Nardio Early Access Game Review
I wanted to love this game.
IS Slime Rancher WORTH YOUR TIME?
WHAT SHOULD I PLAY IT ON?
PC, Mac, Linux, X Box One
HOW IT PLAYS:
I have been following Slime Rancher for a very long time and have always been impressed by what I saw and what the reviews were saying. That said I was always nervous about jumping into the Early Access games. I didn’t want to pay to be someone’s beta tester and end up with a game that would never be finished. Lots of games never make it out of beta and there have been more than a few games that never made it out of Early Access.
That said Slime Rancher has received a lot of new content over the course of its Early Access life and dammit I was too curious to hold back. During the last Steam winter sale I finally took the dive and bought the game….then it collected digital dust in my massive Steam backlog. It never seemed the like the right time to dive in and play a game that might never be finished. It was never a priority.
A little while ago the developers of Slime Rancher announced that the game is leaving Early Access and will officially be releasing this August! In fact, Slime Rancher leaves Early Access today! I was excited and decided that now would be a great time to jump right into the game. And so I did…. 9 hours later it was almost five AM and I realized I was hopelessly hooked and in love. That feeling continued well past thirty hours into playing the game and unlocking all of the major content.
Slime Rancher has you going out into a strange new world to capture various slimes to then take back to your farm. You collect the poop they drop after eating and sell it. You can also use said slime poop as materials when building new equipment. Different slimes eat different things and behave differently. Some are easy to farm, while others are more challenging. You can and should mix slimes together to maximize your slime poop output.
Along the way, you will unlock new areas and encounter new slimes and repeat the farming process. That is basically it. Slime Rancher is simple yet amazing.
Slime Rancher’s Early Access experience sadly had very little in game story. While it could have greatly benefited from one, it was mostly about the experience of collecting all of the slimes and opening all of the areas for me. Sure, I wish there was more to be told, but the developers have stated it’s really not about the story. There will be a bit more added as the game gets it’s final release version, but it is again about the journey.
I have to say the journey was amazing.
I must have stopped to admire the scenery several dozen times. I must have gotten lost ten times more than that. There is no in game map. But I didn’t stop. I never raged quit from Slime Rancher. I never gave up or found something to be too cheap. In fact, Slime Rancher is pretty easy.
It’s a wonderful mash-up of Stardew Valley’s farming and good ole fashioned exploration. Discovering and learning how to feed and farm all of the slimes is a joy. Figuring out the best way to farm efficiently is kind of a pain, but is the main challenge of Slime Rancher. There are side goals of filling out delivery requests, but those were a problem for me.
The real draw is saving up to open new areas, exploring them and catching all the slimes. The art is magnificent. I cannot lavish enough praise on the artists who worked on the game. Slime Rancher’s world, creatures, and slimes are magnificent. From the cool looking chickens to the crystal slimes you meet at the end game, slime rancher is full of style and amazing art.
Besides that, there are random messages you get from a special someone that are interesting. Unfortunately, they come so infrequently that they just felt tacked on and random. There are also messages from some other people but they never amount to much or matter.
My biggest problem with the game is its sad lack of farming space. This made completing the daily random farm request almost impossible. There isn’t enough space to grow every slime for it’s drops and then be able to sell individual slimes. It’s frustrating and feels badly implemented. I really wish at the end of unlocking everything I had the ability to buy a new plot of land.
The second issue I have with Slime Rancher is how vague it is to upgrade your items. Often times when playing I’d seemingly, randomly unlock new upgrades. Since they were seemingly random and didn’t feel earned it just felt sorta weird.
A lot of the upgrades are tied into a money sink that is described to the player and purely optional. It wasn’t until I finished opening up everything and collecting every slime that I looked into the Slime Rancher Wiki page and discovered how convoluted, badly thought out and implemented the upgrade system is. Half of it depends on the player building things, the other is throwing money into a vanity money sink that unlocks vaguely described things that allow you to customize your farm in ways that aren’t made clear to the player.
