Released on April 16th, the Switch version of My Time at Portia was originally met with heavy criticism for its poorly optimized, well, everything. Compared to the PC version, there were widespread reports of texture pop-in, cut features, missing quests and items, input lag, frame rate skips and stuttering, and overall game slowdown. The game looks lovely and I wanted to try it so I was saddened to hear of these issues. After two patches have been released for the Switch port, one in May and one in June, let’s check out how things are going at Portia on the Switch.
My Time at Portia is a serene and wholesome game blending elements from many gamer-favorite farming sims into a neat bundle. The focus of My Time at Portia is on community and crafting rather than farming or raising livestock, though you can do both of these things to some extent. The player moves into town to take over their father’s old workshop and progression is centered around learning and building new blueprints, repairing major structures in and around the community, such as bridges and landmarks.
I did not play My Time at Portia on its initial release due to the negative reviews (4.6/10 user review average on Metacritic), so I don’t have a personal baseline to compare it to, but the game seems to run slightly better now compared to the reports of its past performance. While I was not seeing texture pop-in and much of the missing quests, features, and items have been added, the game is still incredibly slow and feels plainly unfinished.
For instance when you walk into the water from the beach, the screen goes black for a moment and you appear back on the shore. I literally said “What?!” aloud when I encountered this. Other games would simply have an invisible barrier not allowing you to go into the water, or an animation that would turn your character around when trying to do so. Oversights like this are incredibly jarring and sadly too common.
When moving across the map into a new area, the frame rate doesn’t simply lag or skip, it straight up stops and starts repeatedly. I genuinely thought my Switch had frozen several times as I explored the game environment. My Time at Portia is plagued by slowdown at nearly every turn, especially in areas where there are lots of plants and trees loading in.
Opening and closing menus for inventory, storage chests, crafting stations, etc. all take several moments, which may not seem like a huge problem until you realize that inventory management is a constant, ongoing need, so you will be opening and closing your various menus frequently. The loading time when leaving the player’s house is so long that I found myself planning my in-game day around avoiding going into the house whenever possible. Any storage boxes that were inside the house I moved outside so I wouldn’t need to go in during the day. A not quite as long, but still annoying load time occurs when entering and exiting most buildings in the game.
Another major problem is one that I have noticed in several Switch ports recently: user interface text size. PC game UI text size is chosen knowing that players will be sitting within 2-3 feet of their monitor. Console gamers are typically sitting farther away from their screen on a couch or bed, so when a game is ported to console but the text size is left the same, it can be very, very hard to read.
My Time at Portia has small text to the point of making playing in handheld mode nearly impossible. I had to get up from my normal Switch gaming spot to go sit close to my monitor just to read the quest objectives on the side of my screen, and this was just one example. At that point, when considering all of the other glaring flaws with the port, I wondered why anyone would play this title on console rather than PC.
If My Time at Portia is in this state currently, I am afraid to imagine what it was like before the two patches which were meant to have improved optimization, among other things. It is an unfinished, incomplete, aggravating experience. I can only imagine how disappointed the Kickstarter backers are who chose the Switch version as their reward. If you’re looking for something to scratch your Stardew Valley itch on the Switch, My Time at Portia is not going to do the trick, for now at least.
Thanks for reading!
Game key provided by Team 17.
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