The market for role-playing life sims is huge. Whether your first experience with the genre was Story of Seasons or Stardew Valley, you might be one of the millions of people addicted to these sorts adventures. I’ve fallen down this particular rabbit hole a few times. One I tripped into was My Time at Portia, and the sequel My Time at Sandrock looks to be another fun adventure for people who enjoy losing track of time. What’s even better is that you don’t need to have played My Time at Portia. Turns out that both games practically share a timeline.
Right off the train, My Time at Sandrock oozes familiarity. From the aesthetics to the assembly platform, your Builder moves and interacts with the world in almost the same way as in Portia. Which is fantastic for continuity. But while much of the game plays and looks the same, there are some very important differences. Most notably is Sandrock’s location within the world. This desert town relies on regular train deliveries from other cities in order to survive.
There’s a single water resource to supply the entire town. Should anything happen to it, the consequences would be dire. By extension, living trees and cacti are considered off limits. Your Builder will need to scour the sands and nearby ruins for salvageable debris or purchase materials from the local shops. The residents of Sandrock also try to reuse as much as possible. For instance, when the performance stage is damaged during a sandstorm, the town builders are asked to repurpose as much of the platform structure as possible. Even the smallest scraps of wood, stone, and rubber shouldn’t go to waste. You can even harvest morning dew as a means of keeping your water resources stocked.
Something I appreciate in this second game is that you aren’t the only new Builder in town. Sandrock decided to replace the retiring builder Mason with two fresh, young faces. When emergency situations arise, the story quest workload tends to be split between them. This move quickens the sequel’s pace, something I know people considered a touch slow in My Time at Portia. Most story commissions aren’t on a strict schedule, though. You can spend all the time you want or need on notices from the commission board or stockpiling resources.
When you aren’t searching for supplies, fighting monsters, or building up your workshop, there’s time to get to know your neighbours and pursue romantic entanglements. While not every person in town can be wooed, you’ll want to boost friendship levels. Gift-giving and successfully completing commissions are the best ways to earn points. Right now, I’m building up relationship points with Heidi, the town architect, and the owner of the town’s inn, Owen. They are my top two marriage contenders at the moment. Who knows. Maybe someone else will mosey into Sandrock the further I get into the story.
If you do decide to hop into My Time at Sandrock, I recommend holding out for the official release. My preview is based on the alpha state of the game, which hasn’t been the smoothest ride. There are glitched quests in which the 3D models freeze or don’t load correctly. Task manager was the only way I could shutdown and restart the game. Some text hasn’t been translated or edited (I’m looking at you “cancle!”), and controller support hasn’t been fully integrated. It’s a little rough around the edges right now, and you can spare yourselves these larger headaches by waiting a touch longer.
My Time at Sandrock is currently in Early Access on Steam and scheduled for release on May 26, 2022.