Wednesday Reviews: Slime Rancher

Hey everyone, guest writer typoattack here. Since Jorf doesn’t have a post lined up for today (what a scrub), I’ll be taking control of today’s Wednes–

(hey, hey, typoattack, aren’t you the blogmaster?)

(Shhhhhh, I’m trying to keep that a secret since I haven’t been here in a while)

–ahem. I’ll be taking control of today’s Wednesday Review in order to give a review of the happiest game ever made:

Slime Rancher.

Seriously, look at it. (Click that link, watch that video over there, and then come back.)

The premise of the game is really simple. You, Beatrix LeBeau, are a slime rancher. Your job is to suck those blobular bundles of joy with big goofy smiles called slimes into your vacpack, shoot them into corrals made of one way walls that let things in but not out (except for you, of course), stuff them full of their favorite food, clean up their poop (called plorts), and then sell that poop for money, which you can use to buy gardens, more corrals, and amenities for your slimes. At first, you start with only pink slimes, which eat anything and everything but whose poops are almost worthless, but you can soon start capturing different types of slimes that poop out more valuable plorts.

The rare Polished Turd--I mean, Golden Plort, found by stuffing the face of a Golden Slime before it runs away from you screaming
The rare Polished Turd–I mean, Golden Plort, found by stuffing the face of a Golden Slime before it runs away from you screaming.

You can even combine slime types by feeding a slime a plort made by a different type of slime. The new slime, called a largo, grows to at least twice its original size–so big that you can no longer vac it up, only carry it in front of you. It takes on the diet of both of its parent types and also poops out plorts of both of its parent types. But beware–give a slime a third different type of plort and it transforms into a monstrous species called the Tarr, which kill other slimes and can hurt you.

Master all of these, and you’ll be rolling in the newbucks. Sounds easy, right?

This pink slime has no idea what's about to happen to it.
This pink slime has no idea of what’s about to happen to it.

Wrong.

As your ranch grows and you start acquiring different types of slimes, you’ll find out that each slime has two unique qualities, diet and behavior, which make them more difficult to care for. Rock slimes eat only veggies and can roll around, hurting you with their spikes in the process. Phosphor slimes can float, eat only fruit, and must be kept in a dark area or they’ll disappear. Tabby slimes have cat ears and a tail, eat only meat, attempt to escape their corral at every opportunity (even if you install high walls and an air net in your futile attempt to keep them in), eat other types of plorts with abandon, and steal stuff from around your ranch, which can lead to unintended largo or Tarr transformations. Tabby slimes (pink tabby largos to be exact) caused my ranch’s first Tarr infestation. Tabby slimes are the absolute worst. But at least getting bopped on the nose by one gives you a Steam achievement. (Conversely, puddle slimes are 100% low maintenance, as long as you keep them in a special pond and keep that pond filled with water. Puddle slimes are the best.)

You’ll also have to explore farther and farther away from your ranch to get to the more valuable slimes and their plorts. Spend too much time away from your ranch and you’ll return to starving slimes that try to escape in their search for food.

SlimeRancher-2016-02-02-08-59-11-61
They even start dribbling from the mouth when they’re famished. It’s heartbreaking. I haven’t seen one die of hunger yet, though.

Keeping them happy means a lot more time spent gathering resources than actually going out and seeing the rest of what the game has to offer. Vac up too many slimes and it’ll be really difficult to keep your ranch under control. (Unless you have puddle slimes, and few enough in each pond that the pond regenerates water faster than the puddle slimes use it up. Oh, and their plorts are worth a lot of newbucks.) And if you’re like me, once you’ve captured a slime you won’t want to let it go because a) it’s too adorable and b) Tarr infestations happen naturally in the wild quite often (which helps to keep the slime population down), so releasing a slime back into its natural habitat is basically condemning it to death. Fortunately, though, you don’t have to sleep. Or eat. Or poop. Your poop is probably worthless.

SlimeRancher-2016-02-02-08-52-26-84
Puddle slime is love, puddle slime is life. (Side note: I do have five or six pink tabby largos in an isolated area of my ranch far away from everything else where they can roam freely, eat plenty, and not cause any trouble.)

There are a few bugaboos with the game, gameplay-wise. The vacpack only has four slots, which means you can only carry four different things with you, whether they be plorts, slimes, or food. This can lead to some tough decisions especially when you are farther away from home. It’s probably by design, to force these decisions and add a level of difficulty to the game, but that doesn’t make it any less annoying, especially when you have over 50 mouths to feed. While the concept of vacuuming and shooting things is unique and fun, it can also be quite cumbersome. If you have a lot of plorts, say 50, in one slot of an upgraded vacpack, they take forever to deposit, one by one, in the plort market. Perhaps some kind of plort drop could be implemented as a market upgrade, rather than having to deposit them individually. Corrals also have a plort collector, which automatically vacuums up and holds plorts–it would be nice to give them an automatic plort depositor, too, even if it had some sort of restriction where any plort automatically deposited would only be worth its default value, which is generally less than market value. There’s no real goal–right now I have a full ranch that makes me tons of newbucks, but I have nothing to spend the newbucks on. The world isn’t fully developed, either–there are slimes, food, and entire regions that are not in the game yet. This last issue is understandable, since the game is in public early access. This does mean, however, that its replay value is quite low at the moment.

This game is the very definition of easy to learn and hard to master. Micromanaging the ranch is an exercise in a delicate balance. Expand too fast and you’ll be scrambling the whole time trying to keep everyone happy. Expand too slowly and you’ll be constantly pressed for cash, unable to buy upgrades and amenities for your pens. Keep all slimes in separate corrals and you’ll find that you’ve run out of space. Hold too many experiments or let your slimes run amok and you could see a Tarr infestation wipe out your ranch. But it’s all worth it when you take a step back and see a ranch full of happy slimes that are literally pooping out money and making the most adorable faces and noises ever.

My happy ranch.
My happy ranch.

Slime Rancher

Developer: Monomi Park

Cost: $20 on Steam

Rating (early access): 4.5/5

Buy the game here.

All images are screencaps that I took, but Slime Rancher belongs to Monomi Park. Please do not reuse. Thanks!

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