Slime Rancher Review (PS4)
Bringing down the stock market one plort at a time
Publisher: Monomi Park
I actually came to know about Slime Rancher when it was in early access years ago. At this point, I don’t remember who I was watching, but I know it was when the Puddle Slimes had their old design still and the Youtuber stopped sometime a but after they got the design they have now. I always wanted to play Slime Rancher, as this is totally a game I would dig. I forgot about this game for a while and the next time I remembered and checked it out, Slime Rancher was out of early access now with it’s own story and player character. And luckily, I got a copy of Slime Rancher for my birthday! Well, let’s see how this is, shall we?
Slime Rancher puts you in the shoes of Beatrix LeBeau who just arrived at an unknown planet called Far, Far, Range that is light-years away from Earth. You decided to become a slime rancher and while we don’t really know much of Beatrix’s past, we do know that she left everything and everyone she knew to pursue her dream. Soon enough, we learn that there are other ranchers on Far, Far, Range that are doing their own thing, only someone from Beatrix’s past named Casey is still making an effort to contact her by occasionally sends her Starmail, and the ranch you now own was previously owned by another. The previous owner, Hobson, even left notes everywhere for you to read so you can get some history on the locations they’re set at and some looks into even Hobson himself. Though, if you’re not that interested in the story you can just skip all of it. You can ignore the letters you get and Hobson’s notes easily. There is a definite end where you’ll get the credits by reading the last note you’ll find from Hobson, but you don’t really have to pay attention to it if it doesn’t interest you since you’ll get the same enjoyment either way. It’s more there for those that want some backstory on Beatrix and the ranch you now own.
Before you get ranching though, it’s time to venture out from your ranch. While you do get a short tutorial to make sure you know all the controls, you will only start with one slime and that’s not going to be enough. Not to mention, how are you going to feed the little guy? Well, just outside your ranch is a whole wilderness area that you can explore. There are various locations that make up Far, Far, Range’s wilderness, but you can’t go exploring to all of them right away. You really just start with what’s right outside where you’ll be able to get the first few slimes to help you get used to ranching. These slimes do have a tendency to appear everywhere, but there are many others that only appear in specific areas or conditions. The most common ones you’ll see are Pink Slimes, which basically like everything and can survive anywhere, but there are others like Phosphor Slimes that can only survive in the dark, Puddle Slimes that are shy little things that can only survive in water (and they’re pretty rare to come across), and Rad Slimes which emit a radioactive aura. If you come across any slimes you want to bring back to your ranch, you can easy suck them up with your vacpack. In addition, there are Gordo slimes that you’ll occasionally find and maybe end up seeking them. Gordos are basically huge slimes you can’t vac up, but if you feed them a lot of their food they’ll explode into slimes and supplies, with specific ones revealing teleporters for quick travel (or going to a specific area that’s not reachable otherwise) or slime keys that you can use to unlock these gates so you can go to the next area and grab the new slimes and food.
Talking about food, you’ll also be gathering food from the wilderness as well. All the slimes have their food preference (fruit, vegetable, and meat) and their favorite food (which you don’t have to find out yourself as every time you discover something new, your slimepedia gets updated with all available information). These grow in the wilderness where you’ll only be able to harvest them once they reach the peak of their growth. Though, considering other wild slimes are nearby, you’ll find yourself fighting for it. Fruit and vegetables aren’t that hard to come by, but the meat is considering that it’s chickens and they obviously breed slower than fruit and veggies can regrow.
Your vacpack only has 4 slots, so you’ll have to choose what you want to take wisely and make sure you return to your ranch. While the capacity for each slot can be upgraded, the amount you get can’t and it’s really easy to find yourself in a position where you have more than 4 kinds of things you want to bring back. I do wish we could get more slots, or have more than one slot dedicated to one item type, but I do understand that they want you to bring your inventory into account.
Oh and be careful. Despite how welcoming Slime Racher’s wilderness is, it’s dangerous. First of all, there are slimes that hurt. There are some that hurt because of the type of slime they are (like Rock Slimes with their rocks being pointy or Boom Slimes that explode), but there are feral slimes that will take a bite out of you unless you calm them down with food and Tarrs (made by a slime eating a plort it doesn’t make itself) that will bite you too and eat other slimes. Thankfully, if your help does reaches 0, your ranching days are not over. You’re instead put back into your home where you’ll rest until morning. However, everything you had will be lost. So if you found something rare you’ll have to be careful and keep an eye on your health.
Well now that you have some slimes and food, it’s time to get farming. It’s going to be hard as you start out, but eventually it gets easier. You start with the main ranch area where you’ll have several empty plots. These plots can then be converted into different buildings, well if you have the money, where you’ll be able to build slime corrals, gardens so you can have food growing right there (which is very helpful for food found far away), chicken coops, ponds, silos to store resources, and an incinerator. With more money granting you the ability to upgrade these so you can grow food quicker (though, the chickens still are slow) or have an automatic feeder and plort collector for your slimes.
