My Time at Sandrock is a potentially delightful farming and crafting-based life simulator - but unfortunately, your time at Sandrock on Switch is a little half-baked for now, but has promise if updates can bring it up to speed.
Welcome to Sandrock, a dusty town in need of some help – which is exactly where you come in. My Time at Sandrock weaves together life simulation, sandbox creation, and farming sim elements, presented with a main story and plenty to do.
The town is still recovering from a calamity that took place hundreds of years ago, where their technology keeps the folk going. Thankfully, you arrive to revamp a workshop into a functional state and create a booming farm on the arid land, easing the load of the locals. Grab your tools, gather resources, and build helpful gadgets as you get to know new friends and make some sweet cash.
You may wonder if there is a connection between Sandrock and developer Pathia’s previous game, My Time at Portia – well, there sort of is. It builds on the same systems, but has a new map, story, and characters… and plenty more machinery.
Now, I must mention – I really did not have a good time with My Time at Portia on Switch. I didn’t enjoy it due to its performance, and I hoped that My Time at Sandrock would fix at least some of the issues I faced. I’m sorry to say that it does not. I tried desperately not to let my experience with Portia marr My Time at Sandrock, but, the game on Switch does not feel optimized, and is not as good as it potentially could be.
I played My Time At Portia way back in 2019, after eagerly awaiting its release on Switch. Despite a couple of patches claiming to improve the game, I dealt with crashes, graphical glitches, bugs, and just quite ugly and flat pieces of scenery in the game. I don’t know if I somehow got a particularly bad digital copy – can that even happen? – but after struggling for 20 hours I had to put the game down. It seems that, unfortunately, My Time at Sandrock follows in Portia’s footsteps.
Right off the bat, loading into the game isn’t exactly fast, but I can look past that given that even some of Nintendo’s own titles don’t load particularly quickly sometimes. Then came the opening cutscene, which had scenery popping into the background as it played.
Upon entering the world, it becomes obvious very quickly that the draw distance is not great. Bushes and grass don’t appear until I’m maybe 20 steps away, and if I start running, I get stuttering issues. This isn’t very helpful when you’re roaming around trying to collect berries and items off the ground, as you can easily miss them. Even just opening the game’s copious amount of menu tabs feels slow, and a lot of the text in the game looks a little fuzzy around the edges.
At one point when you’re in a cutscene waiting for a character – Mi-An, our first friend in the town – she took nearly ten seconds to run into frame, during which time my character just stood staring at a wall. Love that for her. Then, when Mi-An appears, she pushes a door to open it… except the door doesn’t open, and we end up running through a closed door. Honestly, I got Pokémon Scarlet and Violet flashbacks playing this. Hopefully, a patch will come to save the day and make the game much more playable, but judging by My Time at Portia, I’m not holding my breath.
A random tidbit for you here – shout out to the girl who gives you a tour of the town, but sprints off at lightning speed. Even running I could barely keep up with her. I wish I had that much energy, but alas. This isn’t an issue necessarily, but it did make me laugh and wonder how many coffees she had that morning.
Also, another random fun fact, I got the biggest jump scare I’ve had in a long time playing this. While futzing around by my workshop, looking for rocks, BAM – I got plowed into by a train. I did not hear it coming. I did not see it coming. It gave me the fright of my life. The good news is you don’t die if you get hit by a train, but I do wonder what sort of safety regulations are in place in this town if I can just wander freely on the tracks all day.
Anyway, if you can work past the iffy performance, then Sandrock may offer you a great time – especially if you liked My Time at Portia. There’s plenty to do from crafting machinery on your ranch to getting to know the locals, trying out some desert combat, and turning a profit. You can even play mini-games with the townsfolk, and there is promise of a romance system, too.
Credit where credit is due – the voice acting in Sandrock is also really quite good and fits each character well. Even the over-the-top accents fit the setting of the town, like the zany supervisor Yan’s southern drawl.
The character creator is pretty extensive, too, allowing you to customize your entire head and face – however, there are no body options. At all. There are also only two gender options, male and female, which is quite disappointing for a game releasing in 2023.
Something else to note is that the multiplayer update – originally promised with the game’s release – is now due in the summer of next year. Whether that is for PC users only, or Switch as well, I’m not so sure yet. The Switch version is already behind on updates, as they’re coming to PC first, leaving some expectant Switch players in the dust.
PC players have had access to My Time at Sandrock on Steam since May 26, 2022, when the early access version went live. Even the very first iteration of the game on PC looks better than the Switch version, which seems like it was mercilessly shoved onto the handheld without much optimization.
All in all, for $49.99/£39, I feel I can’t recommend this in its current state – it’s quite disappointing, really. I am very eager to see what performance patches come to the console version and to test it again as I love a good farmy, crafty game to sink hours into. However, if you can access the game on a PC, I highly recommend doing so instead.