I have been burned by enough early access titles on Steam enough times to know to stay clear of such things. It's a very risky prospect buying into a product that isn't finished simply based on the promise that it will at some point be finished. More often than not, for whatever reason, production stops. Sometimes it's because the developers are smarmy bastards who really seemed to be planning it from the start and other times it's just because the company was poorly managed and its no longer possible. When production doesn't stop entirely it slows down to a snail's crawl. But luckily, Slime Rancher doesn't seem to be one of those games.
Since I bought Slime Rancher nearly a year ago, developer Monomi Park has been doing a decent job of both keeping fans in the loop regarding production and also adding content to their game at a fair rate. And even if they never updated it again (which would be smarmy) it'd be a game worth owning.
The premise is simple, in this first person adventure, ranch simulation game, you take the role of Beatrix LeBeau, a young rancher who leaves earth to try her hand at making a living on the 'Far, Far Range' by catching and raising various adorable slimes. That's it. The story doesn't really go beyond that in the game's current state.
You are handed a vacpack (vacuum gun), which you will use to suck up wild slimes, fruit, vegetables, chickens (and sometimes port), and sent to explore the wilds. From that moment on your singular goal will be to make money by and means you choose. I suppose it would be possible to play for many hours without ever "domesticating a slime" as you can collect plort from wild. but the game's intention is for you suck up slimes, walk home and spit them back out into your ranch either free range, or in corrals, where they will bounce and jiggle around waiting for you to feed them. It gets a bit more complicated than that, certain slimes require special living environments, there's one breed that disappears if exposed to the sun and another slime that can only survive in water, along with many others, but really, the game is rather simple. Raise slimes, sell plort, make money, and invest that money back into your ranch by buying new regions of your ranch and other upgrades, so many upgrades.
There's something incredibly satisfying about this formula. It's simple and really and truly, relaxing. As you explore you will find different sorts of slimes in different types of environments like, a quarry or a jungle that produce more valuable plorts. Many of these different types of slime have different attributes that make them more difficult to wrangle. Like these adorable cat slimes who will scale the sides of their enclosure and escape, like assholes.
You can even feed slimes plorts from other types of slimes to create jumo-sized hybrids that produce two plorts at once. Your slimes don't die when they get hungry, as long as you can keep them in their corral, they'll wait impatiently for you to feed them until the end of time. There aren't really any enemies in this game. Sometimes you'll find feral slimes that'll calm down if you feed them. There's really not much to worry about overall on the Far Far Range.
The only real threat to your bouncing baby slime friends come in the form of the tarr which are slimes which have eaten three types of plorts. And they they eat other slimes and bounce around menacingly. But, they can be taken down with a few shots of water. And will really never appear on your ranch if you keep your slimes apart. If you do mess up it's devastatingly sad to have the tar tear through your carefully corralled slimes and eat all 40 of them but, you can always catch more and really it should almost never happen. In a climate where games are intensely interested in urgency and tension, Slime rancher ambles and that is truly a refreshing thing to see. I think of Slime Rancher often and I am excited to see where it goes.