Well, before I go on, your main source of money will be by the slimes you’re ranching. You see, feeding slimes isn’t just so they stay happy and won’t get agitated by hunger (which will cause them to attack). Whenever they eat, they will produce a plort, with their favorite food producing two. And if you have largo slimes, which will happen when a slime eats another plort forming a hybrid, it’ll produce both types of plorts and will adapt both food preferences and favorites (which is very helpful for slimes that like meat only). Though, largos can cause Tarrs to appear if they happen to escape and eat a third plort type and ruin everything. Anyway, as you guess, plorts are basically their poop. Yeah. Though, these poops do have uses and you can sell them for profit on the Plort Market. Luckily, you have easy access to selling them by shooting them out into the little collector thing and you’ll get the money immediately. Bad news? Selling a lot of plorts will reduce their value and will only rise again in a couple days. This can’t be helped early on, as you’d probably want money to expand, but what if I tell you that you can crash the plort market single handled in one day? While silos are probably meant to store extra food and stuff, you can store plorts and one slot can hold a lot. And a fully upgraded silo? Oh boy, be ready to roll in money (especially when you have high-value slimes later on). Bide your time with gathering up your massive backlog of plorts, wait for the perfect time will most of them being at their peak, and one day surprise everyone by selling them all. It’ll be a pain as you’ll go back and forth, but it’ll net you so much profit. And by the time you get that huge plort backlog again, it’ll be prime time to do it again.
Though, you can always go to the Range Exchange right by the entrance where you’ll be able to accept trade requests from other NPCs that also live somewhere on Far, Far, Range and will ask for certain items (which are dependent on the requester) and in return, will send you items as well. After a while it does become… a bit useless, but it’s a good way to get resources you don’t have.
So what can you do with your newfound (temporary) riches? Invest them into your ranch and yourself of course! Aside from upgrading corrals or farms, your main ranch area isn’t the only area you have as you can unlock other ranch areas that are meant for slimes to roam free. Where the empty plots are meant to be converted into farms or silos and the properties are helpful like The Grotto being a cave where you can host Phosphor Slimes without needing to pay for a solar shield upgrade. You can also unlock The Lab, and thus Slime Science, where you can make gadgets from plorts and Slime Science resources that range from useful (like drones to help out) to not all all (like decorations or even a basketball hoop). For yourself, you can buy various upgrades where you’ll be able to vac up water (which is useful against Tarrs, fire, or subdue the more dangerous effects of slimes), more health, more storage per vac slot, more energy to run and jetpack with, and a more efficient way to do them so they take less energy. You may also notice these pods while you were adventuring, with most of them being locked (as the DLC Secret Style pods can be unlocked right away). Well, you’ll be able to buy upgrades that will let you unlock them once you pass a certain amount of gadgets made.
Okay, but what if I still have money left? By the time this happens, you’ll already reach the end credits, but you can still use that extra money in 7Zee Corp’s Reward Club. Each tier will require more and more money and will grant you cosmetic changes and other rewards like the ability to buy Slime Toys for your cute slimes. Other than this, all you have to do is making every Slime Gadget and sit back and relax.
Now, I usually don’t talk about performance on the PS4 since most of the time it’s totally fine, but Slime Rancher isn’t a smooth experience. Also, from what I can gather from the community, it also has issues even on the Xbox One. While for the most part it’s fine, you’ll notice noticeable drops where the game will freeze for a second when traveling around, even when you’re in the first few areas you get to explore (which I’m guessing is so everything can load). It doesn’t get really bad until late game though. As you find more slimes and make largos, you’ll notice massive drops if you have a ranch where you have slime corrals together and with slimes with effects like if they explode. The worst it’ll get is in Moss Blanket, one of the late game areas that is heavy on the environment décor, where it is darn near unplayable and I ended up avoiding it after my first visit and only returning to feed the largo there. This overall didn’t effect my thoughts on Slime Rancher that much, but this is something to consider if you have a choice between getting it on console or on PC.
And as much as I would love if Slime Rancher was on Switch, as it does seem like a perfect place for it, I don’t think it’ll perform well just by looking at the other console editions.
While I did enjoy my time with Slime Rancher aside from the performance issues, it does get tiring to the point where I didn’t really have a drive to play it anymore. Luckily, while it’s a bad thing that you do run out of stuff to do, by the time I got to the ending I was pretty much done. I still have a few slimes I didn’t discover and some slime science I never did end up making, but I got my fill of it and I don’t feel regret for my gifter buying this for me. Yeah I would have preferred if there wasn’t performance issues and it doesn’t keep me hooked in it’s little claws like other farming sims, but I still enjoyed my time with it. And I’m glad I was finally able to play Slime Rancher.
So if you’re someone that loves farming sims and want to relax as you take care of your slimes and explore the land, but don’t mind it getting stale or running out of things to aim for, pick up Slime Rancher. Though, if you can, I would pick this up on PC as it struggles on the PS4/Xbox during late game.