Slime Rancher is an Open World game that has us raising slimes as Beatriz Lebeau. We start off in our humble little ranch with nothing but a bit of cash and a “vacpack” which is used for collecting both slimes and items as well as flinging them back out to a different location. Without much to do at first, we are free to go off the ranch and explore the world that lays beyond. All of it is not unlocked from the get-go, in fact very little is. In order to reach new locations, one must find a giant slime, feed him until he explodes from overeating and take the key from his remains. Okay, that sounds darker than it really is when written down, but it’s all pretty kid friendly with nothing but bright colors and good-natured humor to it.
Once you find the slime of your choosing you must capture it, build a corral on your ranch to house it and plop it inside. It doesn’t feed on air however so one must constantly feed it either meat, vegetables or fruits depending on the eating habits of that specific slime. As soon as it eats a meal, it will squeeze out a “plort” crystal which you can then sell by firing it into a nearby machine. It is your duty to then keep the little guy fed either by going out into the world and finding new stuff for it to eat or by building your own garden to become self-sufficient. Building a garden as well as anything else will cost money so at first, we’ll likely have to snatch carrots right under the poor wild pink slime that was about to eat it. One can fit as many slimes into a corral as they can but must make sure to be able to feed them, or they’ll get aggravated and desperately find some way to escape.
Not all slimes are friendly such as the iconic pink one, some like the Rock slime will go out of their way to try to kill you, and we have no method of attacking. At best we can buy an energy push upgrade for our vacpack, later on, to give them a slight nudge to get out of the way. It is very unlikely one will ever die in this title. We have a health bar that refills quickly and can take quite a bit of damage, with upgrades to your overall amount of health being cheap to purchase. As you may imagine, having an aggressive slime such as those makes it more challenging to collect plorts from them, since we can’t simply walk into the corral to get them without being mauled. That’s where the auto-collecting upgrade for the corral comes in. It vacuums up all the plorts with the press of a button though is a pricey upgrade.
Typically, the more difficult the slime is to farm, the more its plorts will cost due to supply and demand. This title features an actual stock market where prices inflate and deflate on a day to day basis, making it far more interesting than just finding the slime that makes the most cash. Your money making corral can be near worthless the next day, making it a far better idea to store the plorts for when stocks are high before selling. It is a brilliant feature that encourages you to buy more upgrades and different corrals in that ever addictive formula of needing to spend money in order to make money. More slimes mean more gardens to keep them fed and more storage for their plorts among other things. Eventually, we will run out of space in our plot of land and will need to buy more in order to expand.
There is quite a bit of land to purchase, ranging from caves to the seaside and even our own lab. In time, the sheer size of our ranch will get to be a bit much. We will have to run all over the place in order to pick up crops from our garden, feed slimes their specified food, collect plorts and then run back to sell them into the stock market machine. We have some automated help in the form of the auto-feeder and auto-collector, but we must still stock them up with food and gather the plorts when it gets too full. It only gets worse when we purchase the lab and can shoot plorts into it for research instead of selling them. The main thing that makes this process so tedious outside of the size of the ranch is that we can only carry four items at any one time and they can’t be the same type. Say you max out your carrying capacity and pick up 50 carrots, well even if you are carrying nothing else it won’t let you pick up a second batch of carrots to haul around for some arbitrary reason.
Each specific plort takes up one of your four slots, and there are a ton of different types food including various breeds of chickens that each need their own slot among many other things to carry around. Being able to only carry four objects just feels mean and forces us to needlessly run back & forth throughout the entire farm. It leaves us very little time to go out and explore once we’ve finished the work that feels more frustrating than relaxing. Later on, they introduce a feature that allows us to set drills and pumps around the land. We have to manually walk over there each every 12 minutes, and they often continue three types of resources, so we best have an empty inventory to go. It just gets to be too much to the point that I had to take most of my slimes and give them the “old yeller” treatment just so I could actually play the game instead of feeling like this was an actual job.
On a more positive note, I quite enjoyed exploring the decently sized world with each area feeling unique. Our main objective while out and about is to find the giant slimes that may possess a key in order to explore further into the planet. Also scattered about are treasure pods which you can not open until you research an appropriately advanced cracker. Green are the easiest, blue are more advanced and purple treasure pods are the hardest to open. How to unlock more advanced crackers is something I had to look up on Google which is bad in itself but even then, exploring the world then finding treasure that we can’t open is not something I’m a fan of, especially considering how little time to explore we have later on. While exploring we may find ourselves out in the dark, and the game does state it is more dangerous though I didn’t really find that to be the case so coming back to your ranch to sleep until dawn is completely optional.
Only the first few areas have a teleporter back to your ranch, unlocking the Lab will allow you to build new ones. You can only build a limited amount however, as each have there own pair that can only work with one another, so choosing your locations wisely is a must to avoid a long walk back. As you walk around in the untamed lands you will occasionally run across the Tar slimes. These are made when a slime eats two plorts that are not his own. So say a pink slime eats a rock plort, if it then eats another different plort it will become corrupted and become a Tar. These black oil like creatures will consume any slime it can get its hands on and corrupt them as well leading to them being able to multiply at an alarming rate. One can easily just fly away on our jetpack if it occurs in the wild but you do not want that happening in the Ranch.
Feeding a slime a plort different to its own is not inherently a bad thing. Doing so will cause them to grow much larger, and they will become a mixed breed of the two different types of slime. The benefit to this is that their eating habit is mixed so if one slime could only eat fruits while the other just ate meat, now they can consume both. They also keep their same favorite foods so mixing a difficult to handle slime with one that has a favorite food that is easy to come by will net you quite a bit of profit since it will squeeze out two of each plort after eating it. There is much money to be made in a mixed breed but also plenty of danger should they eat a third unique plort. Tars can be killed in one of two ways. Either by shooting them with water if you’ve purchased that upgrade or flinging them into an incinerator. Or actually, you can just fling them down the cliff and into the cold, relentless sea like you would any other unwanted slime.
The most beneficial things to buy that doesn’t have to do with farming are the vacpack upgrades. They feature quite a lot of things to upgrade such as the amount of energy you have to sprint or use your jetpack, efficiency of sprinting and the previously mentioned ability to shoot water to name a few. With the amount of running you’ll be doing around the place, you’ll definitely want to increase your energy and sprinting efficiency as soon as you can. Aside from that, we can buy upgrades to our farm via the 7zee club menu from the inside of our home, and another way to spend cash is to buy blueprints in the lab. It’s easy enough to become rich, and money is never really an issue if you ignore the mostly cosmetic 7zee club upgrades. Even if you go broke and spend a ridiculous amount for a new paint job for your house, you will very quickly regain what you’ve spent as long as a Tar outbreak doesn’t occur.
There are a few simple puzzles to be found around the world such as needing to shoot a specific plort into a statue’s mouth in order to progress, but that is mostly towards the end. Slime Rancher does feature an ending though its mainly for the people that want some kind of end goal to reach. In its heart, it is still an Open World game so that ending doesn’t really mean much since it still features a ton more to do afterward. Heck, while I was writing this review developer Monomi Park added quite a meaty update that introduced a large new area, more slimes, significant tweaks and a new Casual mode that lacks Tars. They also have more content planned which is pretty awesome considering the game was already packed with content to begin with. It does have some flaws but Slime Rancher is still a game that is easy to recommend to anyone looking for a fun, creative take on the Farming genre.