Hey you! Yes, you! Do you like vacuuming? Would you like to vacuum while being so wobbly? Well buddy, do I have the game for you. Slime Rancher 2, released on Steam for early access earlier this September, has you doing all sorts of things while using your vacuum gun. Whether it be grabbing slime pets, gathering resources, using said resources for crafting and currency, all of it relies on the power of vacuuming. All the while, players slide, slimes jiggle and bounce, chickens and veggies ragdoll and the jumps go off with a bit of an ‘umph’. Above all else, movement, not only yours but the world and its inhabitants, is the defining factor of this game.
With such a need for movement, the meat is likewise trimmed. The story is mostly in bits and pieces, either from certain AI gizmos that seem to be scattered around the island or from your contacts back home relaying your situation to you. The only thing that resembles something of a narrative, is that you are Beatrix LeBeau, a slime farmer who has been invited to a mysterious place known as Rainbow Island. Wanting to take a chance on adventure, she leaves her previous ranch to settle on this new island. But there are no levels or quests to progress you through the 'story'. As such, it takes a while to adjust and figure out what one needs to do at the beginning.
However, when the gameplay clicks, it clicks. Personally, this is maybe one of the few games I’ve played this year that has allowed me to delve into a sort of relaxation while still engaging with its mechanics. I wouldn’t call it ‘wholesome’ or even put it in the ‘non-violent gaming’ category, unless sacrificing chickens is something you would consider nonviolent. If anything, think of it more as ‘no thoughts/head empty’ sort of vibe. That isn’t to say there isn’t anything to chew on.
If you’re looking for more than just vacuuming cute little balls of goo, Slime Rancher 2 also has an intricate, yet one of the more user-friendly, crafting mechanics; allowing players to set up slime pens, upgrade their vacuum, and build other neat tools like a teleporter and a water turret. That last one is going to be useful when dealing with the Tarr; one of the only two class of enemies in the game. The Tarr usually will be out at night and will try to drain the area from any resources you have. It is quite like most slime, a combination of sucking them into your vacuum and launching them into water. However, they can multiply, and often, when you get rid of one, two more have taken their place and reached mainland. A less messy yet more dangerous enemy are the feral slimes. These seem to bounce and bite at you and while you can see some before their attack, others seem to either hide or attack just behind you. However, if the Tarr and the feral slimes seem too stressful, Slime Rancher 2 does have the option of removing them altogether.
Aside from that, you also get the chance for some exploration. You’ve got your usual locked areas, containing more plots for slime pens. But there are also certain clues that you can decipher to unlock secret areas or even teleporters to other areas of the island. There are usually two ways to find these passage ways. First is your standard locked door that needs a key, in this case, certain gems that your slime drops. The second, however, is the Grodos, large slimes usually stuck in a particular spot. However, once you feed them, they expand and burst, unlocking new stuff to find.
All in all, Slime Rancher 2 shows a lot of potential as an early access release. It's simplistic in its gameplay style, but it's a simplicity that Monomi Park has used to their advantage to invoke a sense of wonder and fun for the player. And with a streamlined crafting system, as well as a handful of colorful characters, you too can explore Rainbow Island with Beatrix LeBeau and vacuum as many slimes as your pack as well as your heart can carry.
TechRaptor previewed Slime Rancher 2 on Steam with a copy provided by Monomi Park. It is also on Xbox X|S, and Epic Games Store for Early Access.