My Time at Sandrock review: Déjà vu for My Time at Portia fans

My Time at Sandrock review: Déjà vu for My Time at Portia fans
Images via Pathea Games

Written by 

Ava Thompson-Powell


1st Nov 2023 15:00

Having been in early access on PC for quite some time now, My Time at Sandrock is the second entry in Pathea Games’ lineup of cosy building games, this time whisking players off to the dusty, wide-open frontier in a new age, Wild-West-themed environment full of rocky cliff faces and plains to explore.

Whether you’re looking to forge friendships with the town’s many residents, help them out by fulfilling commissions, or taking the time to decorate and expand your own plot of land, My Time at Sandrock is an absolute no-brainer when it comes to kicking back and settling in for a meandering jaunt out on the open frontier - but it may leave you with a bit of déjà vu if you’ve played My Time at Portia.

GGRecon Verdict

My Time at Sandrock is a game that you’ll have no trouble getting into if you’re a fan of the genre. If you’re new to cosy games on the whole, though, it’s also one that is easy to pick up and play - making it a great entry-level title for those checking out something slower in the colder months and dark nights.

Back in Sandrock's heyday

Image of a character in My Time at Sandrock
Click to enlarge

The main premise of My Time at Sandrock is to restore the town of, you guessed it, Sandrock, to the glory days of the past from its current struggles. Upon arriving in the town via train, you’ll be introduced to Mi-an, another recent arrival and fellow Builder, as you are - who serves as an initial guide to get you up to speed by showing you to your workshop (previously owned by the now-retired Mason) and other need-to-know details like crafting and collecting.

If you’ve played My Time at Portia, you’ll be on familiar ground, as its aesthetic and setup are almost identical to the first game, but with an ambling, acoustic soundtrack that’ll have anyone wanting to kick their cowboy boots off to sit back in their rocking chair for a slow Sunday. It’s very much a continuation of what made that game a fun experience to play (and one of the reasons I backed My Time at Portia on Kickstarter).

Character creation here is straightforward and familiar, but new players will appreciate a decent number of choices to create a look that fits your personal style with varying voice styles, makeup, tattoos, and more. You can name them, too, though Sandrock’s residents will never utter it out loud during their segments of voiced dialogue.


character creation screen my time at sandrock
Click to enlarge

There are additional options here to combine different styles of bangs with different ponytails, pigtails, and more - you can even change your bang and hair length for even more fine-tuned customisation that’s always welcomed.

Somewhat strangely, Sandrock’s HUD feels very much akin to something you’d see in an MMO game - with enemy mobs congregating in certain areas with ‘Lv5 Bumble Ant’ and resident’s names hovering over them in text, for example, and it’s a theme that runs through the whole game.

You’ll see the townsfolk going about their day, with the likes of Mi-an wandering to and fro throughout the world, helping it to feel like you’re co-existing in more of a living, breathing world than you actually are.

Because of this, despite playing alone in my own world, the setup of the game had me feeling like I was in a multiplayer world - sort of something like Palia - than I actually was.

As you play, you’ll be crafting items at your homestead’s Worktable, making all manner of items from your Pickhammer to get started through to requests the Commerce Guild and Sandrock’s other residents require of you, which can be picked up at the Commission Board, all with their own star rating (essentially, a difficulty rating) of 1-5.

Exploring the world is crucial, as you’ll uncover Data Discs (basically CDs from the Old World) to learn more recipes, and treasure chests provide nice additional bonuses that can also then be broken down for some additional salvage to use in your builds.

Some of these builds will also need resources to run, like the Recycler, which can break down scrap so that you can use it again in your building.

Image of the Recycler UI in My Time at Sandrock
Click to enlarge

A town teeming with personality

Sandrock’s vibrant, eclectic cast is truly where it shines. From Jasmine, the newspaper girl who takes you on a town tour to incredibly cute animals like Nemo and Macchiato; or the frankly fabulous Sandy, Sandrock’s camel mascot; Pathea Games excels at creating memorable, fun characters that are genuinely a joy to get to know.

