I don’t think I’ve found a game recently that’s as happy and chilled out as Slime Rancher. Even though it’s still in early access (though it will be leaving it soon), Slime Rancher has become my go to game to decompress and not take things too seriously. It’s adorable, it’s fun and it can be surprisingly complex if you really want it to be.
- Developer: Monomi Park
- Publisher: Monomi Park
- Previewed On: Xbox One
- Also Available On: PC (Steam)
- Release Date: Available Now (Early Access)
Slime Rancher first launched in early access in 2016 and – honestly – wasn’t even on my radar at all. I remember seeing it in an E3 montage at the Xbox press conference that year, but it simply passed over my head,
Then, one evening I was browsing the Xbox marketplace looking for something new to play when I was in a “gaming rut” that many of us find ourselves in from time to time. I was fresh out of surgery and more engaging/twitchy games just weren’t doing it for me when I was recovering. That’s when Slime Rancher piqued my interest. It was the newest release on the Xbox Game Preview program and the game description and colourful screenshots captivated me to download the free trial.
Needless to say, after the free trial expired I immediately dropped £15 to buy the game, as I was craving more of what I played.
You play as a young girl called Beatrix who has moved from Earth to the Far, Far Range on a planet thousands of light years away. You’ll start from the bottom on your ranch, building it up from nothing into a massive slime money making machine.
The titular slimes are your main focus to begin with as you venture outside of your ranch and scoop a few up to bring back home with you.
The vac-pack is your best friend when it comes to wrangling slimes. It has four slots that can hold slimes, food and other materials. By holding the left trigger you can vacuum things up and using the right trigger allows you to fire the same items out of the vac-pack. It can be upgraded with money (newbucks) which allows it to hold more of a single material, vacuum up water or emit a pulse wave to knock back unruly slimes.
Most ranchers will encounter the humble pink slime when they first leave the main gates of the ranch. These little guys form the foundation of your slime empire as they eat absolutely anything you give to them. Feeding slimes makes them generate plorts and plorts can be sold for newbucks at the plort market on your ranch.
In order to feed your slimes you’re going to need food, and luckily you can grow it on your ranch as well. Each ranch starts off with eight plots of land to build slime corrals, gardens, chicken coop, silos and more. By foraging fruit and vegetables outside of your ranch you can plant a single one in a garden in order to grow more. Gardens can be upgraded with better soil, sprinklers and scarecrows.
Carnivorous slimes will need chickens to feed on and you can get a steady supply of of these by building a chicken coop or by purchasing one of the numerous expansions to your ranch.
Once you’ve started a basic ranch and have a steady supply of newbucks coming in you can focus on upgrades and going after more difficult slimes. Slimes that are hard to contain or voracious appetites will be a real challenge for you but will ultimately pay off in the long run as their plorts are worth more than the easiest slimes to obtain.
You can also feed slimes a plort of a different species which will transform it into a largo slime. Largo slimes are a combination of the slime you fed and the slime that the plort you fed it belonged to. For example, if you feed a pink slime a plort from a rock slime then it will become a pink rock largo slime. Largo slimes will produce plorts from both species and can be fed both species preferred foods.
Keeping largos around can have risks and consequences though. If a largo slime goes on and eats another plort from a third species then it will transform into a tarr. The tarr attack everything and anything – including you – and will transform any slimes they eat into more tarr. They’ll also rot your crops if they get too close to them as well. An outbreak on your ranch can be devastating.
You can also spend newbucks to buy additional space on your ranch such a grotto for slimes who prefer the dark, the overgrowth – which naturally spawns chickens and vegetables – and the barn which can be used to craft new items using slime science. The most recent addition to the game is a dock area which has a natural pond and waterfall that is perfect for puddle slimes.
Out on your adventures outside the ranch you’ll also find humongous gordo slimes. These slimes – when fed their preferred food – will explode with rewards including food, slimes and keys to open slime doors. Slime doors lead to newer areas where the most lucrative slimes reside. From lush jungles to quarries and ancient ruins to glass deserts there are a great variety of environments.
My only real complaint with Slime Rancher is that there isn’t really an end goal to work towards. There’s a lot to do, don’t get me wrong. You can unlock upgrades, ranch slimes and explore to your hearts content, but when there’s no real reason to do so it makes me think of Slime Rancher as more of a relaxing and therapeutic gaming experience than anything else. I’d love if there was a way for me to “complete” Slime Rancher. To be given closure and a more engaging story than what is in the text logs scattered across the Far, Far Range.
Slime Rancher is still a work in progress though and I can foresee a lot of great things in its future. Monomi Park consistently outdo themselves with each update. Each one is more ambitious than the last, adding more intricate gameplay features and more bizarre – yet still adorable – slimes.
The more I think about it though, I’d honestly still be content if the game does remain exactly the way it is, because it’s still able to bring me back to it on a regular basis. It’s up there with the likes of Animal Crossing, Stardew Valley and Viva Pinata as one of the most carefree and least stressful games you could ever play. Viva Pinata in particular is just as fun and doesn’t necessarily have an ultimate end goal/story. I love Slime Rancher for what it is, and it’s always great to come home and ranch some slimes after a stressful day at work.
It’s simple enough for kids to enjoy and is most certainly complex enough for adults to enjoy as well.
(This game was purchased by the author of this article)