Slime Rancher - Get Jiggy With It!
When you think of a 'cute' game many people are quick to think of something with pesky pups or curious kittens. You know, the typical game of give Fido or Mittens a couple of pats and maybe a cookie or two. End of story. It'll cause you to smile for a few seconds (if you're maybe five or just really love pixel pets) and then you're going to wonder if you can get any money for it if you sell it. Games are usually interesting if you can beat up something or fry your brain with a puzzle. But have you ever considered Slime Ranching?
I know what you're thinking. Slimes? Sounds gross and messy. Try looking up videos on Slime Rancher sometime you will find yourself smiling so much that you'll be afraid you'll get a cramp in your smile bones (that's totally a thing, shush). Let's talk about Monomi Park's Slime Rancher a currently Early Access game that has enough in it to allow me to review it as though it was fully released already.
You Can Never Have Too Many Slimes (Graphics)
Once you start up Slime Rancher you'll immediately notice the crisp, refreshing cartoon-y graphics. It's incredibly colorful and just looking at it makes me smile. The colors aren't too overbearing and they fit the game rather nicely. The designs of the slime are also simplistic, but unique and it's easy to tell which slimes are which. As of version 5.0, there are technically about 19 different slime types with one type being an extra large version of any other type. There's really no real background story or missions, you just go out and suck up joyful slimes into your vac-pac and go about your way.
Some of the slimes have different requirements to be able to care for them properly. Flying slimes like the Phosphorous slimes usually require the player to install high walls and eventually a net to prevent them flying out of their enclosures. Oh, they also die when the sun's out so you'll have to either provide them with shade or move them into a location that lacks sunlight. My favorite (not really) slime are the boom slimes who like to blow themselves up about every fifteen seconds which results in an injured rancher and a stunned slime. For such a simple design the slimes have an incredibly high cute factor and they almost put puppies and kittens to shame. If you're worried that the game might be too cute for you, don't worry.
Slimetastic Ranching (Gameplay)
From there you have to build enclosures for your slimes, but it's not that simple. You have to make sure not to mix more than two types of slimes or they'll end up becoming a nasty tarr slime that'll ruin all your hard work. Putting two slimes into one enclosure will usually result in a hybrid of the two (ex. pink slime + tabby slime = pink tabby slime). Oh before I forget there technically isn't a breeding mechanic for the slimes in the game. So I bet you're wondering 'well, how do I get hybrid slimes then?' I've got news for you buddy! You can make hybrid slimes by allowing your slimes to eat another slimes plorts. What's a plort? Oh, it's just a slime's poop. Yup, you've just encountered a game where you make cute creatures each other's poop and you also make profit from their poop. The more fancy and exclusive the poop, the more money you'll get from the exchange.
I was surprised to see that that was how the game worked, but it was something different. Not to mention that the slime's plorts don't look like traditional poop, they're just colorful little crystals that typically match the slime they came from. Hybrid slimes usually have both types of plorts (that pink tabby slime mentioned earlier will produce both pink and tabby plorts). To get a slime to produce plorts you'll have to feed them, if you feed them their favorite food you'll get more plorts from them and have a happier slime a result. Some slimes love a specific type of fruit, vegetable and others like a particular type of chicken (they're called chickadoos and chickadees in Slime Rancher). You can also have your own little chicken breeding operation going on so that your slimes can truly have fast-food every day.
For an early access game there's quite a few upgrades that can be made to your ranch and your slime's enclosures already. I'd honestly expect even more content to come when the game is fully completed.
Slime Rancher is a very relaxing and charming game that is sure to put any player's mind at ease. It is also a nice change from shoot-em up games and other games that are super serious forcing the player to stay tense and focused at all times for hours at a time. I will mention yet again that this game is currently in early-access, but has plenty of content to keep you busy for a good amount of time. With it already loaded with this much content I can only imagine how much will be in the final update of the game once it's released.
It's also a very original concept and is user-friendly to all ages, young and old. If you have a craving for disaster, just add more than two types of slimes to one enclosure and watch all your hard work go into flames. Not to mention that you're free to discard unwanted slimes into the ocean and they'll give a little happy noise, optimistic to the very end.
I've rated it 8 out of 10 stars due to its lack of story and lack of any set goals. However, the game still be enjoyed as much as any story-rich game without those features.