Before you start your Ranch Sim, you need to make your own character. There’s plenty of customisation such as your gender, facial features, clothes and even age. I made sure my character looked as ridiculous as possible. That’s just how I play but there’s enough options to create a lookalike of yourself.
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You start the game by spawning onto the middle of the road. You find a ranch close by, where you find a letter from your grandfather. Turns out he has entrusted you with the place.
Speak Up, Sonny!
However you’ll notice there’s no voice acting when reading the letter. Or any game music for that matter. I recommend listening to your own music while playing, as gameplay with no soundtrack is quite jarring.
Actually they did include a radio that plays music in one room for some reason. You can buy one for your vehicle too. Why didn’t they just have this as the background music for the game instead of restricting it like that?
Sound effects work for the most part but are sometimes absent. Like when I drove my vehicle over a ramp, only to have it land in complete silence on the road.
She’s A Looker!
This game looks like it was made in a similar style to 2004 title Garry’s Mod. There’s a day and night cycle and after an hour of playing the weather changed from sunny to rainy. This helps makes the world feel more authentic.
However there’s no animations when interacting with your environment, you teleport into your vehicle and objects disappear when you demolish them. I found the odd deer prancing through the forest that looked good graphically until I drove into one. It stopped me like a brick wall.
What In Tarnation!?
The game is quite accessible for the most part. It shows a coloured checklist of chores you need to do to build your ranch and marks locations on the map of where you need to go. It highlights the areas in green it wants you to place an object on. Though it requires you be almost pixel perfect with the mouse when using it for any kind of interaction.
You get money for completing objectives which you spend in shops. On the map there’s a few shops to travel to, though one was empty (this’ll probably change in a future update). These let you buy/sell animals and tools, which you transport in the back of your vehicle. Let’s just say how you handle the animals won’t make PETA very happy.
Oddly anything you put in the back of your vehicle will stay perfectly still. Even when they’re not secured (except meat that is). Even with the back hatch up the meat still slides through the door. Guess there’s no point in hunting deer if I can’t sell my venison in the shop.
Unfortunately there are some game breaking glitches. When I built a chicken coop close to me, my legs had merged with it! My only way out was a reboot. Luckily I am a paranoid game saver, which you do in a tent outside the ranch.
There’s A Snake In My Boot!
Gameplay becomes more tedious the longer you play Ranch Simulator. For e.g. when I got back to my farm I had to dismantle every inch of my old farm house to build on top of the land. You have to do this in a very specific order from top to bottom. Even then you need to fiddle about before the game realises the part you’re looking at can be demolished.
I completed the objectives in around 2 hours. Afterwards the game told me to figure out the rest myself. The problem is there’s not much to do aside buy pigs, cows and build a barn.
The developers Toxic Dog say: “We estimate that Ranch Simulator will be in Early Access between 8-12 months. This depends on the support from our community.”
“The full version will have more animals to tend to, further expansions to your ranch and a bigger range of vehicles available. During Early Access the map, optimisation and level of polish will evolve.”