Slime Rancher 2 is a first-person sandbox game developed and published by Monomi Park. It has recently been released into Early Access on Steam and is a sequel to the original Slime Rancher, which was released in late 2017. Much like the original Slime Rancher, Slime Rancher 2 sees you playing once again as rancher Beatrix LeBeau in faraway colourful galaxies thousands of lightyears from earth. Set after the events of the first game, Slime Rancher 2 has Beatrix embarking on a new journey after having successfully restored the Far Far Ranch from the very first Slime Rancher game. This time, Beatrix sets sail towards a new planet known as Rainbow Island.
When it comes to charm, colour, and vibrancy, Rainbow Island lives up to its name. The world in Slime Rancher 2 is a pastel dreamscape, and the slimes that come with it – little colourful differently shaped blobs – complement the environment beautifully. Just like in the original Slime Rancher, your job is to start up a successful slime ranch from scratch, this time in an old, abandoned conservatory. Throughout a playthrough, you can slowly restore different areas of the slime ranch, each time making it more beautiful and vibrant in the process.
If you’ve never played Slime Rancher before, you’re probably wondering: what are slimes exactly, and what are slime ranches? Much like farm animals in nature, slimes are colourful creatures that can be herded and fed. They come in different colours and sizes, and mostly bounce around Rainbow Island merrily, making very cute noises in the process. Depending on the slime in question, they each have different needs, diets, and temperaments. While some slimes are omnivores, others solely rely on plant-based foods like carrots or berries, and where some slimes may be very docile and cute, others are hostile and can even attack you.
“Simply following your feet in Slime Rancher 2’s colourful realm is a delight in itself.”
In addition to this, slimes can also morph into new and different kinds of slimes if they end up eating a plort – the tiny crystal that a slime produces after it eats – that’s a different colour to their own. This means that, as a slime rancher, you can experiment endlessly with housing different kinds of slimes together to see what will happen and what kind of slimes and plorts you’ll get. While there are lots of different types of slimes and tools to keep track of, the game comes with a solid tutorial to get you up and running, and a database (nicknamed the ‘slimepedia’) to help you tell different kinds of slimes and plorts apart.
To facilitate your slime experiments, you’ll have the option of setting up dedicated enclosures for your slimes and feeding them different kinds of food. This is where farming slimes becomes interesting, since feeding slimes makes them produce ‘plorts’ which you can trade in for Newbucks, the game world’s currency. In turn, Newbucks buy plots to grow food or keep slimes, unlock new areas for your ranch featuring beautiful underground caves and grassy meadows, and upgrade your existing tools.
In this sense, a playthrough of Slime Rancher 2 mainly consists of either managing your slime ranch – collecting plorts, managing slimes, or upgrading tools, for example – or exploring the terrain surrounding the conservatory to collect new slimes. To manage life both on and off the ranch, you’ll mostly be relying on your health bar, your stamina bar, and your ‘vacpack’, a tool that allows you to vacuum up anything from slimes to resources while you wander around the landscape.
At its core, though, Slime Rancher 2 is very much a game focused on experimentation. Practically, Slime Rancher 2 follows in the footsteps of its predecessor in that the aim of the game is quite loosely defined. This doesn’t mean that Slime Rancher 2’s gameplay feels aimless; rather, it offers an in-game environment where players will be rewarded for their curiosity. The conservatory alone comes with plenty of nooks, crannies, and caves to be explored, and the different combinations of slimes and plorts feel endless, but never overwhelming.
The game’s core gameplay will feel familiar to fans of similar sandbox titles like Astroneer and Satisfactory in that the minute-to-minute gameplay feels relaxing and meditative. While overall, there’s no clear linear narrative story or aim, the colourful world of Slime Rancher 2 is easy to get lost in, thanks to the game’s stunning visuals and beautiful soundtrack. It’s clear that the Monomi Park Team have invested a lot of time and energy into depicting an immersive world. Simply following your feet in Slime Rancher 2’s colourful realm is a delight in itself.
This is an especially impressive feat when you consider that Slime Rancher 2 is currently still in Early Access. The gameplay is smooth and detailed and while, at this point, the core of the game might not stray too far away from the original Slime Rancher mechanics-wise, that’s hardly an issue. Given the success of the original game, it makes sense that Slime Rancher 2 builds on the foundation of the original Slime Rancher. The result is a beautiful new universe to explore, complete with a refined and perfected gameplay formula. And yes, this may mean that hardcore fans will find plenty of features in-game that feel very familiar, but when you consider the success of the original Slime Rancher, that’s not a bad thing at all.