When I last check on my slime farm, the rock slimes had mated with my tabby cat slimes to make giant rock cats. The rock cats got so hungry they transformed into tar monsters and devoured all my chickens. It's just another day in Slime Rancher.
Slime Rancher, which launched out of early access last week, has always had a strong core concept. Players take the role of an interstellar homesteader looking to make their fortune raising various species of wiggly slimes, building up their ranch and exploring more and more of the world. Even in early access, it was a fun and relaxing game. The launch added features that round out the game into something truly special.
One of the largest hurdles Slime Rancher needed to overcome was its scale. Earlier versions of the game had a strong core loop of gathering resources, breeding slime, and harvesting crops, but there were only so many slimes and a limited map to explore. In the time leading up to launch, the game's world expanded to include a large desert zone and ancient ruins to explore.
Every zone has numerous slime types, which can be cross-bred with each other to create creatures that range from burning fire slime to reality-shifting quantum slimes. With more areas to explore and creatures to discover, Slime Rancher's world feels like a genuine planet with thriving biomes and a silly but well-established ecosystem.
There are also a lot more toys to mess around with since the last time I played. Your main tool is a vacuum gun that can suck up slimes and resources. It can be upgraded to fire water at dangerous monsters or into a jetpack to help exploration. Teleporters allow you to leap around the game world, while turrets and snares protect your ranch. There's even a basketball hoop for playing with your slimes. You can build a proper ranch now, one that truly ends up feeling like home.
Slime Rancher was already good, but these added features put it right alongside games like Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon. What started as a small, meditative game has expanded into an awesome experience full of exploration and discovery. It's also just really damn cute. After all, who doesn't love playing with friendly slime pals?