From the very first moment I stepped off the boat into the land of Portia, I immediately felt like this was the start of a great big adventure. Maybe it was the chipper attitude of my character, the sea breeze on my avatar’s eager face, or the idea of setting foot on the shore of infinite possibilities, but starting a new game really did feel like I was embarking on a new chapter of my life where anything is possible.
My Time at Portia, at its core, is a charming mobile simulation game where you can craft, gather, mine, harvest, explore, or battle to your heart’s content. The point of the game is, well, there’s really no single point to it, because how you shape your experience of the game is entirely up to you. The prospect of such boundless possibilities may seem overwhelming for some, but it’s a breath of fresh air, to be honest, to be given free rein.
But thankfully, you’ve got a handy Handbook to show you the ropes, because you’ll need to craft everything from the repairs on your dingy floor to the actual tools you’ll need to make repairs in the first place.
Of course, you can spend forever just accepting missions from the Commerce Guild, collecting resources or currencies to level up your character and build new equipment. Or you can roam around and just make friends with all of the very, very unique NPCs in town. You can even play a friendly game of rock-paper-scissors, or spar with them for no reason at all, because why the heck not?
Fitting such an expansive experience in the palm of your hand is no easy feat. Everything is so painstakingly detailed, and I didn't once felt my device heating up as I was playing.
The graphics feel pretty optimized for mobile, as well as the buttons and controls. You’ll typically have your directional pad on the left and your action buttons on the right, and there are no unnecessary HUD elements cluttering your already cramped screen. Real estate is pretty limited on a touchscreen, and I do think the icons and buttons are positioned appropriately enough to provide players with an unobstructed view of the game.My Time at Portia’s mobile port
Now, I won’t get into the nitty-gritty of the crafting process, the battles, or the missions, but suffice it to say that I’ve been playing this game for a full week now and I still haven’t scratched the surface. There’s just so much to do and so much to see - the customization options alone are insane, because you’ll have to plan everything down to the time of day and season to really spend your life inside Portia.
Shops open during appointed times, and romancing NPCs isn’t as simple as spamming gifts. Impressing people on dates takes hard work (much like in real life), and even small things like changing up your look can prompt townsfolk to comment on your new appearance. I’m just amazed at how much detail and TLC was put into every element of the game, and I haven’t even made it halfway through the actual story.
The thing is, this kind of expansive gameplay won’t exactly be everyone’s cup of tea, especially when it comes to mobile. The autosave functions are lifesavers, yes, but not every mobile gamer can invest this much time and effort into a mobile title and basically build their life there.
Grab-and-go gamers, in particular, won’t appreciate the lack of automation here, as you’ll really need to focus with each play session (there’s an auto-tracking function, by the way, but it needs a little more work, as I’ve had a few moments where my character would just run right up against a wall and keep running because it thought it was still heading to the pinned location on my map).
Whether or not you choose to invest hundreds of hours of your life into it is up in the air, but if you do, you might just find that getting to ride flying robotic piggies and marrying an NPC can make it all worth it.