I think I might be missing the point of Slime Rancher. I find myself dropped onto a planet with a vacuum and a fenced off area. I’m told to vacuum up slimes and put them into the pen, feed them, and collect their poop for money. Yes. Poop money. To what end I don’t know. I can explore the world and collect more slimes to put in more pens to collect more poop. Perhaps there are exciting things to find in the world, but after a couple of hours of hoovering up crap (figuratively and literally) I have no interest in finding out.
Starting at your ranch, you venture out to find slimes and other items to hoover up and take back to turn into money. Money can be used to build or improve pens, build other structures, upgrade your equipment, and unlock new areas of the world. Various logs can be found detail the adventures of the rancher who came before you, but those I found were fairly uninteresting.
Some slimes are aggressive unless you feed them the food they like (which can be found lying around or grown at the ranch), but most are benign and can be walked around with no problem. During my explorations I came across some treasure boxes that I couldn’t open, and doors that required “slime keys”. What are slime keys and how are they acquired? No idea, it was never explained. I eventually found out after going back and forth to a giant slime over and over again, but that was more luck and persistence than any signposting. I don’t have a problem with discovery in gameplay, but I believe some direction is necessary in most games. In many games I don’t mind looking up information online to find out more about optimum builds and finding secret items (the Souls games are a great example of this) but I simply didn’t care enough to want to find out more. I didn’t know why I should care about what I was doing, so I didn’t bother.
Mechanically the game works well enough, with your vacuum sucking up items of value (although sucking up the item you want can be a pain as it pulls in anything in front of it) and spitting them out where you want them. The problem here is that your vacuum can only hold 4 different items (at first, I don’t know if this changes later on) meaning you’re constantly backtracking to the ranch to offload your stuff. The game descended into me running forward a bit, collecting things then heading back, then going a little further and returning. Continue ad nauseum. The jetpack upgrade makes traversal through some areas quick if you don’t want to faff about but it doesn’t remove the issue. There’s a day and night cycle too, with nights being more dangerous meaning hanging around the ranch (or sleeping until morning) becomes necessary.
I can’t fault the graphics or sound a great deal at least. Visually it looks lovely. All the slimes I found were adorable, with all of them being distinct. The world looked lovely with plenty of variety in environments (shame I couldn’t find a reason to want to explore them). The sounds are nice too and very in keeping with the game as a whole.
I get the feeling that this just isn’t the sort of game for me. If it weren’t for the fact that this was a free Games with Gold game on Xbox then I probably wouldn’t have touched it. If you’re someone who is very much into the “make your own fun” sort of games then this could provide a bit of entertainment, but it didn’t for me.
Slime Rancher was developed and published by Monomi Park. I played the game on Xbox One and wouldn’t recommend it. Time is as valuable as money for me these days, and this sucked up a couple of hours that I won’t be getting back. If you’re in the market for a cute farming style game then this might provide some fun, but I was bored after a couple of hours.