There’s something I’ve noticed about early access games. The ones that turn into the best final products are the ones where the core gameplay remains the same. The final release is simply offering more of the experiences you enjoy in a finely-tuned package. Slime Rancher is one of those games. The basics have always remained the same, and each of Monomi Park’s updates has worked to flesh out the Far, Far Range’s wildlife, give us more decorations and better means of production, and make the characters and challenges more engaging. We’re still sucking up slimes, dropping them into pens, and collecting their adorable droppings for money. Just now, we’re doing it on a larger scale.
For those who haven’t played it yet, Slime Rancher is a first-person collecting and exploration game. You are Beatrix, a woman who has come to a planet called the Far, Far Range to take over a slime ranch that has fallen into disrepair. Your goal is to make the most of your new frontier life. That’s it. Yes, the game can “end” in Adventure mode by visiting The Grotto, The Overgrowth, The Lab, The Docks, The Slime Sea, The Dry Reef, The Moss Blanket, The Indigo Quarry, The Ancient Ruins, and The Glass Desert, see all message nodes the ranch’s former owner, Hobson, left for you, and read every email Casey, your friend on Earth, has sent you. But even then, the end isn’t the end. After the credits, you still get to keep going.
There are so many slimes on the Far, Far Range now. Best of all, even when they are hazardous to our health, they are adorable. We went from a game where all we really had to collect were Pink, Phosphor, Rock, and Tabby Slimes. Now, we also have Boom, Honey, Puddle, Rad, Hunter, Crystal, Quantum, Mosaic, Fire, Tangle, and Dervish Slimes. Each looks different. They have their own special behaviors and attitudes. If you’re willing to be careful and build up elaborate paddocks on your ranch, you can make hybrid Largos by feeding them plorts from another variety to create a mix of two different slimes. While certain slime byproducts are more valuable than others, meaning a Dervish or Mosaic will help you make money faster, that isn’t what Slime Rancher is about. Rather, you can collect and raise the ones you like the most and profit off of that.
It isn’t like you have to really worry about Slime Rancher expenditures. NPCs will request certain plorts, produce, slimes, or products in exchange for some sort of reward. When you get money from selling items, you can invest it back into corrals for slimes, coops for chickens, ponds for Puddle Slimes or water, silos for storage, and incinerators for disposal. You can upgrade your Vacpack to increase its sucking power, speed, health, jumping ability, space, and open treasure pods. If you have extra funds after all the upgrades you need, you can buy the lab and use it to create gadgets like extractors to get materials, utilities to help you do your job, warp tech to create shortcuts, decorate your areas, and have curios like a Slimeball Hoop and fashion accessories for your slimes. Everything that is there is optional and designed to enhance your experience by making it easier to explore and grab slimes, customize your experience, and make you happy.
It even feels like Slime Rancher has more personality now. Part of this is because the NPCs are more fleshed out and Beatrix has an actual face. We can see the character we are playing as now, when we head into her home. We can see every email from Casey and, if we explore enough on the Far, Far Range, all of the Hobson journals. I think it was the Casey emails that really made her feel real to me. We never see Beatrix’s replies, but what Casey says is enough to tell us worlds about their relationships and memories. As for Hobson, there is a comfort in knowing more about everything he did in his time on the ranch.
Slime Rancher was always this heartwarming and immersive romp where you could collect slimes, explore an alien world, and make a ranch your own. It’s always had these simple mechanics that could get deeper, should you attempt to create hybrids and expand your farm. Now that it has officially launched, it gives people more to do. It fleshes out our avatar, Beatrix, via emails with someone important to her. We also learn more about the Far, Far Range, ranch, and former owner via his now complete notes. It’s a richer romp, and one that people who have been playing for months or are only just picking it up will appreciate.
Slime Rancher is available for the PC and Xbox One.