Every now and again I’ll get hold of a game that is either much better or more immersive than I originally thought it would be. This was the case with Slime Rancher from Monomi Park. The premise is simple – farm a bunch of different species of slimes in order to collect their poop (plort) and make lots of money which you re-invest back into your slime capture and torture process. However, what I wasn’t expecting was to still be incredibly addicted to it after over 35 hours of gameplay!
If you like Harvest Moon, Deiland or even Farmville (if that’s still a thing), then you need to pick up Slime Rancher today – seriously, stop reading, go buy the game, play for a bit, then come back and carry on reading. I’ll wait.
An aspect of Slime Rancher that I wasn’t really expecting is the fact that there is a story in play. I thought it was just going to be an open sandbox where everything was a free-for-all. In a way, it technically is pretty much a sandbox as you’re free to progress at your own pace, but there is an underlining story in the background. You play the role of Beatrix LeBeau, a young energetic rancher who has decided to try something new and travel a thousand light-years from Earth in order to run her own ranch. However, she won’t be looking after pigs, cows and sheep, ‘Far Far Range’ specialises in slimes and their poop.
Nothing will hold young Beatrix back, if she sees a locked door she doesn’t go home and cries about it, she’ll overfeed a fat slime in order to make it burst and turn into a key. What’s that? There’s a broken bridge which she can’t cross – nevermind, she’ll construct a jetpack so she can overcome the obstacle and search out more money-makers! The depth comes into the game when you have to go and explore in order to find the various varieties of slime, create Frankenstein creations so you can obtain more of the expensive poop, and unlock new areas to expand your small ranch.
I’ve been playing for over 35 hours now and I’m still nowhere near the ‘end’ of the game. Slime Ranchers is a game you can either sink hours into or play in short bursts, it’s also a game I would highly recommend to everyone, but we’ll get to that later on…
I’m a massive fan of resource management, simulations, farming and mindless monotonous games – I know, it’s a strange combination. However, I find games I don’t have to think about too much helps me to relax and pass the time by knowing I’m progressing but not having to ‘be all there’ as I play in order to know what’s going on. As such, I can usually watch a TV show, listen to a podcast, or even talk to someone whilst I play it and not worry about getting confused with my multitasking. Slime Rancher is pretty much all of those aspects, you’re mindlessly collecting slimes and resources, creating pens to hold your prisoners, growing your own crops to feed them, and then selling off their poop to make money so you can expand and do it again to their friends.
In terms of the controls, Monomi Park has created the perfect control scheme as everything is so easy to operate and remember. At its core, Slime Rancher plays like a First Person Shooter, but with a giant ‘vacpack’ as your chosen weapon. L2 is used to suck in your victims (slimes, poop, food and chickens), R2 shoots them back out with R1 and L1 swapping between your four slots, similar to Minecraft. The Left and Right stick are your usual look and move controls (Slime Rancher also has the y-axis invert option!). Face-buttons are just as simple – Cross jumps, Square interacts, Circle pushes slimes away (when unlocked) and Triangle is your flashlight. The D-pad is also mapped to things like your map and slimepedia, but they can also be accessed with the Options button, so I never used them.
So yeah, the controls are simple to pick up and learn and the only issue you’ll have is you may blow when you meant to suck – it happens to all of us…
Round them all up!
If you’ve played any kind of farming game before then Slime Rancher will be very similar, even though it’s like nothing you’ve played before in terms of most of its mechanics. Your first task will be to purchase an enclosure to store your slimes in. Once you’ve done that, you head out and begin to capture your prey from their natural habitat. Pink Slimes are everywhere and their poop is the lowest in terms of resell value but they do have other advantages which I’ll come to later. You’ll also bump into ‘Rock Slimes’ and ‘Tabby Slimes’ in the opening area. Rock Slimes will smash into you upon sight in order to hurt you and Tabby ones are basically cats, they’ll jump into you playfully but without hurting you.
Once you’ve caught some and you’ve put them in their new prison, you need to feed them via going out and looking for food or starting up your own fruit or veg garden within your ranch in one of your free plots of land. Every time a slime eats, it poops out a ‘plort’ which you can suck up and then sell via the sales wall. Just like the stock market, the price of plorts goes up and down based on supply and demand – if you hog the plorts for a while, their price will go up, but if you sell a load then the price will lower the next day. It’s all about ensuring you play the stock market and get the best price possible.
