Review: Slime Rancher
Slime Rancher is a cute cuddly ranching simulator where you are collecting Kirby like creatures and harvesting their “plorts." Don’t be fooled by the child like whimsy however; it’s a much deeper experience than the surface suggests. You can’t judge a book by its cover after all. Slime Rancher was one that got lost in the shuffle when it released last year. But, with a rather slow period and its recent release on the PlayStation 4 it gave me the perfect excuse to jump right in.
You play as Beatrix LeBeau, an earther, the new owner of a run-down ranch on a strange planet. Her “vacpack” is where all of her power comes from, think the proton packs mixed with the traps from Ghostbusters. They are sucked towards the pack with a vacuum beam (best I can describe it as) and then traps them in a container on the back pack. It can be upgraded to do some cool stuff. The jetpack is honestly the best part, flying around the map is super fun. The water hose is the most “useful” since you can fight off the evil slimes.
The ranching mechanic breaks down to venturing out to suck up slimes, plorts, and food. Once the slimes are fed they poop out a plort. That’s the goal, feed them and get them to poop out scores of plorts. Once the plorts are collected you can trade them in for cash. That cash allows you to upgrade the ranch, buy upgrades, and get extra goodies. It might feel a little like you are harvesting poop. While that sounds super simple, and in a way it is, there is a lot of nuance to it.
Each slime varies in rarity and the worth of their plorts. So be aware of what you decide to ranch and as time goes on you will have to shift from common ones to more and more rare ones. However, there are caveats to the shifting out of common and uncommon. A “pure” slime can be hybridized by feeding it another slimes plort. They become large and share the traits of both slimes, so when you feed that hybrid two plorts pop out, one of each pure slime. So, if you mix a pink slime and a rock slime it becomes Seth Green from the early 2000’s. There are a couple of down sides to hybridization, they are bigger and able to get out of your standard pens and can get into others eating food that you don’t want them to or worse other plorts. Secondly, they cannot be sucked into the vac, you have to carry them around and can’t pick anything else up without dropping them. Finally, they can knock you out and you lose twelve hours of ranching.
Hybrid slimes that eat the poops of other slimes can turn them into “Tarr.” They are similar to the Creepers from Minecraft, except worse because if they eat another slime it turns into another Tarr. If this happens in your ranch, it expands exponentially and can easily destroy your collected slimes. It's even worse if you get knocked out by them when it starts because you have no chance to save your slimes. There are a couple ways to kill the Tarr, one is with the water jet upgrade to your vacpack. The second one is the incinerator, it is the best way to stop an outbreak in your ranch. They are just like the hybrid slimes, they cannot be sucked into the vac. Holding them is dangerous because they can bite you but if you get them into the incinerator it destroys the Tarr instantly.
Even with the complexity it’s relaxing and to me would be a great game for kids. It’s simple to grasp and very cute. But really it lowers my blood pressure and it would be a great logic puzzle for a younger person. I don’t think that it is a game that I, or most people, would sink a ton of time into but it is a great break from competitive games that can drive you insane. If you have to watch your kid play games it's fun and you can work to help them without being imposing. Plus there's the added bonus of not dying and minimal violence making Slime Rancher a great game for everyone.