Still little known in the media but already highly appreciated during its long early access phase on PC and Xbox One, which began last August on consoles and even in January 2016 on PC, Slime Rancher reaches its final form and stands out. in these days also for its introduction in the Games with Gold of August 2017 on Xbox One, surprisingly revealing itself as a real hit in this free titles flow. At first glance, perhaps it would not seem like it, but the game developed by Monomi Park is based on an excellent - albeit bizarre - idea and develops it in the best possible way in a balanced and deep structure, which perhaps also benefited the long period of early access to which it has been subjected. It tells the story of Beatrix LeBeau, an enterprising girl who, tired of the usual routine, decides to leave the Earth and travel for a thousand light-years towards the "Far, Far Range" sector of space, to make her fortune by dedicating herself to breeding. of slime. Yes, because the strange planet is uninhabited by mankind, but it is quite lively as regards the local alien species, which correspond to different types of slime: little hopping creatures with different characteristics and aspects but all capable of producing a material called " plort "which, as the name suggests, seems conceptually similar to feces but which represents an incredible source of interplanetary income in the new space economy. In short, Slime Rancher puts into practice one of the ancient principles of the cultivation of the earth, which sees in excrement an important source of wealth., translating this concept in a too literal way: we therefore find ourselves managing a ranch of alien creatures entirely focused on the production of poop.
Not really a shooter
Were it not for the aesthetic choice decidedly tending to "kawaii", to see the first-person shot or the strange weapon carried by the protagonist, one would think of a first-person shooter, perhaps in Metroid style given the alien setting. Nothing could be more wrong: Slime Rancher is a sort of management that puts us in control of a ranch armed with a single handyman tool capable of sucking and shooting slime and materials, with the possibility of expanding the equipment and instruments of the farm by investing hard earned money. The first person shooter style setting makes the action particularly dynamic, with the need to dedicate oneself to various phases at a fast pace, from exploring the planet to constant monitoring of the situation at the ranch, which is why it is also important to upgrade one's equipment to allow faster movements and greater transport capacity. When the situation becomes more extensive and complex, the limitation of the subjective shot emerges a little for a game of this kind, which would perhaps require a more extensive and comprehensive look at the progress of the ranch, but the subjective gives a perfect idea of what it can mean to be the only human on a planet full of chaotic creatures that must be taken care of.
At the center of all this there are in fact the slimes, alien beings that come in various types, shapes and sizes and of which we will soon have to learn every characteristic and variant being the basis of the entire economy of the game. The creatures can be sucked up and released inside special enclosures that we will prepare and modify as needed to safely contain the various types of aliens. In fact, it is not just a matter of collecting aesthetically different creatures, but of managing a real alien ecosystem in the best possible way. whose components evidently have an innate tendency to utter chaos, essentially guided by two priorities in life: eating and producing "plort". The latter is the element around which the economy revolves, and must be appropriately aspirated and released inside a special machine that deals with the payment in a way that is directly proportional to the quantity and quality of material collected.
Loved / hated slimes
A love / hate relationship is soon created for these little creatures, so cute but also so difficult to manage. From this point of view The work done by the developers in the construction of an artificial intelligence able to follow the different species different behavioral patterns that are very simple but also well characterized is commendable. Pink slimes are the first to be found on the planet and are relatively easy to manage, they eat anything and are not harmful but if left unchecked and in large quantities they manage to organize themselves by climbing on top of each other to escape fences. plort is not as profitable as that of other species. Rocky red or blue slimes produce high-quality, well-paid scraps but have unpredictable behavior and can cause damage when moving fast. Then there are the flying ones, the nocturnal ones and the giant ones, just to give examples, and for each of these varieties it is necessary to find a suitable containment system (raising the fences, also closing them at the top, protecting them from the light) and a right method of Power supply.
In fact, each species eats different things, and to ensure a constant flow of food it becomes necessary to dedicate spaces on the ranch also for the cultivation of food raw materials including wheat, chickens, fruit trees and so on. The important thing is to always keep the situation under control, because you can progressively invest in increasingly safe and automated systems for the ranch (high-level fences, machinery for food distribution and for the collection of plort) but there is no never the certainty that everything runs smoothly when breeding counts many different species, also considering that the rarest and most profitable ones often have a tendency to have characters and behaviors that are just as difficult to manage. Therefore we always find ourselves alternating the phases of exploration with the races to the ranch to check that everything is okay, developing a relationship of affection and fear for these bizarre and remarkably vital alien creatures. Like new gremlins, there are general rules to follow to avoid disasters, such as avoiding mixing species and keeping some types particularly away from others, because wild as they are the slimes tend to eat the plort of others and generate bizarre fusions that can be precious but also harmful in the balance of the ecosystem.
Xbox One achievements
The 1000 points are distributed over 57 unlockable objectives, therefore on average with a rather low score each. Having no real story, Slime Rancher's achievements are all based on performance ranging from discovering new areas to certain actions taken. In short, simply by playing it is easy to unlock a good amount.
Space bucolic life
This is clearly an independent project with a limited budget, yet the aesthetic choices made by Monomi Park reveal a remarkable coherence in the vision of the game, which is based on a well-characterized and non-trivial style. It is true that the general cuteness may seem a little pimp, but it hides a bizarre contrast with the management difficulties and certain bad things inherent in the mechanics of the game (shooting the slimes from the weapon or burning them in an incinerator are practices considered normal in the care of one's own farm), not to mention the absurd situation of having to make money by reselling the droppings of creatures. It is clear that the humor behind the strange story of the space breeder Beatrix LeBeau goes far beyond the slightly absent smiles of the slimes., however, really endowed with a certain charisma. Stylization obviously also falls within the need to make ends meet in computational terms and graphic complexity, but the important thing in these cases is to be able to emerge with an original and characteristic style, and on this front Slime Rancher fully achieves the goal.
There are still some technical flaws on Xbox One, especially as regards the frame rate which appears somewhat unstable in different situations, but it is possible that these are problems that can be easily solved with subsequent updates, even if after such a long early access period we would have preferred not to have to wait for further updates to be able to play without problems. The stylistic compactness also includes the audio sector, which is not distinguished by particular qualities but fits perfectly into the strange bucolic / alien atmosphere, at times infernal, of this strange game. The delicacy with which the settings and the variety of these are outlined makes the exploration of the planet really pleasant, attenuating the sense of monotony that can occur in the numerous and frequent forays between the ranch and the different areas of the world.
CommentTested version Xbox One Digital Delivery Steam, Xbox Store Price 19,99 € Resources4Gaming.com
The sense of complacency that is common to all video games based on some reproduction of rural life takes on a particular declination in Slime Rancher, which is in this sense a truly original experiment. To the satisfaction in the correct management of the ranch is added the collecting of different alien creatures and the curiosity in exploring the strange world that surrounds us. The game manages to balance these components well, also enriched by a marked identity given by the particular graphic characterization. Beyond the documents scattered around, perhaps a narrative substrate or a greater variety and quantity of possible events outside the hunting / breeding mechanics would have helped to avoid a sense of monotony that occurs once the drive for discovery and expansion of the collection, but as long as this comes, Slime Rancher will probably have already done his duty.
- Excellent ranch management mechanics
- Slimes are wonderfully irresistible / terrible
- Good balance between exploration and ranch care
- Some drop in fluidity
- The subjective approach sometimes hinders a clear overview
- In the long run it becomes monotonous