Level Up: Review of the Slime Rancher

By Samual Cale on March 29, 2018 from Level Up via Connect-Bridgeport.com

I am not typically drawn to games about peaceful farm life, but when Slime Rancher was made free with Xbox Live Gold, I decided to give it a chance. Slime Rancher was developed by Monomi Park, and was fully released for Xbox One, Windows, Mac, and Linux in August of 2017. This humble game is surprisingly addictive, and I was only able to put it down once I had explored everything.
 
The story aspect of Slime Rancher is minimal, but delivers a good message. You play as a young woman named Beatrix LeBeau, who has moved from Earth to a distant planet known as “The Far Far Range.” There, she pursues the profession of farming slimes, an indigenous species of gelatinous lifeform that produce byproducts with various scientific and industrial applications. The story is more in the background than the gameplay, and is told by notes left by the last rancher who lived in the area, Hobson Twillgers, and by emails received from a person named Casey back on Earth. The notes left by Hobson often contain hints about The Far Far Range, but further in the game they explore human ideas such as loneliness, love, and the concept of “when one door opens, another closes.” The messages from Casey hint that Casey and Beatrix were close in some way, but quite different, as where Beatrix longed for adventure, Casey would rather stay at home in comfort. Together, these messages encourage the player to pursue their dreams and have an adventure, but to always appreciate love and the comfort of home.
 
The gameplay of Slime Rancher revolves around exploration, resource management, and economics. As you explore, you will encounter various kinds of slimes, which you can store by sucking them into your vacpack. On the ranch, you can build slime pens, chicken pens, crop plots, storage bins, water pools, and incinerators. When a slime eats a food, it produces an object called a “plort.” The plorts of each slime have unique properties that make it valuable back on Earth. For example, the plorts of pink slimes, which eat anything edible, can be used in general manufacturing and construction, while the plorts of honey slimes are used to make extremely sweet food. You can sell the plorts you have collected on the plort market, which follows the general rules of supply and demand. If you sell a large quantity of the same kind of plort, it will lose value on the market, and if you don’t sell any for a long period of time, its value will slowly increase. A risky but profitable way to maximize plort output is to create largo slimes. A largo is created when a slime eats the plort of a different kind of slime, and is twice as big as a normal slime, with the physical characteristics of both parent slimes. When a largo eats, it produces the plorts of both parent slimes, effectively doubling output. However, largos are more difficult to control due to their greater size, and if they eat the plort of a third kind of slime, they will become a dangerous slime called a Tarr. Tarrs are made of a black, oily substance, and will eat other slimes, chickens, and ranchers, and will cause crops to rot around them. When a Tarr eats, it will produce another Tarr, which can easily lead to a chain reaction if the player doesn’t intervene. A Tarr is destroyed if doused with water or thrown into the ocean. Another special kind of slime are gordo slimes, which are so massive they have become immobile. However, they often hide a treasure, so the player must feed it a huge quantity of food so it pops, revealing its treasure and scattering normal versions of the slimes it consists of everywhere.
 
I must say, it is easy to become a victim of your own success in Slime Rancher. Once you begin to farm many different kinds of slimes and begin growing large quantities of the food to feed them, it becomes difficult to stop tending them and go back to adventuring. When last I played, by the time I had finished harvesting and feeding slimes on one end of the ranch, the other end was ready to be harvested again. The issue isn’t that your farm can become extremely efficient, it’s the fact there is very little the player can do to automate the process. Crops must always be harvested by hand and placed in the slime pens, and plorts must always be removed from the storage of the pen by hand. The whole system is very manual and hands-on, which gets very tedious at times. Another issue I have with Slime Rancher is its complete lack of multiplayer. This is more or less a sandbox game, and it would be quite interesting to play with a friend in the world of jiggly livestock.
           
The graphics of Slime Rancher hold an enormous amount of charm. They are cartoon-like, and filled with bright, eye-catching colors. Each environment is beautiful in its own way, be it a jungle or a desert. The smiling faces of the slimes will make a player say, “Awww,” on several occasions. The music is extremely relaxing, except for when a Tarr is nearby, at which point it becomes menacing to alert the player of danger.
 
With these elements in mind, I give Slime Rancher a seven out of ten. The graphics are charming, and the game carries a good message. It’s addictive and difficult to become bored with, and fairly straightforward to play. I expected it to be childish or boring, but Slime Rancher is filled with adventure and provides an important theme that you should follow your dreams, but always make room for happiness in life.



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