Developed By: Pathea Games Published By: PM Studios Categories: Adventure, Simulation Release Date: 11.28.23 Price: $39.99 *An update for the game has since released, fixing many of the issues that are brought up in this review. You can read about the update here.
A few years ago, there was a period where My Time at Portia was one of my most favorite games on the Switch. I loved everything about the game from its building and combat mechanics to the characters and relationships. So, when I found out that there was going to be a sequel, I was really excited. I picked up my copy of My Time at Sandrock as soon as I was able to, but I was pretty disappointed with the final product. First let’s go over some of the things that I didn’t really like about the game.
I had many issues with the game, a few of them were minor inconveniences but there were some that made the game quite difficult. My biggest complaint was with the mechanism that stops you from going to places that you shouldn’t. This is done in one of two ways, the first is a simple invisible wall. The second method is that if you somehow get passed the barrier, the game will teleport you back to an area that it feels is safe.
This ended up basically soft locking me multiple times near the start of the game. There was one time where I fell off the side of a cliff but the area at the bottom was off limits at the time so the game kept sending me halfway up a building and re-spawning me in an area that I couldn’t escape from. Every time I would spawn, I would fall back to the off limit area and then spawn half way up again. It kept repeating over and over and took me dozens of attempts to get back up.
Sometimes the game wouldn’t send me back to where I was but instead it would teleport me to the other side of the off limit area. Without the ability to go through the off limit area to get back to my side, I was effectively stranded there. Most of the time I would look for other paths to get back, but I would keep entering an off limits area and it would keep resetting me back. This was a few hours into the game, and I had to start a brand new file because I could not find a path back to my area.
Sandrock is a game with a big open world and many reasons to explore but the moment I started exploring, these mechanisms would start freaking out on me. I don’t know if these glitches were only prevalent on the Switch version, and it stopped being a big issue after like ten hours but it made the game really difficult during the opening hours. This was my main complaint; the rest were minor issues such as the visuals and performance.
From a strictly performance standpoint, Sandrock was one of the worst games that I have seen on the Switch. However, that’s mostly a byproduct of it being an incredibly ambitious game on a seven year old system so it’s kind of expected. A few of the performance issues that I have seen included rendering issues, really bad framerate, and occasional slow combat. None of these were game breaking but they were all noticeable and sometimes distracting.
For example, there was a moment where I was walking and a windmill randomly popped into existence off in the distance. Until I got close to it, the framerate hovered between two and six FPS and the movement looked pretty ugly. Just like before, I’m pretty confident that this might have been an issue with just the Switch version or at least isn’t as bad on other versions.
As for the remainder of the visuals, Sandrock looks pretty good. The landscape is massive and can look amazing from a distance. When it comes to buildings, structures, and character designs, you can tell that there was a good amount of effort put into them. There are moments where the 3D models don’t look as good as they should but when there’s little movement on the screen, the game looks great.
When it comes to sound, the game can be a mixed bag to some players. There are moments where the voice acting seems a bit stiff and can sound more like narration than acting, but that’s really the only downside. Most of the voices sound good and it’s always a good sign when there’s a lot of voices. The rest of the sound design is pretty good as well, there are some good music tracks and great ambient noise scattered throughout the game. Between the visuals and sound, it’s a pretty decent and immersive experience.
Now that we got that out of the way, it’s time to talk about the best aspect of the game, which is the gameplay. I already spent some time mentioning how much I loved Portia and that was because of the gameplay. I loved the combination of building, exploring, combat, and relationship building. It’s all just as good in Sandrock, if not better. The main draw for me was how big the world is and how many things there are to do. There aren’t too many games with a building aspect like this that also give you a big exploration aspect.
It was a bit bothersome that you can’t cut down trees near the main town area but I quickly learned to make do with what I had. I also really loved interacting with all the people. When you’re first starting the game, you’re brought to Sandrock because you’re being hired as one of the two new builders. You spend the first few hours meeting all the different characters and figuring out what your role is while learning how and what to build. After doing all the tutorial stuff, I had lots of fun picking out who my favorite characters were and working on their relationships.
The game also has a lot of replayability if you want to get the full amount of content from each character and that makes this one of the best games in terms of amount of content. A single playthrough of just the important stuff could cost you 60 hours which itself is insane. But if you do everything the game has to offer, you can easily push past 130 hours.
My Time at Sandrock is not a bad game at all but the Switch version suffers a lot because of the technical issues. Even though the game has 100 hours of content, not that many people will be able to make it that far because of those issues but it’s still a really fun game. Just because this is the weakest version of a really good game, doesn’t mean that the game itself is bad automatically. Personally I would suggest getting the game on another console or waiting for the Switch version to dip to around $30 or less because it’s still worth playing.