In 2018, an RPG where you play as a builder fixing up your Pa’s old shop in a place called Portia was released. Now, 5 years later, you can begin a new journey in a neighboring old western desert town with My Time at Sandrock.
There are a few improvements in this sequel to My Time at Portia, but also some snags. It has the same feel you’d want as a fan of the previous title but offers plenty of its own experience without feeling too far removed. We’ll touch on story, building, characters, and more aspects of My Time at Sandrock in this review.
My Time at Sandrock Story
As you begin My Time at Sandrock, you take a train into the desert town of Sandrock as a new builder in the area. You’re there to help the town with various projects it needs to keep Sandrock going and end up saving it from disaster during several emergencies. Unlike similar games, you’re really there to do your own thing and build your own life instead of revitalizing someone’s old dream, even though your workshop is a hand-me-down from the previous builder.
There are a few enemies you run into in Sandrock, the most famous being the bandit and former resident Logan. The first you actually confront is the Geeglers. They are lizard people from a neighboring town that wreak havoc on Sandrock’s farm, water supply, and more.
The combat with the Geegler storyline adds a little different flavor to what you usually see in these cozy games and can be enjoyable depending on the weapon you have and your play style. The game does give you warnings about what level you should be before you encounter these combat situations and I advise making sure you have a weapon you’ve tested and enjoy before entering. You’ll also want to bring plenty of food or other HP resources.
My Time at Portia fans will enjoy that Portia gets mentioned as a neighboring town a few times. I know it made me happy to see the town name when Sandrock runs into a supply issue and the Mayor’s stand-in says Portia isn’t able to bring in any aid until the problem is fixed.
Throughout, there’s a good combination of cozy and relaxed play with building, farming, and other activities, as well as some action and combat with the enemy storylines.
Characters in Sandrock
When it comes to building your own character, the customization options are plentiful. The one that was most shocking to me was the ability to choose a hairstyle and separately select your bangs for the hairstyle you picked. You could also add an updo to a shorter style to give you texturized long hair. Along with this more unique feature are the obvious ones like an array of color options for skin tones, hair color, eyes, and more. Making a character truly your own shouldn’t be a problem with all these options.
Once my character was created and I entered the town, the first thing I noticed while talking with everyone in Sandrock was that all the characters had very distinct personalities. This is well displayed throughout personal interactions as well as cut scenes. My favorite characters are the spitfire farmer’s daughter, Elsie who likes to boisterously play pranks and make sure everyone stops to have some fun and the caring dad figure of a sheriff, Justice who accompanies you on a few journeys and keeps you safe from danger.
To grow your relationships you can give gifts, complete tasks as they arise, and talk daily as is usual in this style of game. However, some characters have some other ways to grow relationship points as well. For example, Owen, the Blue Moon Saloon owner, has a discuss recipes option in which you pay gols in exchange for a new recipe you can cook. There are also a few characters you can play a card game with called Critters. It’s similar to rock, paper, scissors, but with four options and animals instead of objects. Elephant beats fox and cat, fox beats cat, cat beats mouse, and mouse beats elephant. If you lose you get 1 relationship point, if you win you get 5.
When it comes to romantic encounters, the game will indicate a chance at a romantic response by placing a heart next to your selections. This helps to avoid accidental flirting with characters you’re uninterested in romancing.
What was even more exciting to me was that although you can’t pet all of them, you can build a friendship with the animals in the town. There are several cats, horses, camels, and birds that you can chat with and bring presents to grow from acquaintances to friends.
Since you come to town as a builder and this is how you make your money, building is the main feature of the game. An unfortunate part of building is how much grinding it takes to make anything beyond the early game. There are many stations and they have upgrades that you have to resource gather to apply which can take a lot of time. Most of the stations have a wait time that takes most of the day to get a resource of any substantial number. This gives the game almost the same feel as an idle game at times, especially when side missions are sparse.
While it makes sense that there would be horses in a Western-style town, it was disappointing how it still takes a very long time to get anywhere. It also could take quite a while to get what you need for a stable to get your own horse and renting is a lot of gols. While fast traveling is an option through the Yakmel Stations, it also costs 15 gols each time you use one, which isn’t necessarily a lot but they’re also not very conveniently placed and gols can be hard to earn.
My Actual Time at Sandrock
For me, the story did keep me driving through. I wanted to see what the next thing was to happen. But I can’t say I was never weary of how much time it took to get all the components together to get to the next piece of the story.
While I don’t mind a little bit of resource gathering and do understand this is a game about a builder, at the very least, the time each of the stations took could have been reduced a little or at least progressed more overnight as your character sleeps.
There is multiplayer that may ease some of these concerns if you’re playing on PC, but I was reviewing on the Nintendo Switch which doesn’t have multiplayer yet. If you don’t mind a bit of idle time and trying to find something to do in between missions that may or may not mean days more of waiting for the right resources for your side task, the old-western bandits and those darn Geeglers really did keep my time at Sandrock interesting.
This game was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the game's publisher,public relations company, developer or other for the express purpose of a review.
- This article was updated on November 6th, 2023