Unfortunately, you can only really unlock most of the upgrades by spending massive amounts of money that you can only really start to earn well after you unlocked everything. By then the upgrades are sorta moot. There is no real reason to keep playing and trying to keep the farm up. Since completing farm orders is such a hassle and there doesn’t seem to be any interesting awards or story from it, it feels like a missed opportunity. I would have much rather had an in-game store that allowed me to buy everything outright. The money sink system just doesn’t work. This would have also given me goals to work towards.
All that said, the upgrades that I did unlock in the game did feel sufficient. The only really grating upgrade that irked me was something that allowed me the ability to unlock random treasure chests around the world. The chests are everywhere and there is no explanation whatsoever on how to unlock them. I found out, again, in the Wiki that I would need to build insane amounts of items in the game to then unlock the ability to unlock the chests. Again, this seems to be another end game time sink.
Now, it sounds like I am complaining a lot, but really I had an amazing time playing Slime Rancher. Best of all they developers are great about community feedback and are open to changes and tweaks. I am just not a fan of games that need community wikis to explain things that should have been explained in game.
So yeah, not much of an endgame unless you find farming endlessly to save up and unlock all the vanity stuff amusing. Personally I don’t. That said, I recommend it for the journey. The 30+ hours I invested into getting to the end. Those hours were really interesting and fun.
I cannot overstate how awesome it was to spend time figuring out how to climb walls to skip areas. Sure the game has linear paths, but once you get used to climbing over walls, you discover that part of the fun of Slime Rancher, is leaving the paths behind and exploring. I found I was able to skip an entire section of the game just through wall climbing and jumping. I cannot describe how awesome that felt. Traversing super high over the landscape and seeing all of the paths below. It was a magnificent feeling.
The only real danger in Slime Rancher is missing a jump and falling into the ocean or some other death pits. Thankfully, those aren’t that big of a deal. You wake up after a day back at your ranch and you lost all the items you had collected that you have on you. There is a chance that your farm could be suffering from escaped slimes, but in my experience, it’s not much of an issue if you leave your slimes properly stocked with food when you go to explore. I do wish there were more enemies and obstacles in the game. Hopefully later on new and more dangerous areas get added into the game. Hopefully with some platforming puzzles and story.
All that said, Slime Rancher is amazing as is. Difficulty wise, it is perfect for a relaxing game to just unwind with after work. The only real problem with the exploration is also its greatest strength. Slime Rancher has no map whatsoever. It’s maddening at first and makes me worry about taking a long break from the game. Some areas are kinda maze like. Sure, you get the hang of em over time, but it can be frustrating. That said, there is something to be said for exploring. Finding new ways home. Finding new ways to get to places. Finding little cool parts of the world here and there and taking em in. That wonderful feeling of making it back home or finding a teleporter to take you home when you thought you were totally lost. That feeling of finally memorizing a difficult area. This is where and how Slime Rancher shines brightest. This is where Slime Rancher pulled me in and had me totally addicted. I needed to see more. I needed to explore more. I needed to unlock it all. I needed to collect them all. Slime Ranch is an OCD person’s crack. I loved it.
Slime Rancher is a simple game that is enthralling and entertaining. I’ve gotten over 33 hours of pure fun from it and I loved it. It is totally worth its full asking price. Honestly, it’s worth a lot more. This is a true gem. I honestly recommend it and plan on replaying the final release version later on this week. I can’t wait to give you a final review of the completed game.
What really has me excited though is the developer of Slime Rancher has already laid out post release ideas of possible content. I can’t wait.
To the developer Monomi Park, I wish you great success with Slime Rancher. You made a magnificent experience.
Support this talented team of indies.
IS IT WORTH IT?
- Around 30 hours of gameplay.
- Lots of casual replay for relaxing fun.
- PC, Mac, Linux, X Box One