My Time At Sandrock Review – Move Aside Stardew Valley

Bring prosperity to a dying town and make a name for yourself as its resident builder.

My Time at Sandrock Review
Overall
4
  • Story And Setting
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals And Performance

Verdict

My Time At Sandrock, despite its shortcomings, provides a satisfying town simulation experience that’s only held back by bland combat.

Pros

  • Great Gameplay
  • Lively Visuals
  • Interesting Story
  • Engaging Characters

Cons

  • Jarring Animations
  • Shallow Combat

A dying town situated in the arid climes of the Eufaula Desert, working its way up to survive and grow against all odds beckons you to come to its aid.

Key Takeaways
  • Developer: Pathea Games
  • Publisher: Focus Entertainment
  • Release Date: October 27, 2023
  • Platforms: PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5
  • Game Length: 80 Hours
  • Time Played: 140 Hours
Editors Note: We managed to put dozens of hours into both Early Access and the 1.0 release before preparing this review.

Known as Sandrock, you will be working as one of its two resident builders, aiding the townsfolk in their battle against the dangers of the desert and their everyday lives as you unearth a shocking conspiracy.

But how does the second entry in the series hold up? Tag along as we break down this sandy, post-apocalyptic world in our My Time At Sandrock Review. 

Story And Setting

Story. (Captured By: eXputer)
Story. (Captured By: eXputer)

My Time At Sandrock is set in a desert with the overall vibe being very reminiscent of the Wild West, combined with the backdrop of post-apocalyptic fiction. Sandrock itself has to wrestle with the hand it’s dealt to continue existing.

With its resident builder, Mason, going out of the picture, a newspaper ad catches the player’s eye and brings them to this desert husk from their hometown of Highwind.

The plot starts with the player character on a train en route to Sandrock as the camera pans towards an ominous figure observing from a cliff nearby. Upon arriving at the station, you are greeted by a fellow builder, Mi-an, who’s new to the town just like yourself.

My Time At Sandrock focuses on the town simulator aspect, but it combines that with a fairly interesting yet comedic story packed with a decent amount of twists and turns.

With salutations out of the way, the two meet up with Sandrock’s Commerce Guild Master, Yan, and are given a rundown on how things operate in the desert.

After building your Pickhammer and a Recycler, you stumble upon Yan tied up in a conflict with Rocky, a miner who commissioned a Crane Lift and isn’t very happy about the delays. The game wastes no time in having you get to work and resolving the matter at hand.

My Time At Sandrock focuses on the town simulator aspect, but it combines that with a fairly interesting yet comedic story packed with a decent amount of twists and turns.

Tying the building activities to the narrative of the game is a good way to not make it feel like a chore but this leads to a disparity where you’re engaging in action movie sequences while just being a builder.

Characters have a fairly interesting background. (Image Captured By: eXputer)
Mi-an. (Image Captured By eXputer)

While the two elements are great on their own, it’s their fusion that creates an incoherent experience, something that pulled me out of the narrative and made me wish it would just come to an end.

I may have my grievances here but the story does eventually come to a rather satisfying and heartfelt conclusion.

Gameplay

Combat (Credits: eXputer)
Combat. (Credits: eXputer)

The game combines aspects of RPGs with simulation titles and splits its gameplay into three different departments—procurement, processing, and combat. On top of that, you have a dynamic day and night cycle which ties into the mechanic of going to sleep at a proper time every night. 

You won’t play a town simulator for combat and action and in my opinion, it’s the weakest element of My Time At Sandrock. The system is barebones, and clunky, and only serves the purpose of procuring resources by hunting the local wildlife. 

Gameplay. (Image credits: eXputer)
Gameplay. (Image credits: eXputer)

The Break mechanic combined with the overall lackluster moveset not only disrupted the flow of combat but also made me feel like I was playing a half-baked free-to-play MMORPG. What made it even worse were these forced main events where I had to fight.

You won’t play a town simulator for combat and action and in my opinion, it’s the weakest element of My Time At Sandrock.

If you’re going to include mandatory combat segments in a town sim, at least make it so that the gameplay is fun and engaging instead of being frustratingly bland and boring.

This downside is contrasted by the enjoyable experience of gathering resources and building things. My Time At Sandrock allows the player to grab commissions from the Commerce Guild and build the required items.

These tasks reward you with the game’s currency, reputation points for your Workshop, experience, and relationship points for various characters.

Traversal. (Captured By: eXputer)
Traversal. (Image by eXputer)

I had a fantastic time doing everything in My Time At Sandrock that did not involve combat. This includes side activities like Sandfishing, horse riding, going to the Gamecenter, building relationships with people, and much more.

Admittedly, these systems aren’t as fleshed out as they are in other games but Pathea has done a great job with what it had and it’s worth a round of applause. It does take a while to get used to the interface and all the systems but once you get into the flow of things, it’s fairly engaging.

Visuals And Performance

Visuals. (Image Captured By: eXputer)
Visuals. (Image Captured By: eXputer)

My Time At Sandrock is in no way a visual and technical marvel but it does provide a rather stable experience. In an era where the “release now, fix later” mentality reigns supreme, it’s always reassuring to see developers releasing a game that’s relatively free from bugs at launch.

The game uses stylized art to portray its world and characters and is similar to the Pokemon games in its aesthetic. Not only was it visually appealing, but it pulled me in gradually as I continued my journey. The occasional sandstorms were rendered well and it added to the intensity of the situation.

My Time At Sandrock is in no way a visual and technical marvel but it does provide a rather stable experience.

On the performance side, it has some issues that I felt were rather intrusive. One of these was the shifting of shadows as the day went by. Instead of a smooth transition, you could see shadows move frame by frame and it felt like the game was stuttering, which was extremely distracting and constantly took me out of the experience.

Another thing I noticed was the jarring NPC animations. Movement of the heads, hands, and body, most of the action taken by NPCs felt unnatural and creepy. What makes it stand out even more is the quality of the game’s voicework which is rather impressive.

Plus, objects in the world have weird physics. If you were to dig something at a lower level, the objects at the top would remain suspended in the air.

The silver lining here is that I didn’t encounter any game-breaking bugs or crashes that would significantly ruin my time at Sandrock. Yes, that was meant to be a pun.

Verdict

Verdict (Credits: eXputer)
Verdict. (Credits: eXputer)

My Time At Sandrock, despite its shortcomings, provides a satisfying town simulation experience that’s only held back by bland combat. It holds fast to the essence of the series while improving upon several elements and using its setting to provide an adventure filled with architectural excitement.

If you’re not averse to sitting through the initial stages of the game where everything moves at a pace slower than a tortoise and dig through to the gold, you’ll be in for an enjoyable ride. 

This has been our My Time At Sandrock Review. While you’re here, consider checking out some of our other articles. 

This is box title
Get This Game
For its engaging town simulation experience and fairly interesting story.
Dont Get This Game
If you are not interested in grinding for resources and building structures, and want something more mainstream.
Do I Need To Get This Game
If you are a fan of the simulation genre and Pathea’s previous game My Time at Portia.
Alternative Games
  • My Time at Portia
  • Stardew Valley
  • Harvest Moon: The Winds of Anthos
  • Rune Factory 5
  • Rune Factory 4
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Haddi is a Senior Writer & Editor at eXputer who loves to play games and talk about them like a fanatic. Hadi's years of experience in this industry let him provide a unique and critical perspective on games to share with his audience. His work is also featured on several other websites. You can hit him up on his gaming profile at Steam!

Experience: 5+ years || Previously Worked At Gamepur, Gear Siege, GearNuke

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