauty in how the grass in the fields wave, wonder in how shadows fall onto players and NPCs, and awe in the detail of post-apocalyptic buildings. The only complaint I’ve ever heard about the graphics was from a friend who disliked the cartoonish large heads of the player and the NPCs.
The soundtrack for My Time at Portia has broad emotional ranges, from keeping the players upbeat and alert or moving the players to tears. My personal favorites are “The Season of Harvest,” “White Out,” and “Battle for Survival.” If other players find the game as enjoyable as I did, then the ending music of strings and piano paired with the closing scenes will cause them to weep for the main storyline being over. I certainly did.
When the PC video game first appeared, the playability was more than a little rough. Whenever the builder’s workbook was opened to craft at the assembly station at the day’s end, the game would frequently crash. Thankfully the game developers seem to have finally almost completely solved this issue, so crashes are few and far between. There were also a few bugs, but some of those have been fixed as well. There was one bug I rather liked which involved Arlo following the player from dawn until bedtime for several days. I personally used this bug by having Arlo help me fight in the Hazardous Ruins. Other than these few issues, the game runs extremely smoothly.
Personal Opinion & Conclusion
I recommend this PC video game for every gamer who loves peaceful gaming. Though the crashing was highly frustrating, the ultimate gameplay made the irritation irrelevant and the time worthwhile. The NPCs are loveable, especially if you continuously give them gifts that they love, and the adventurous storyline is engaging, considering that the monsters you fight continuously upgrade in combat levels.
Finally, why do I recommend for PC gamers to play this game in preparation for a future after COVID-19 quarantine? The quarantine is causing the economy to sink into a recession or a depression with all of the businesses closing temporarily or permanently. The resulting social economy—as our beloved Baby Boomers are dying of natural causes or as a result of the pandemic—may turn out more similar to Portia than we care to think. Already the town next to where I live is experiencing looting for supplies, and I pray that society as we know it doesn’t worsen from here.
My Time at Portia on the PC version gives players not only enjoyment with perilous adventures and timeless friendships, but also an eye-opening experience of Pathea Games and Team 17’s idea of a post-apocalyptic world.