My Time at Sandrock will be familiar to many who love a good life/farm sim. It has all the hallmarks of titles like Fae Farm and Stardew Valley, but what is it that sets it apart from these and gives you a reason to play? Why spend hours here when you’ve done the same kind of thing in a bunch of other titles? I asked myself these questions in the early hours, wondering when was it going to give me a reason to keep playing – keep building and crafting, growing and building relationships.
There are a few factors that will draw me in and keep me playing these type of games, and My Time in Sandrock has all of them. While it’s overwhelming at first, the help on hand is everywhere you look, be it in your journal, through the in-game menus, chatting to the regulars, or taking on side missions. Another big reason I enjoyed it was the setting. Sandrock is gorgeous and full of life. NPCs going about their week just like you, different activities happening on certain days, and plenty of tasks to be done without any punishing time limit to rush you. Finally, the gradual progress through new materials and machines unlocking the more you play and spending time following objectives never grows old or laborious.
It did take its time to draw me in, but what I didn’t realise during this initial time of working out what was going on was how these characters started to become a big reason in why I enjoyed My Time at Sandrock. By the time I’d started to ride a horse or fight off the mutant lizards, I’d started to grow rather fond of the inhabitants of Sandrock. They’re all welcoming and friendly, but they’re also incredibly helpful. It isn’t obvious how it familiarizes you with the mechanics, but through seeking out help through the NPCs, you’re given plenty of advice and guidance. My biggest gripe in the early hours is what you’re supposed to do, but when you work out that by talking to others and interacting with the environment, a lot of your concerns are laid to rest.
One of the first things that struck me was how big the initial map of Sandrock is, but also how you can’t get around in a particularly speedy fashion. This was solved thanks to the local stables and how you can initially rent a horse that travels at remarkable speeds across the desert plains, and later build your own stables to own your own stallion. Another was how do I get certain items to craft with when there’s no obvious way to gather them? You can collect scrap from the local hauling company which can then be broken down to provide a whole range of useful materials, and by using the in-game menus you’ll find out exactly what you’ll receive, and how these parts can be used for what you need. There are also a ton of shops and stalls where resources can be purchased from if you struggle, and knowing where to buy them is detailed in your manuals and guidebooks which are readily available.
Earning money (or Gols as it’s referred to) was one of the toughest challenges at first because selling your resources doesn’t tend to bag you much. However, after improving your water supply and fuel for various machinery to operate (such as your furnaces, grinders, and recyclers), and knowing where to find important materials, you’ll soon start to craft more higher-priced equipment. You can also take on requests from residents for gols, as well as completing quests which often reward you handsomely. My Time at Sandrock has thought of everything, never leaving you with little to do as you go about your day. While it does do a lot of the same things as other sim titles, it is the way you’re rewarded for your efforts as long as your willing to spend the time learning and improving.
And that time you spend, as long as you’re willing to do so, doesn’t need to be rushed. My Time at Sandrock is a huge game with so much to do, be it upgrade your homestead, become a budding farmer, or fall in love and raise a family. Once you start to learn the systems there’s a lot for you to do and many different avenues to explore. It’s ambitious without tripping over itself, set inside a loving community that makes you feel welcomed from the moment you arrive at your run down excuse for a home. You make your own path, and the freedom to choose it comes from giving yourself time to explore, interact, and learn. It’s rewarding in many different ways and a huge step up from the previous My Time at Portia, and if your willing to sink hours into it, fewer titles within the genre will make you feel as warm and fuzzy as this.
So much to do
Fun to explore
Overwhelming at first
Some things could be explained better