I made a total fool of myself in crafting life sim My Time at Portia

My Time at Portia is an open world crafting RPG about running a workshop in a charming little town—a town that exists in a pastoral idyll because technology has caused the downfall of civilization. Also, there are talking rats and bright pink cats. It's a very cozy post-apocalypse. 

My own time in Portia, though enjoyable and initially well-intentioned, was mostly a condemnation of my ability to be a productive member of society, even after society has collapsed and been rebuilt. 

Week 1 (Spring 1-7) 

My arrival in the city of Portia was inauspicious. After hopping off the boat, a man named Presley walked me to the workshop that I’m apparently taking over for my father. Waiting for me was a letter from dear Dad with a few vague excuses for his absence. I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and took stock of the place anyway. It was empty but for a bed and a bunch of holes in the floor. Thanks, Dad.

Presley, the local Commerce Guild Commissioner, gave me the task of earning my Builder’s License by accomplishing a couple basic crafting orders. Just my luck, Dad left me a workshop that was not only falling apart, but dead last on the competitive ladder. At the top of the food chain is a jerk named Higgins who literally snatched my first potential commission out of my hands. 

Watching Higgins sprint to the Commerce Guild at eight every morning and then waste his life pacing outside until it opens makes my wounded spirit feel slightly better.

Week 2 (Spring 8-14)

A fat, pink cat appropriately named Pinky walks by my house every morning, rain or shine. I desperately want to be friends with Pinky. I give her a worm and she hisses at me. It isn’t the thought that counts when it comes to cats.

The rocky start to my relationship with Pinky gave me an idea. Maybe I would do better giving gifts to Higgins. Instead of competing with him to run the best workshop in Portia, I could date him, take over part ownership of his workshop, and sabotage it from within! 

But after a few wasted mornings making sure to greet Higgins outside the guild, it became pretty clear that he wasn’t interested in having any kind of human interaction with me, dating or otherwise. Jerk.

Week 3 (Spring 15-21)

Mayor Gale announced his plan to bring a bus system to Portia. He rounded up the money to commission five buses. Naturally, I saw Higgins there at eight the next morning when we both went to snag a contract. "I’ll show him!" I thought. "I’ll finish four of the five buses myself!" I would be the Bus Queen! To my dismay, the parts list was full of things I hadn’t learned to craft yet. Hubris is the killer of workshops.

This week was also the Day of Bright Sun, one of the seasonal holidays sims like this are obliged to have. Caught up in my bus problem, I neglected to donate a gift or even to pay attention to the holiday’s purpose. 

I showed up in the town square on Friday morning to find the entire town in a mob. An airship dropped donated presents onto the ground while we ran around like spooked cattle beneath it, scrabbling for gifts. I didn’t manage to snag a single one.

Week 4 (Spring 22-28)

I followed Pinky around town today, determined to find out what she does like, when we passed by Best Brother, the furniture store run by a buff dude named Paulie. Having struck out on my revenge romance plan with Higgins, I decided to woo Paulie, the strongest man in Portia. A relationship with the local furniture dealer could only improve the state of my still-empty house. 

Week 5 (Summer 1-7)

By Summer, I’d managed to fall into a routine of mining ore in the abandoned ruins, cutting down trees, and fulfilling commissions. In case I’d forgotten my place in the food chain, a letter arrived reminding me that Higgins remained #1 in the workshop rankings while I was still #5. 

I ran back to the commission board and noticed that the other contracts for Dee Dee buses had been snatched. It was at this point I wondered if my ineptitude was holding up the city’s entire bus project. I carried on out of pure vindictiveness, determined to take my sweet time. 

Week 6 (Summer 8-14)

I spent an entire week trying to figure out what kind of gifts Paulie likes. On the list of failures: milk, bread, roasted meat, pumpkin pie, and dried apple snacks. Paulie’s stomach was apparently not the direct line to his heart. 

As a last ditch effort, I made the man a scarf. Still no. The only thing he showed mild interest in was raw hardwood. I’ll chalk that up to him being a carpenter, I guess. 

Week 7 (Summer 15-21) 

At Mayor Gale’s request, I dove into an abandoned cave this week. He has some hare-brained idea to turn the place into a tourist attraction. Funnily enough, it was infested with rats who had stolen random items from all my fellow Portians. The loot was guarded by a fork-wielding rat king, because of course it was. My fellow citizens’ lukewarm gratitude didn’t inspire me to try much harder on that Dee Dee bus though.

In a desperate moment during my pursuit of Paulie, I decided to gift him a small wooden chair I had crafted. Guess what the strongest man in Portia loves? Plain small chairs. Take a goddamn vacation, Paulie! Stop thinking about furniture! I crafted about seven more small chairs, despite how disgusted I was by Paulie’s single-mindedness.

Week 8 (Summer 22-28) 

In the last week of Summer, I continued to wallow in mediocrity. Although I’ve made a point to fulfill several contracts specifically for the renown it will earn me around Portia, I can already see my name remaining in the fifth and last spot on the workshop rankings list. Pinky is still largely indifferent to me. I keep spending money on clothes. I’ve gotten decent at finding relics in the old ruins, though I’m still running about with a wooden sword. 

It is on this day, the twenty-eighth of Summer, that I noticed Paulie’s relationship meter is composed of stars, not the hearts that indicate potential love. In my own heart, I know that can only mean one thing: I’ve made a huge mistake. Perhaps I’ll manage to turn over a new leaf in Autumn.

You can play a version of My Time at Portia’s alpha for free on Steam.

Lauren Morton
Associate Editor

Lauren started writing for PC Gamer as a freelancer in 2017 while chasing the Dark Souls fashion police and accepted her role as Associate Editor in 2021, now serving as the self-appointed chief cozy games enjoyer. She originally started her career in game development and is still fascinated by how games tick in the modding and speedrunning scenes. She likes long books, longer RPGs, has strong feelings about farmlife sims, and can't stop playing co-op crafting games.