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Slime Rancher! Review (Xbox)

Developed by Monomi Park, Slime Rancher is currently FREE as the first part of xbox's August Games with Gold! Going forward, it will retail at £15.99. I purchased Slime Rancher back when it came into Game Preview a year ago and definitely do not regret my decision. I would say that its price tag for the amount of content in this game is spot on.

It's a cute little cartoony game with charming music playing in the background which certainly intensifies whenever you wander into trouble! I found it very easy to pick up and play and quite quickly became engrossed in it. I can easily spend a whole day playing. It is technically adventure mode but there is a story to be found. There are notes left all around the map from the previous owner of the ranch, Hobson Twillgers. You learn about the world, get tips and eventually will find out what happened to Hobson.

Your character, Beatrix LeBeau has their own ranch, and vacpak (a vacuum-like-gun) which picks things up (LT) and shoots them out (RT). As far as controls go, that's all you really need. Perfect. I dare say I may (which in parent language always means no!) let my kids have a turn!

Essentially you are left to your own devices to get your ranch up and running. There is the option of earning money (the currency of Slime Rancher is Newbucks) - by selling 'plorts' that the slimes excrete when you feed them. There is a vending machine on your ranch where you can deposit them and each day each plort's value will go up/down/remain the same as the day before. So timing when you sell them is crucial in order to make a profit!

There is also a daily order which asks for certain products each day (could be plorts/chickens/foods) in order to receive a reward- it will tell you what the reward is and will refresh the following day so absolutely no pressure to fill the order if you do not wish to. My only suggestion would be to not deposit some of the requirements hoping to fill the rest of it later because if for some reason you don't manage to, you won't get any of it back!

There is a vast amount of slimes, some friendly, some harmful and some just plain hostile around the world. You can even force some slimes together in order to create new slime species, a Largo slime. These are created when it eats a plort unlike its own. Largos are great for plort production as they produce both sets of plort from their parent slimes. For example, a regular pink slime could eat a tabby slimes plort which would create a Tabby Largo which, after eating, would create both pink plorts and tabby plorts. Feeding slimes their favourite foods will lead to them producing double plorts!

Of course, trouble begins when a Largo eats the wrong kind of plort (one that they didn't produce) and creates: The Tarr!

I found this out the hard way, just as I was making good progress with my slimes and collecting lots of different types of plorts ready to sell another day, The Tarr slime turned up and I lost EVERYTHING. I have to admit, I needed a few minutes to gather my thoughts and start all over again.
Only now I am equipped with the knowledge that water will stop them from reproducing and if I shoot enough water at it- it'll die. Just don't let your water tank run dry!

In case you're wondering... below is what The Tarr slime looks like... You have been warned!

You begin with just 8 plots, but with upgrading and expanding your ranch you can have 26 available to you. Below is a list of what can be placed on a plot.
  • Corral - you collect your slimes and place them in here.
  • Garden - you grow your fruit and veg here.
  • Silo - for storage, obviously.
  • Incinerator - it will burn anything you throw at it (literally!). It also, when upgraded to include an ash trough, will house and feed fire slimes.
  • Coop - for chickens.
  • Pond - a source of water (that can run dry!) and a home for the puddle slime which is a firm favourite of mine.
Everything you place on your ranch plots are upgradable and they honestly do make life so much easier, from ensuring your chickens are fed to collecting all your plorts in the corrals.

You can buy 4 expansions to your ranch which will give you more plots to build on. The most worthwhile expansion, in my opinion, is the Lab. At 10,000 Newbucks it is the most expensive but it is also enables you to craft gadgets from blueprints, which can be found in treasure pods around the world (which can only be opened once you have access to the Lab or bought from the Builder's shop (also in the lab).

Here you will be able to create toys, decorations and other useful things to help you travel/manage and defend your ranch. I should add that it is more than possible to earn 10k Newbucks in a day by selling as many plorts as you can at the plort market- rad and crystal plorts earned me quite a lot! To maximise profit, I stored all of my plorts in silos and the corrals and waited for a day at the plort market where there were more green arrows than red!

Now we have covered the ranch, we can talk about the rest of the world. Any free time you have remaining after your ranch duties are done, you can use to do some exploring! There are plenty of places to go in the wilderness, some places may require a special slime key to access it. Not all gates need to be unlocked in order to access the entire map but as it stands, there are more keys than gates so no need to worry about being "locked out" of anywhere.
It may be worthwhile googling which gates will unlock a new area to explore if you find yourself running around in circles stumbling upon the same old slimes. I say this because I used a slime key and unlocked a gate which was a shortcut to an area that I was already familiar with. I double checked the gates after that because as much as I do love convenience in a game, I also love accessing new areas!

Keys can be found by feeding certain types of Gordo (even bigger than Largos) slimes until it bursts. The other Gordo slimes won't drop a key but will reveal a teleporter- saving so much time having to navigate all the way back home again after a long day exploring. I do manage to get lost quite easily and some areas really do not have any landmarks around to help you remember which way you came from. There is nothing quite like walking in great big circles only to return to the exact same place again and again!

Once you have explored the world of Slime Rancher and feel like you want to try something new, there is a different game mode: 5 Day Rush! Adding so much more playability to the game, the challenge mode is very welcome. You have 5 days and have to make as much money as possible. Sounds easy, right? Well 5 days goes pretty quickly in the world of Slime Rancher!

Slime Rancher plays really well, I have not suffered any frequent lag in gameplay, not a single crash back to dashboard. There have been two times so far that there has been stuttering and a slight pause in gameplay where I thought a crash was imminent however the game recovered after a few seconds. Oddly, it seemed to coincide both times with a notification popping up on my xbox.
Usually with new games I tend to suffer the first few weeks with allsorts of problems which honestly puts me off that game and really makes me rethink buying games on release. I have been pleasantly surprised by Slime Rancher's stability. Perhaps it is as a result of being part of xbox's Game Preview program that has ensured a strong release.

Slime Rancher has 57 achievements available for 1,000 Gamerscore. Although some are more difficult than others, none are currently unobtainable or can be missed. I love a game that has original, well thought out achievements and not the bog standard progression achievements.
The achievements, for the most part will be unlocked through natural play. There are some that will require forethought (earning 5,000 Newbucks in a single day - unlocks "A Quick Newbuck") and others that are just downright brutal (throwing a baby chick into the incinerator - unlocks "You... Monster") but they are all good fun and you can clearly tell that the developers have put a great deal of effort into their achievement list. If you're looking for help or guidance with any of the achievements, head over to True Achievements where you will find plenty of useful information!

Overall, I rate Slime Rancher really highly- 8/10 if I had to give it a number. I would have given a perfect score if it had a little more to do around the world or perhaps the ability to trade with/gift other players? A solid start from Monomi Park- I can't wait to see what they do next!

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