It's unclear exactly what I've left behind, or why I decided to move my entire life over to Portia besides the fact that my father has left me a wee bit of property. A workshop, apparently. Have I worked a day in my life? Do I know how to work the machines of a workshop? Who knows?! I'm just so darn excited to leap off the boat and into my new life into the strangely happy post-apocalyptic landscape of Portia. And, I would later realize, it makes me strangely happy—aside from the aggressive grinding, of course.
But enough of that! I'm off the boat, without allowing a second for the poor captain to dock and completely ignoring any maritime safety laws that may be in place. Within seconds, I meet Presley, who takes me to Pop's beloved property, and it's... well, it hasn't been loved in a while. There are holes in the woodwork, and even though there's a bed that somehow isn't moth-eaten, I'm not able to get a good night's sleep that night; it's freezing cold, and I don't have the materials to repair it.
Once I wake up from my fitful sleep (which, as far as I can tell, had no effect on my health or stamina), I head to the Commerce Guild to get my workshop certified, prior to which I must complete a small test: build some tools. No big! I whip them up in no time, at which point I'm given a certificate and told to name my workshop. After giving it a 100% entirely appropriate name, I skip back home to mount my certificate on the wall and begin working on my first commission—which, I'm told, is how builders earn their keep around here.
Except my workshop isn't exactly a workshop, and can't really do much. I have a worktable and an assembly station, but that's about it. Scanning through Dad's old book of blueprints next to the assembly station, I see that there's a whole league of machines I need to have a fully functioning workshop, none of which he deemed fit to leave me. Thanks, Dad.
But this is my new life! I'm reinvigorated and full of energy, so I'm ready to start from scratch anyway. I remember hearing from somebody in town that there are ruins available for exploration, in which I can find all sorts of materials and metals that I'll need for my machines. Someone says I might even find some ancient mechanical relics from an era long past, and I feel my heart soar. Ruins? Exploration? Relics? I knew there was more to happy-go-lucky Portia than met the eye!
So I go to the ruins, and am immediately slammed with an 80 gols (yes, it is spelled that way) fee for weekly entry. This may come as a surprise, but I don't have 80 gols yet. I don't even have 10 gols. Not to be deterred, I go hack down random trees and rocks until I get enough materials to sell, which just scrapes above the 80 gols mark. The whole process takes a few minutes, but soon enough I'm back at the entrance, forking over my hard earned money and stepping inside in anticipation. What will I find inside, I wonder? What sorts of ruins might I explore and excavate? What fascinating relics might I find?
It's a cave.
It quickly becomes apparent that there is not a single structure in sight aside from the entrance, and that I have stepped not into ruins but into a very dark, very open, very uneventful cave. Sure, my fee gets me a rented jetpack and a pair of goggles to help me find treasure, but I honestly thought it would be a bit more exciting. Even when I mark the spots in which relics are buried and dig down to them, it's very unsatisfying; they enter your inventory just like any other run of the mill item, and range anywhere from ever-exciting Old Parts to super cool Power Stones (which, despite what you may think, are just power sources for the machines I haven't built yet). I mine and mine and mine, getting copper and tin to my heart's content, until boom—my stamina runs out, and for the life of me I can't swing my pickaxe again. So off I go, ready to sleep the night and regain all my lost energy.
Over the course of the next week, I spend all my time in the mine, getting the most out of my 80 gols. It takes forever, but I manage to get a couple of the machines I need up and running so I can get to work on commissions. I'm eager to get to work on my first task, so I shove some copper in to smelt and wait. And wait. And wait.
Eventually I go to bed, because I'm tired of standing around or doing odd jobs while I wait for my copper future to open wide. It's worth noting that it's around 2:00 in the afternoon when my head hits the pillow.
When I wake up, it's 7:00 in the morning, regardless of when I went to bed, and I go out to see that my copper has finished smelting. Excellent! I shove it into the grinder, ready for some shiny new copper blades to pop out so I can put together my next machine, and wait. And wait. And wait.
Perhaps you can see the problem.
Progress is slow on pretty much everything—on various and sundry commissions, on profit, on main quests—all because I have to wait an ungodly amount of time for my raw materials to actually become usable. Farming the trees, rocks, and adorable llamas (and unfortunately for the latter, I don't mean agricultural farming) next to my house helps with the resource shortage, but only a little. Sometimes I'll come back to see that my fuel ran out midway through smelting, because the maximum amount of fuel I can put in didn't allot enough time for the task to actually complete. Other times, I'll come back to see that I still have ten hours left to wait, and figure that I might as well head to bead at four in the afternoon for all the progress I'm making. It's slow going.
The assembly of my large machines is fairly intuitive to pick up, and I thank my Dad's blueprints for that. His handy book tells me exactly what I need, and what raw materials I need to make each part. I just select a blueprint, and boom an outline appears on the assembly station, ready for me to slap the parts in. But for some reason, as soon as I activate the blueprint, I can't read the recipe in the book anymore. The outline only tells me the parts I need, not what I need to make the parts. Oftentimes I'm stuck deactivating and reactivating the blueprint (which returns the already-used parts to my inventory, so I have to put them all back again) just so I can remember what goes into the blasted thing. Yet another time sink.
There's fighting too, of course. After a while, I prove myself enough to venture into the Collapsed Wastelands and visit higher level ruins, but they're more "collapsed" than "wastelands." Brightly colored enemies bound happily around the lush landscape, among the ruined structures and machines. It's harrowing, since most of them are above my level, but I need the materials in those ruins, and darn if I'm not slogging out to get it no matter how long it takes. And it takes long.
The work is arduous, but the setting almost makes it worth it. It's an idyllic countryside full of (mostly) friendly people, who despite their rampant character inconsistencies are largely helpful and considerate. It's obvious that there's more that meets the eye, what with the towering ruins of glass and metal buildings above the little town of Portia. The music is cheerful, if repetitive. The ruins are useful, if plain. The colors of the landscape, especially the river and waterfall behind my workshop, are gorgeous, if a bit too happy. All in all, it's not a half bad property for Dad to have left me, but I can't help but feel a bit bitter for him throwing me in the deep end.
All things considered, it's relaxing. Even though I spend way more time than I would like waiting for materials to finish, grinding for materials until the sun goes down, I never feel in danger, nor do I ever feel anxious to accomplish a goal. I just wish there was a bit less sleeping and time-passing in my life, and a bit more doing.
* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company.
I've been involved with games since I was a little kid, when I would watch my father play World of Warcraft for hours - and later, of course, mooch off of his account. I have a cobblestone background of creative writing, newspaper journalism, and multi-platform gaming, and I intend to add more stones to that mix as I get them. Excluding sports, I'm a fairly versatile player and will play whatever I can find, though I have a soft spot for lore-intensive games and fantasy. I'm currently collaborating on writing college course materials about the interplay between history and video games.View Profile