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cover-My Time at Sandrock

Sunday, May 28, 2023 4:19:49 AM

My Time at Sandrock Review (Minoru)

Personal Rating: 8/10
Early Access Review: “Knives Out” update (V03.05...)

✅ Pros:
❌ Cons:

* Satisfactory item crafting system.
* An interesting cast of characters.
* Colorful graphics despite its desertic setting.
* Great soundtrack. Each season has at least two themes and one night theme.
* Small, but important things; you can change how fast or slow the in-game time progress and customize the calendar with your own notifications.

* Glitches: AI pathing with NPCs getting stuck, menu map disappearing, terrain rendering issues...
* Outrageous startup loading time.
* Questionable game balancing decisions.
* Combat still has little depth.
* NPC day-to-day dialogue is repetitive.

💭 First Thoughts:

My Time at Sandrock (MtaS) is the sequel to My Time at Portia and similar to games like Rune Factory and Stardew Valley, but instead of focusing on farming and animal raising, it focuses primarily on item crafting and micromanaging your machines.
There *are* farming aspects like plant/animal growing, but those are hardly how you’ll make money in MtaS and very basic compared to any other dedicated Farm Simulator like Story of Seasons.
The presentation here is very good: for a game set in a desertic region the game graphics manage to be bright and colorful enough to prevent your eyes from getting bored from all shades of brown you knew and probably the ones you didn’t.

🔧 A Builder, not (just) a Farmer

What makes this game differ from the majority of Farming Sims out there is that your main source of income will be through commissions you can accept as sidequests and every commission requires you to deliver a crafted item to someone.
Initially you’re limited to accepting only one per day, but as your workshop grows so will your ability to accept more commissions (protip: one Social skill also helps), and by progressing in the game the commissions will become more complex and demanding, but also more rewarding in terms of money and workshop fame.
Don’t bite more than you can chew, though: every commission has a time limit and missing it means losing workshop prestige and opportunity to earn you money.
If you’re hard pressed for money another option is to sell what you’ve crafted to the right shops of the town. While commissions pay a lot more, this is one way to make some quick cash.
And since MtaS is a game where the main focus is crafting, it shouldn’t be surprising that there is a lot of item gathering. It might not be an exaggeration to say that you’ll love or hate this game based on how much you like hoarding items and in order to run a successful workshop you will have to spend a portion of every day mining ore, chopping wood, scavenging or beating monsters for their item drops.
You cannot do everything every day due to the limited time, since your character will be forced to sleep at 3AM, and, more importantly, due to your character’s limited stamina.
While time passes on at a reasonable pace, which can be slowed down or hastened at any point in the game through the Options menu, recovering your stamina on the fly is NOT easy.

💬 Social Activity:

Building items is not the only thing you’ll do in MtaS, you’ll also build relationships with the colorful citizens of the titular town of Sandrock.
Talking to people, gifting them what they like, helping them with commissions or their own sidequests are the usual ways to raise their disposition towards you. Spar is another returning option which lets you challenge most characters to a friendly match.
Once you become “Buddies” you can also invite them to dates, platonic or romantic depending on the character, which allows you to know more about them.
Romance and marriage have no gender restrictions and were made available in the last major update (“Knives Out” as of this writing), but marriage isn’t an option for every romanceable character yet. Be warned that the amount Character events available vary from “High” to “Very Low”.

💥 Unbuilder of monsters:

Fighting monsters is nothing new here, the previous game had a fair amount of combat to be done, but it was rather shallow having very little variety and even less depth.
MtaS tries to remedy it by introducing more weapon types: spears and daggers. Each weapon has different speed, strength and range and finding one that suits your preference is important when hunting for resources.
While you can fight monsters around town, there are Hazardous Ruins, combat heavy zones, but you’ll need to spend a pretty hefty amount of stamina and time to enter each floor and, naturally, some items cannot be found anywhere else.

⏬ Criticisms:

Being an Early Access game means you’ll inevitably run into glitches. The one I’ve seen the most often is NPCs having trouble with certain spots and getting stuck. But there are nastier glitches (as of this writing) like Abandoned Ruins not having any breakable terrain or FOV glitches, or the world map in the menu disappearing altogether.
The loading time for the game's startup is VERY long, especially as you progress more in the game and it can easily pass the 3 minutes mark, which is A LOT and indicates somewhat poor optimization.
The bigger changes to the game’s core mechanics, the machinery, come in the form of inconveniences like needing water to keep machines working, your machines getting clogged with sand and sandstorms that can cause problems like blowing away your completed resources from your machines, but it’s an “all take, no give” situation with zero upsides to you.
Most cooked foods which normally, in this type of game, should help recover stamina don't do it most of the time-- and when they do they restore a piddly amount, or have a only a short lived status buff (30 seconds). This gives you little to no incentive to invest in cooking – unless you’re aiming to use said cooked food as gifts – especially since most recipes require a lot of ingredients and time to make.
A lot of skills feel very underwhelming. For instance: Every skill meant to conserve Stamina or resources, or increase productivity have very low chances to activate being at 3~10% range (with one exception being at 20%).
It's understandable that they don't want you to have infinite stamina, or be swimming in resources in your first month, but most skills are hardly helpful AT ALL.
Characters, while having an impressive amount of reactions for many types of gifts, don’t have a lot of day-to-day random dialogue and might start repeating their lines soon and often.
Another issue, "inherited" from the previous game, is that the random dungeons still have little variety and you'll notice the same layouts repeating themselves.
While combat has more weapon variety it feels somewhat clunky and repetitive, still lacking depth despite its new mechanics. The camera also can close in suddenly if there’s a map object nearby, which can get you blindsided, something that happens fairly often in Spars.

💭 Final thoughts. Is it worth it?

So far, so good. The amount of content is very good for a game one year in Early Access, but this is still a diamond in the rough that still needs a lot of polishing.
Even though I feel that My Time at Sandrock sticks a bit too close to its original formula, I see the “more of the same, but done better” design choice in a positive light.
This game easily has the potential to surpass its predecessor, but we can only wait and hope for the best for now.
Hopefully this game won’t end as a half-baked game deemed complete like some Early Accesses.