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My Time at Sandrock review: A tight, content-packed life simulator that won’t disappoint fans

If you're hoping for a quality, cosy simulation game with no shortage of things to do, My Time at Sandrock could be your new favourite game.

My Time at Sandrock review header image
Image credit: Pathea Games/VG247

My Time at Sandrock is a spiritual successor to 2018’s My Time at Portia – and it's a successor in just about every way, too. This time around, you’ll be the brand-new builder in the desert town of Sandrock, alongside friendly competition, Mi-an. You’ll be striving to not only have the best workshop, but to breathe life into this dwindling community on the brink of financial ruin. Which may cut a bit close to home.

It’s a peculiar blend of Harvest Moon’s and Stardew Valley’s best bits, with some mechanics more reminiscent gacha-based titles such as Genshin Impact. More importantly, though, My Time at Sandrock does what it set out to do — provide a fruitful, cosy simulation experience... even if it does feel like it’s trying to do too much, all at once.

I started playing My Time at Sandrock two weeks ago, and I’ve barely scratched the surface. This is great, because nobody wants a simulation RPG that’s bereft of content, and My Time at Sandrock is far from lacking things to do. As I started life as a builder, I was easily overwhelmed by machines and all the different resources they each provide, as well as all the different places and faces I’d have to visit regularly. Let’s not forget about the events, mini-games, and all the other things you can spend your time doing if you wish. Sandrock is much grander in scope than a lot of other farming simulation games I’ve played, and honestly, that’s a good thing.

The player attends dinner with Mort and speaks about reviving the town of Sandrock in My Time at Sandrock
Your job is to help rebuild Sandrock, if you choose to accept the task! | Image credit: VG247/Pathea Games

The feeling of being overwhelmed subsided as I began to build new machines. Much like my time with Stardew Valley, it soon becomes about planning your in-game days so you can be as efficient as possible and make more moola: talk to townsfolk, get your machines making resources for the day, mine for more resources, complete your daily Commissions, battle some monsters, and so forth. This is where a little something I practiced in Pikmin 4 came in, and that’s dandori. Dandori is the ability to organise tasks strategically and work effectively to execute plans. After all, that’s what most life-simulation games boil down to after a short while, and it comes together in a satisfying fashion in My Time at Sandrock.

The player fixes the lift down to the Eufaula Salvage Mines in My Time at Sandrock
My Time at Sandrock will see you mining more often than farming, but farming can be a big element of your game if you want it to be! | Image credit: VG247/Pathea Games

A late-game save file was also provided to me by developers of My Time at Sandrock, so I could see where the story would eventually go and have an idea of what my workshop would one day look like. Simply put, I have a lot more to do. On PC, your home can be expanded multiple times, and the grounds of your workshop can be filled with pets, livestock, upgraded machines for making resources, and even a robot who’ll keep things clean and tidy for you. Your relationships with townsfolk will net you shop discounts and more (including romance and children, just like real life), and you will witness Sandrock slowly turn from a barren desert to a bustling, green town with water in abundance.

It was really quite nice to see, and to know what I was ultimately aiming for. It was like I’d stepped onto one of Animal Crossing: New Horizons’ dream islands for a day, in search of inspiration for what to do next, and there’s a lot. While you commit to the grind, fans of My Time at Portia will be beyond pleased with what’s on display; it really is more of the same in a new setting, but this time around, you’ve more content to commit to if you want Sandrock to survive.

The player is in conversation with Macchiatio, a ditzy pet cat in My Time at Sandrock
Who can say no to a ditzy pet cat? Yes, you can have plenty of pets (and livestock) in Sandrock. | Image credit: VG247/Pathea Games

My Time at Sandrock is not new by any means, but it is refreshing provided that you don’t bite off more than you can chew. We’ve seen this tried and tested formula of spinning a desolate plot of land into a success time and time again, but what keeps My Time at Sandrock ticking along is its characters, its story, and just how tight all of its abundant mechanics are. You could spend in-game weeks grinding out EXP, money, or other resources, but the real joy of it all comes from helping townsfolk, progressing the story (especially as I strive to find out who this Logan guy really is and why everyone loves him so much), and watching your workshop productively tick away each day as you head out to explore.

It’s a game I could easily see myself winding down with during the evenings, ticking off my to-do list of tasks while wrapped up cosily. The music, the style, the brief thrill of finding rare components or clearing dungeons; it gives me the same feelings that Harvest Moon once did, but God damn, there’s a lot to be cracking on with at any given moment. With that in mind, I think it’s about time I return to Sandrock.

My Time at Sandrock leaves Early Access today (1 November) and is available for purchase on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S, Nintendo Switch, and PC via Steam and the Epic Games Store. Our review copy was played and tested on PC.

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