Sandy, the town mascot in My Time at Sandrock
Click to enlarge

All of these characters help to sweeten the deal of what I often find to be a bit of a bore: The never-ending slog of toing and froing to build this or that for Tom, Dick, and Harry in a loop before delivering it here or there.

They’re all incredibly unique, and as you’ll be spending quite a lot of time getting to know them, it’s just as well - and you’re able to do quests for them over time before hanging out with them, chatting, or gifting presents to improve your relationship (or even at certain stages for some characters, romancing them).

Tried & true cosy gameplay

Screenshot showing the menu in The Blue Moon from My Time at Sandrock
Click to enlarge

Sandrock’s saloon, The Blue Moon, has a menu that can be ordered from each day, with a daily 60% off special for a hearty, cheap meal that provides a great way to keep your energy topped up and bestow particular buffs while completing all manner of tasks as you zip around the map.

There are some genuinely fun twists on typical cosy gameplay too, with Sandfishing making for a kitschy take on fishing, where you’ll have to head to sandy pits to hunt for creatures instead of heading to a body of water.

On top of all of this, you’ll need to manage your health and energy while also ensuring that you’re getting plenty of rest by heading to bed at a decent time. Continuing the somewhat MMO-like feel of the game, you’ll level up over time too, improving your health and attack as you go to ensure you’re able to survive out in this quirky, arid world.

The Spar ring in My Time at Sandrock
Click to enlarge

If you fancy duking it out with the other residents of Sandrock, you can hop into the ring and challenge them to a spar, where you’ll utilise all of the standard weapon types seen in RPGs, from daggers to a spear, or sword and shield.

The town’s residents will all be at slightly different levels, though, meaning if you’ve previously lost to someone who you didn’t realise was much higher than you (like I did when opting to spar against Elsie), coming back to fight them at a later stage can be a satisfying showdown.

One of the town’s most memorable characters for me, Pen - who’s dressed like a superhero cosplayer - will teach you the ropes on how to fight pretty early into your adventure, affectionately referring to you as ‘skinny arms’ for more of that My Time at Sandrock charm.

Home is where the heart is

My Time at Sandrock workshop
Click to enlarge

If you’re a frequenter of other cosy games like I am (I’m looking at you, Disney Dreamlight Valley) you’ll instantly feel at home here upon arriving in Sandrock - but it has its own unique bells and whistles to show off (with the setting being the main draw for me as someone who loves games like Red Dead Redemption and Wild West movies) to keep it feeling somewhat fresh.

One of my favourite things to do in cosy games is to customise my space, and I’m happy to say that you can do this in Sandrock by expanding your plot and building your home up (or out). You can place all manner of different decorations here to make your base your own, and as you’ll need to head back to it each night in order to sleep and rest, it’s something you’ll very likely want to do.

After all, who wants to sleep in a room with just a bed in it and nothing else?

The Verdict

My Time at Sandrock is a game that you’ll have no trouble getting into if you’re a fan of the genre. If you’re new to cosy games on the whole, though, it’s also one that is easy to pick up and play - making it a great entry-level title for those checking out something slower in the colder months and dark nights.

If you’ve played My Time at Portia, you’ll know what to expect, and it certainly doesn’t completely reinvent the wheel from its spiritual predecessor. Still, there’s enough here to make Sandrock a game to add to your cosy game roster - especially as the Winter nights draw near.


Reviewed on PlayStation 5. Code provided by the publisher.

For more recent reviews, be sure to check out what we thought of the climbing adventure, Jusant, or Insomniac's web-slinging sequel, Marvel's Spider-Man 2.

Ava Thompson-Powell
About the author
Ava Thompson-Powell
Ava is GGRecon's Evergreen Editor. With a BA (Hons) in Media & Communications, she was previously the Evergreen Editor for Dexerto. When not in the land of evergreens, she's playing her favourite games, including Dead by Daylight, The Sims, Second Life, and Red Dead Online. Oh yeah, and she's a huge Taylor Swift fan.