Indie developer Monomi Park first opened its doors in 2014. They released Slime Rancher as an early access game in January 2016, with an official release on Steam on August 1, 2017. While I never played during the Early Access days, what I did play was some adventurous, gooey fun. Monomi Park’s first and currently only game is an exploratory platformer where you’re dropped on an alien planet from far away to become a farmer. Not just any farmer, though. Oh, no. You experience the farmer life collecting Dragon Quest-esque slimes of different species! Your average day consists of catching and feeding them, all the while harvesting their plorts. What is a plort you may ask? Good ole expensive slime poop. Classy way to put it, Monomi.
You start off as Beatrix LeBeau, freshly dropped off on a farm on another planet, with a single corral to contain your slimes and a handy tool called the VacPack. Your VacPack, Luigi’s shopvac given rancher form, can hold up to 4 different items by vacuuming up resources and slimes on the planet. With nothing but a few scribbles of instruction on how to move and collect the local slippery wildlife, you’re swiftly abandoned by higher forces and left to build the cosmo ranch of your dreams. You’re on your own, kid!
The main goal of this game is to make some sweet moola. In the game, you collect plorts to turn in for money at the Plort Market. The Plort Market has a convenient spot next to your home where you just shoot some of those slime toots in and make your money, honey! With the money you make, you can purchase upgrades for your corrals, buy more corrals, start a garden to feed your slimes sweet fruits and veggies, and even get upgrades for yourself. When you first start exploring, you will be able to find notes from the previous rancher, Hobson. Hobson will leave notes all over the planet, lovely little treasure troves of advice about the secrets of the planet. Hobson also tells you the wistful story of him exploring the planet and his personal reasons for why he left it all behind.
Slime Rancher has a very happy-go-lucky art style, with everything bubbly and beautiful. There are day and night cycles, but luckily you’re not required to sleep every night. The option is available to go home and crawl in bed until morning, but exploring doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down, since there are some slimes that only come out at night.
As you make more money, you can unlock new pathways to areas with different types of slimes. There are 22 different slimes, though not all of them you can vacuum up. Some slimes will do damage to you, such as the pokey rock slimes, exploding boom slimes, and wild angry feral slimes. Each slime has a favorite food, and when fed their food of choice, produce double the plorts. CHA CHING!
The worst of all slimes, though, are the Tarr. Cue the lightning! You have the ability to combine slimes and make them all big, squishy, and cute, allowing them to poop two different types of plorts. If you make a bad mix though, such as when when an already mixed slime eats a third type of plort, they turn into Tarr. The Tarr slimes will eat the other slimes and try to eat you! They will empty your corrals and wreak havoc, terrifying all of the other slimes into plorting themselves (not really, this isn’t a smart business plan). Luckily, Tarr slimes can be heard before seen. The music will change and the other slimes will cry out in despair when a Tarr appears. Tarrs have a weakness as well, though, and that’s good ole H2O. Eventually you can purchase a water tank upgrade to carry water with you as well as your items. Until you get the upgrade though, I find immense pleasure in vacuuming them to get stuck on the end of the VacPack and blasting those gooey demons to the ocean. SEA YA SUCKERS!
This game is a little more than just making money through slime poop and blasting Tarrs out of existence, though. One hot example is the story of Hobson’s life on the ranch and the decisions he had to make, compared to the life you are living. As you progress through the game, you will receive mail from someone named Casey. Casey writes to you from Earth, is obviously a close friend and living the dream of rocking out with their music. As you progress in the game exploring new areas and collecting new slimes, Casey’s letters get much more in depth. Towards the end of the game, you get a final letter from Casey. This cues a cut scene and explains the relationship between Bea and Casey leading to what is technically the end of the game.
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE!
After hearing the lovely music and watching all the names roll by the developers that worked on this wondrous game, you get yet another letter. Hobson sends a message that the adventure isn’t over yet! There are hidden vaults with untold treasures! I have yet to find these vaults, so I am not sure what are in them. In his letter he just explains that he stashed a small fortune in each of these vaults. Hopefully enough money to achieve the dreams of a little slime farmer!
I overall enjoyed playing Slime Rancher. It has a very sparkly, heartwarming feel to it that relaxes you as you play. I was a little frustrated with the repetitive trips back and forth because of constantly full inventories, but maybe that was just because I was too lazy to collect the resources to create shortcut portals. Also, such portals do not become possible until later in the game, so it’s fair game to complain about the time spent traveling to and from the ranches.
The game plays really smoothly nor have I had a single issue with crashing or losing progress. If my game data were for some reason to disappear though, I can’t say I would be mad because I would thoroughly enjoy playing all over again.