My advice would be to simply get as many plorts as you can and then sell them off asap in the first few hours, that way you’ll have enough money to actually buy decent enclosures for your victims. For example, Tabby Slimes can jump high, like a cat, so the standard sized wall is pointless as they will jump right out! So you’ll need to invest in the higher wall. Also, you’ll want a roof otherwise they’ll all start climbing on top of each other like that scene in World War Z. You have access to a number of other things like an auto feeder, music to calm them down, tinted walls for those who are sensitive to the sun, and even a device that auto sucks up the plorts as they are pooped out! Did I mention the game get’s pretty deep?
One of the hardest choices you’ll have in Slime Rancher is which variations of slimes you wish to keep in order to make the most money – this is where Franken-slime comes into effect. If you throw two types of slimes into one enclosure then they’ll go all Human Centepide and eat each other’s plorts! This will cause the slimes to grow into new massive hybrid slimes which poop out both plorts when they eat something. For example, a Pink Slime only poops pink and the Rock Slime only poops rocks, but if you combine the two then their creation will poop one of each the Pink and Rock plot upon eating something. Another benefit is its diet. Tabby Slimes, for example, only eat meat – yet if you cross them with a Pink Slime, it’ll eat anything because the Pink Slimes diet is literally anything you throw at it.
I know what you’re thinking – why wouldn’t you simply do that every time then? To be honest – I did this until I realised why you shouldn’t. Each slime has its own favourite food. If you feed them that, they will poop out TWO plorts for each meal rather than one. I know it’s not much, but if you have a slime that has expensive plorts then you can easily rack up tonnes of cash very quickly by doing this!
However, there is a very important thing you have to watch out for. With the Gremlins, you couldn’t feed them after midnight (even though it’s technically always after midnight), slimes can’t eat two different types of poop. If they do, they become evil Ink-Slimes which are hell-bent on eating all your crops, infecting every single other slime you own and basically being a right pain in the butt! Three times this happened to me because one of them jumped over the top, before I got a roof, and ate someone’s poop without me knowing. Then, when I returned to my ranch, I was left with no slimes as they had all been turned into monsters and had eaten all my crops.
So, you have a ranch with a few trees and a few enclosures full of money-pooping slimes – what’s next? Exploration. As you walk, run and fly around the island, you’ll notice various locked doors and blocked off passages. Some will let you pass if you pay to unlock them, others require keys or a teleportation device. Hidden around the island are massive slimes (Gordos) which you must feed over 50 of their favourite food type in order to make them explode. Inside their guts, you’ll find either a teleport or a key, both of which allows you to explore even more of the island and uncover new slimes. I’ve been playing for over 35 hours and I’ve only uncovered about 8 or 9 types of slimes!
If your money is starting to burn a hole in your pocket, you can invest it into more things than just new enclosures and unlocking new areas. There is a ‘club’ which you’ll gain access too which requires you to pay a large amount to level up. Levelling up brings with it new colour schemes, new decorations and even the odd benefit here and there. You’ll also be able to purchase upgrades to your stamina, health, and inventory space as well as buying new abilities. Finally, a shop will appear where you can buy toys for the slimes to play with. Throwing the slimes favourite toy into their enclosure will help keep them happy and less likely to try and escape (as the roof can, and will, get damaged).
The latest thing I’ve unlocked is the factory. In here, you can throw in a load of plorts and rare materials in order to create machines to help you out. I’ve had a few mining devices which dig up rare materials and I’m currently saving up for an automated bot that will help me run the farm by harvesting the food and feeding the slimes for me when I’m out exploring! Every single time I turn on Slime Rancher I seem to find something new to see, do or unlock – it’s a never-ending grind-fest that is really enjoyable and truly addictive!
I almost forgot about this if I’m being honest as I’ve not personally tried it out yet. When you create a new game, one of the options is ‘Rush Mode’. This is a much more frantic take on the adventure as you have to race against the time in order to raise as much money as you can and make it to the end of the game. The big difference here, other than the timer, is the fact you have all the upgrades unlocked from the start and there are new massive Golden Slimes that explode into the rare Golden Slimes that are worth a lot if you throw food at them and collect their poop before they vanish.
