What I’m Playing: Slime Rancher

Hey Everybody! So today I’m going to talk to you a bit about my newest and most favorite form of stress relief: Slime Rancher.

Slime Rancher is an adorable little game and the first project of developer Monomi Park. (You can find their website here.) The game is currently available Early Access on Steam, meaning the game isn’t quite done yet, but is still available to buy; you just have to be patient in waiting for the game to update. The most recent update was just released this past Thursday, January 19th. Though they did not release any more major features, these people seem to really be mindful of their community of players by responding with putting out bug fixes and quality enhancements as they are able.

What can I say? I’m a sucker for a good startup.

But now on to the main event: Why should you get this game? It’s simple, really. It’s just too cute. I’m a sucker for cute, and I know I’m not the only one. The world of Slime Rancher is innocent, peaceful, and beautiful–perfect for temporarily forgetting about your terrible boss, your boring job, the dishes in the sink that need washing, the laundry–really anything. The second you hear these adorable slime creatures giggle as they bounce around your character like jellified puppies, you’ll be hooked. The slime creatures themselves are bright blues, pinks, greens, and yellows; the water-laden world is sparkly, clean, and really quite romantic at times. The Slime Sea has some spectacular sunsets you can witness on a daily basis right outside your front door. And since the world has no other signs of life but your own personal ranch, the game feels almost like a naturalist escape.

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A group of Tabby Slimes from my ranch.

Thus far the game has four distinct regions: The Ranch (which also encompasses The Grotto and The Overgrowth), The Dry Reef, The Indigo Quarry, and The Moss Blanket. Each of these areas is vibrant, from the rust-colored Dry Reef styled after picturesque canyons, to The Moss Blanket that is distinctly jungle-themed with rich greens, blues, and touches of purple. (There are two more regions in development, but there is no word when those areas will be released.)

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The Indigo Quarry
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The Moss Blanket
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The Dry Reef

The concept of the story for Slime Rancher is simple and unobtrusive. You could probably play through all the content and have no idea what the story was. It’s there to add a bit of context, and more might be done with it as the game continues to be updated, but as it stands, the in-game story serves as flavor text to the charming, alien world of the slimes. The basic idea is your character is named Beatrix, and you’ve come to a planet far away from earth for the purpose of setting up a slime ranch–where instead of cattle, you keep slimes. And you sell their “plorts”–their poop, essentially, which sounds gross and yet still manages to be adorable because plorts look like gems and not what we think of as excrement–for money on the Plort Market. The Plort Market is like the Stock Market, only with less corruption and scandal.

How do you get the slime creatures onto your little patch of alien-heaven? Well, you venture out into the wild and you suck them up. Don’t be alarmed, the slimes seem to think it’s great fun to be sucked up into your vacuum gun. The most you’ll get out of them is “Whoa!” And once you have a little corral set up for them, all you have to do is aim, shoot them back out, and there you go. You’re a slime rancher. (Pro Tip: Invest in high walls early on because those little suckers like to bounce and stack on top of each other, and they’ll bounce right to freedom if you’re not careful.)

In addition to distinct regions, there are also slimes that are unique to each area. Rad and Crystal Slimes can only be found in the Indigo Quarry; Hunter Slimes can only be found in the Moss Blanket, etc. There is another mechanic in the game that allows the fusion of two unlike slimes into a larger, infinitely cuter slime called a largo. Pictured at the top are my personal favorites from my ranch, the Honey Hunter Largos, which are a mix of (you guessed it) Honey and Hunter slimes. The advantage to having largos on your ranch is you get twice the plorts for the food you feed them–which means more money. Also, you know what’s cuter than a slime? A bigger slime. I mean look at them! They’re so happy.

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But every good game has to come with some risk. The downside is that, if not carefully monitored, your adorable and beloved largo can turn into a Tarr, which is an ugly, nasty little abomination that consumes other slimes and turns them into Tarr as well–until soon you have a whole infestation. I know you don’t want that. So monitor your largos, friends. (Another Pro Tip: largos only turn into Tarr if they eat a plort unlike either of the two slimes that makes up the largo. So if my Honey Hunters ate a Honey plort, they’d be fine. But a Rock or Tabby plort? Not so much. So only keep your largos corralled with other largos or slimes of the same type.)

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A Tarr.
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I had to include this one. Look at it’s poor, scared little face. (Don’t worry. I saved it.)

I think one of the things this game has going for it is that you have complete control over how much time you invest into it. You can pick it up for a few hours here and there, get one or two things done, and then go about your business–or you can also sink more time into it if you want, and you’ll still have things to do. The recently introduced “Slime Science” has a resource-gathering component that’s bound to take up some time if you choose to delve into it. But you don’t have to, and certainly not all at once. It’s a game that can fit into anyone’s life–especially if you don’t feel like you have the kind of time to devote to playing games like The Witcher 3, for instance. They’re huge and immersive and wonderful, but if you don’t have at least 6 hours to devote to it at a time, you’re not going to feel like you got anything done.

This game is also perfect for gamers who are looking for something non-combative. The closest the game comes to combat is when your rancher has to fend off Tarr. The peaceful music turns intense and I generally spend a few moments looking around wildly thinking “Where is it?” before it will inevitably fly through the sky at me in a charge. All you have to do is shoot the Tarr with water a few times and they dissolve, so it’s really not a big deal; and you can go days in-game without seeing a Tarr if you decide to play it safe and stay inside at night when they’re most likely to pop up. Once you get into the Slime Science mechanic, there is a blueprint available for a water cannon, and if you place one where Tarr are likely to show up, you’ll never have to worry about them again. Easy-peasy.

So if you have about $20 to spare and are looking for something a little more zen, I’d say Slime Rancher is worth it. And you’ll be supporting a brand new developer that, from what I’ve seen, is interested in listening to their players to provide the best gaming experience they can, which is something I think we can all get behind.

If you do decide to pick up the game, or if you already have the game and decided to read this anyway, leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Slime Rancher is available on Steam  for $19.99.

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