Monomi Park seemed to have struck gold with “Slime Rancher.” After its release in 2016, the video game received overwhelmingly positive feedback and won various awards on Steam. And why wouldn’t it? Scrolling through the Steam page, you can find reviewers writing love letters to the game, gushing about the fantastic memories and wholesome gameplay — from providing an avenue to bond with family to bringing a bright, colorful splash to a dark and difficult time in one’s life.
“Slime Rancher” was wholesome, family-friendly fun with a tranquil and beautiful soundtrack to pleasingly bright and colorful visuals. “Slime Rancher” introduced you to the world of slime ranching on a faraway planet called the Far, Far Range. The game involved keeping slimes contained on your farm, the option to spruce up your farm’s look with different decorations, a variety of minigames, a land of slime wildlife and even a time portal. Jumping and jetpacking through the world of Slime Rancher provides hours of adventure, as players find new slimes to keep on their ranch and follow a series of messages left behind by the previous rancher, Hobson Twillgers (or H, as he goes by in his messages).
After such a successful release, the next course of action for Monomi Park was to begin production on even more slimy adventures for players to enjoy. The early access release of “Slime Rancher 2” on Sept. 22 was once again met with excitement and high praise. With a new map to explore and new slimes to meet, “Slime Rancher 2” delivers yet another stress-free gameplay experience for players to move through at their own pace.
The game opens with our daring protagonist, Beatrix LeBeau, and her new call to adventure: exploring the new frontier across the Slime Sea. An abandoned conservatory with slime ranching gear was set up before her arrival, much to her surprise. She straps on her “Vacpack,” pulls up her boots and the gameplay begins. The player is given a brief tutorial introducing them to the tools at their disposal: the Vacpack, which vacuums and contains the bouncy, soft, rounded beasts, as well ejects and rockets them out into their new home and a pen that contains the slimes. The basics of tending to your slimes include feeding them, keeping them happy, making sure they don’t wreak havoc on your crops and livestock and also earning money through their “Plorts” — resources produced when they’re fed (maybe their form of waste disposal? Gross). After you complete all these tasks, it’s time to explore the new island Beatrix finds herself on.
Exploring the Rainbow Fields is a pleasant jaunt, as you’re greeted with slimes from both the first game as well as completely new ones. The familiarity lets old players glide back into the experience with ease, and the gameplay strikes a balance between simple and engaging, letting new players approach the game with no problem. On top of that, the game took its bright, rainbow aesthetic and turned the dial up to 11 — and it looks fantastic. It’s easy to get drawn in by collecting different resources and working towards upgrades, like more slots in your inventory or a jetpack to let you fly around and reach heights your normal movement wouldn’t let you dream of. Unlocking new areas and finding new types of slimes, each with their own unique behaviors, rekindles that desire to explore and find more slimes. There are a ton of new strikingly beautiful pastel vistas: the sky lights up with an aurora borealis, the giant moon looks down on the player with a big goofy slime face.
The “Slime Rancher” formula works, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. However, there’s room for expansion in the gameplay. The previous game included mini-games, which were accessed by interacting with in-game character contacts and taking a portal to their own ranches. These mini-games were a fun way to break up the monotony when the main game started to feel a bit repetitive, which it can easily become. The slimes do not interact with the player and their environment as much as they could have, either. Maybe slimes could affect the player’s movement, creating icy floors where the players slip and slide, or launch the player and other slimes backward with a burst of energy. Slimes can be combined into “Largos,” bigger slimes that share the traits of the two base slimes, but because the slimes don’t really do all that much to the player or the world around them, the Largos are a bit underwhelming and present a missed opportunity. The lack of multiplayer functionality (which was also present in the first game) and post-game content is also disappointing. However, the game has only been released in early access, so more features to keep the game fresh and exciting could be on the horizon.
It’s easy for life to bog you down, with overflowing mental checklists and each individual problem demanding your attention. If you ever start to feel stressed or burnt out, maybe consider joining Beatrix on her gooey, viscous odyssey through Rainbow Island. Listen to the gentle piano melody play over a guitar and violin that complement each other as you return home to your ranch on the hill. After a day of exploration, you’ll find your slimes’ hungry mouths and a view of the sunset that can’t help but make you grin from ear to ear.
To quote the previous game: “Always remember to use your head, but let your heart do the thinkin’ every now and again. It might surprise ya.”
Daily Arts Contributor James Johnston can be reached at email@example.com.