A blogger friend and I recently fell down a comment section hole with regards to the post-apocalyptic, pre-apocalyptic and intra-apocalyptic literature we’ve both been gravitating towards the last number of years, concluding at the end that we were just bloody tired of it all – tired of the dire and tired of the bleak. It can’t all be zombies and geo-political crises and environmental disaster all the time, or at least it shouldn’t be. Not if you’d like to stay reasonably sane in today’s geo-political atmosphere.
And that’s precisely what makes Slime Rancher, a sweet, colourful, gentle little game, so very, very special and unlike anything else on the games market today – it’s adorably innocent, and completely unconcerned with anything other than being cute and making its players contentedly happy. And that’s the kind of media philosophy I think we could all stand to pay a bit more attention to these days – the simple pleasures of a thing designed just to bring you joy. What a novel idea!
The Slime sitch plays out thusly: You are Beatrix LeBeau, first person Slime farmer on a planet far, far away. As Beatrix, you explore the area around your ranch, collecting resources and rounding up free range Slimes, which are round, squashy, bouncy little balls of mischievous glee. The Slime on my thumb here is a Pink Slime, the most common of the Slimes. Slimes come in all shapes (Tabby Slimes!) and sizes (Giant Golden Gordos!) and need quite a bit of managing – each type has a structured diet, and some even come with musical preferences (Rock Slimes are, quite unsurprisingly, total metalheads.) Slimes require fencing and feeding and all manner of other tending, and it’s all rather expensive. And so financial consideration is provided by Plorts, little diamond-shaped trinkets the Slimes spit out (or at least I hope it’s spit!) which act as a kind of currency ’round the ranch.
My favourite thing about the game, besides tending my large pen of grey striped Tabby Slimes, is just heading out into the nighttime desert to stand beneath the gently twinkling night sky as a cluster of Pink Slimes bounce daffily about, emitting goofy “Woo hoo!” noises with every sproing and brroing (something I tried to capture with this manicure.) With the gentle, cheerful music tinkling about merrily in the background, it’s more relaxing than staring at a computer screen should ever possibly be. It’s just a ton of fun, with no shooting, no killing and no misery. Armed with a kind of vacuum canister gun, you, Beatrix, suck up any Slimes that catch your eye and then deposit them safely back on your ranch. And that’s the extent of the “weaponry,” delightfully enough. And the worse you can do to the lone bad guys of the game, Tarr Slimes – giant black blobs shot through with rainbow veins who hypnotize other Slimes and subsume them – is suck them up with your vacuum gun and then shoot them out over the sea. Even then, if it’s between the hours of sundown and sunup, the Tarr Slimes’ prime huntin’ hours, they’ll just come back, no harm, no foul. It’s seriously such a gentle, sweet little game – I actually fear for it on the playground; the other video games will surely pick on its gentle naivete, won’t they?
Anyhow, if you’d like to check out a game that won’t have you contemplating either the end of times OR throwing your controller across the room in maximum difficulty frustration, I’d implore you to check out Slime Rancher. It’s currently available on Steam for $21.99 Canadian, and it’s a real sweetheart – well worth the very reasonable price, and a ton of fun, woo hoo!