I usually only talk about the graphical and audio settings here, but I’m going to start to mention the issues I’ve had in this section as well – Slime Rancher isn’t a game that runs perfectly either I’m afraid. I would say about 90% of the time, with V-Sync off (on the PS4 Pro) it ran perfectly, it had no slow down, no lag, it ran nice and fast and looked great. However, Once I started getting more and more slimes, I noticed a lot of screen tearing and when the Boom Slimes all blow up in their prison, it can cause the game to stutter for a few seconds. It’s nothing major – turning V-Sync on fixes the screen tearing and the slowdown isn’t major. It’s just something I noticed.
Visually I really adore Slime Rancher. The slimes are so darn cute! With their squidgy bodies and big derpy faces, they look awesome! The environments are also very colourful, the different areas all have their own ‘theme’, and you’re not restricted to the paths. If you have the jetpack, you can literally fly over barriers and find your own secret passages, even if you’re technically not supposed to be there. It’s a very open game. You can easily lose hours upon hours just hovering around taking in all the slimes in their natural habitat as they interact with each other. Not only has Slime Rancher got a toggle for V-Sync but it also has a Field of View slider from 60 to 90 – which is awesome!
Audio-wise, The soundtrack is brilliant. It’s very subtle and the majority of the time you’ll hear the slimes squeaking for food or ‘laughing’ and saying ‘woohoo’ as they bump into each other, but when you do hear the music it’s very farm-like and generic Harvest Moon style music – it works perfectly.
Personally, I adore Slime Rancher – the reason it’s taken me a few weeks to put out this review is that I keep playing it and finding more things every time so I wanted to play it a bit more to ensure I’ve seen most of the game. I wouldn’t have thought that a very simple game about sucking up various slimes, popping them in an enclosure, feeding them, then selling their poop, could be anywhere near as addictive as this game! I’ve even started watching a YouTuber called Sleep Deprived Gaming as she’s also playing the game and she’s finding new passages and keys which I’ve not found yet. There is so much to do and see, I have no idea when or if I’ll ever get to the end of it.
One thing which I can 100% see this game doing in the near future is the game coming to the Nintendo Switch. This game is perfect for short burst gameplay as well as long sessions when you’re at home. It’s not a technically advanced game graphically as most of the textures are fairly basic but colourful. As such, I can see it being the perfect portable game for everyone. I would suggest the PS Vita as well, but I think it would probably be a bit too advanced for Sony’s ageing system.
If you love farming games, Harvest Moon, or just general Casual Games which you can sink hours upon hours into, then Slime Rancher is a game you should place at the top of your wishlist. The game had a bit of a soft launch, with little fanfare, but it has been on the Xbox and PC in Early Access for a while and unlike most EA to Full Releases, Slime Rancher actually feels like a finished and complete product on the PlayStation 4.
Also – there is some free DLC on the PSN store which you can pick up HERE.
Slime Rancher is an amazing take on the farming genre with a very slimy twist. The game may start off a little slow as you try and make money with very limited slimes and resources, but once it picks up, you’ll be rolling in the profits every few minutes! There’s never a dull moment down at Far, Far Range as you venture out to explore unmapped territories, create new machines to help make your life easier, and round up all the various slimes in order to create over 150 combinations of Franken-slimes! Sure, some people may feel it’s a bit monotonous as you seem to do a lot of the same tasks each day, but Slime Rancher is an open sandbox, it’s only as monotonous as you let it become!
Highly recommended to all simulation, casual, farming, resource management, and family-friendly gamers. It’s such a cheap price as well, I simply have to recommend this to everyone as the game’s brilliant and sure to not only pass the time but also keep you entertained every minute you play it!
On a side note, a VR option is coming to PC as a free update soon as well – I’m hoping it makes it’s way over to the PSVR, but for now it appears to be on PC only.
- The slimes are so darn cute!
- The game is actually very, very deep with lots of mechanics which never overwhelm you or get confusing
- You'll find something new every time you play
- The voices of the slimes and music are perfect
- Easily accessible by everyone of all ages and skill ranges
- It is quite easy to get lost, even with the map
- The game does start a little slow until you have a decent system in place