If you know me, you know I love a good simulator game. My Time at Sandrock seemed like the perfect opportunity for me after finishing a wealth of indie simulators this week like Cat Café Manager and APICO. Unfortunately, though like a fine game for some, My Time at Sandrock just could not hold my attention, and it was more of a chore than anything to come back to.
I can appreciate that a lot of this is due to personal preferences, but I pride myself on being able to see what other people may get out of a game, even if it isn’t my style. But My Time at Sandrock is absolutely a game that falls within my niche, and I just could not get excited about it. This is a huge problem.
Here we are in Sandrock, much like My Time at Portia, 300 years post apocalypse. You take on the role of Town Builder, build up your Workshop—which I creatively named “Workshop”—build a farm, fight baddies, complete commissions and make friends. On paper, it all sounds great. It’s the execution I wasn’t thrilled with.
Granted, PC gaming is not my favourite, unless it’s an MMO, so here, I opted to bring my MSI Stealth gaming laptop over to the couch, so I could get comfy and use my controller. However, the controller support for the game is not well done. Instead of being able to cycle through menu items, in many menus you have a cursor you need to move over a slider, item or button to select it.
This is tedious at best, with the joysticks on the controller regularly missing the mark. If a game is going to offer controller support, it shouldn’t make things more complicated. I found a mouse and keyboard much more enjoyable for My Time at Sandrock, so back to the desk I went. The game was only available to cover on PC, so I am a little concerned about controls for consoles, as the cursor is much more responsive on the PC than with an Xbox Series X controller.
“My Time at Sandrock is absolutely a game that falls within my niche, and I just could not get excited about it. This is a huge problem.”
Controls aside, Sandrock is actually a charming little dilapidated town. I really enjoyed the characters and dialogue, even letting out a little laugh once in a while when Yan would ramble on and panic. I enjoy that the scrolling text could be sped up, and that during dialogue important pieces of information like locations, names or tasks would be highlighted to remind you to pay attention. This is especially useful, because the game throws a lot of locations and tasks at you, and they can be tricky to keep track of.
There is a wealth of devices and items in the game, all with their own particular uses. The assembly station became my best friend, and my worst enemy all at the same time. I find building the devices very tedious, having to literally place the pieces on the assembly station, searching for the right angle or corner to target. I would much rather a simple crafting station, which is already in the game, but only used for smaller items.
The assembly station is one of the crafting solutions that makes My Time at Sandrock unique, so I found ways to embrace it. Finding the items in game can be challenging, but if you throw a blueprint on the assembly station, it gives you hints as to where to find each material. This came in handy after mindlessly farming materials and searching shops when I couldn’t figure out where to look.
“With fun characters and lots to do, something got lost behind convoluted crafting and poor controller support.”
There are plenty of quests available in game between the main story and side quests, and plenty of space to explore. Combat in the game isn’t particularly challenging, but the animation behind it was exciting and made it feel like I was really doing something. In other sims, I usually find combat boring and uninspired, so I was happy to see my hacking and slashing amounting to something fun.
With all that being said, I still could not enjoy My Time in Sandrock (ha, get it?). All the pieces to a great game are here, but they just don’t seem to fit together the way they should. With fun characters and lots to do, something got lost behind convoluted crafting and poor controller support. My Time at Sandrock doesn’t feel like a game just anyone can dive into, and I believe some experience in My Time at Portia could greatly improve the overall experience, which is a shame for people who haven’t picked up the past title.