Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator – Review
Follow Genre: Simulator, Fantasy
Developer: niceplay games
Publisher: tinyBuild
Platform: PC, Switch, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, PS4, PS5
Tested On: PC

Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator – Review

Site Score
8.0
Good: Relaxing and fun
Bad: Repetitive on long sessions
User Score
0
(0 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)

For some reason 2020 was an oddly prolific year for potion-making games. Alongside Potion Craft, several others like Potion Permit and Potionomics came out. Each of these has its own unique take on the same concept and approaches it in a different way. Out of the three, Potion Craft is arguably the one that focuses the most on the potion-making itself, and here’s what it contains.

Story

Potion Craft doesn’t quite have a story as much as it does a setting. A new alchemist just arrived in town. The player finds a dilapidated house with some remaining equipment from the previous owner, who also happened to practice the craft. Settling in and taking advantage of the magical flower garden, the player will soon become the town’s potion vendor while pursuing the mythical philosopher’s stone.

Graphics

Drawing inspiration from medieval drawings, the game’s graphics are simplistic but charming. Constraining the player to five rooms, each features a handful of relevant setpieces all depicted with the same hand-drawn style. The main highlights in the game’s art are the store’s patrons, who vary from day to day and feature a large number of variations alongside some references to other games and mythology.

Sound

Similarly to its art style, the game also draws inspiration from medieval music for its sound design. The soundtrack wouldn’t be out of place in a medieval fair and could be classified under the blooming genre of “bardcore” (yes, that’s a thing, look it up). Other than its charming soundtrack and decent sound effects, Potion Craft doesn’t put much emphasis on its sound department, although what it contains is overall high quality.

Gameplay

Potion Craft’s gameplay is surprisingly simple. Doubling as an alchemy and shop simulator, the game tasks players with brewing potions and selling them to customers. Said customers will come into the shop with a request such as a potion to light a fire or something to coat their weapons with. Some of these requests will also include additional conditions players can fulfill to obtain more money, like adding more ingredients or making the potion better. Once the player has a potion that matches the request, they can sell it to the customer for money and reputation. On top of that, they will also be able to haggle for a better price through a timing minigame.

The bulk of the gameplay consists of the potion-making itself, which sees the player moving through a potion map. In order to choose the direction and distance, players will have to use different ingredients, each with a fixed movement direction and a distance that can be increased by grinding them. For example, a “Witch Cap” mushroom will allow players to move a short distance towards the northeast. By combining several ingredients in different orders, players will be able to reach the potion effects marked on the map, which they can then infuse into their potion.

Said effects have three tiers, which increase based on how accurately the player positions their potion on the effect outline. While each potion can have up to five effects, higher tiers also consume more of these slots, on top of certain effects not being compatible. On their way towards the effects, players will also have to be mindful of the map’s terrain, which includes hazards and special effects.

Hazards will rapidly drain the potion and reset it if players stay too long on them, while other effects like whirlpools can be activated with the bellows in order to change positions. As players delve further into the map, they’ll encounter harder paths to traverse, often requiring finicky combinations and careful stirring. In order to aid their movement, players can also add water to their potion in order to slowly move towards the map’s starting point, often being a godsend for careful maneuvering.

While the game’s lack of mechanical depth makes it an enjoyable and relaxing experience, it also tends to become repetitive after a while. Perhaps intended for short play sessions, the game is extremely manual in the brewing process, requiring each ingredient to be used or ground one at a time. Although there is a concession towards productivity by allowing players to save recipes they can automatically brew or continue from, a simple change like allowing several of the same ingredients at once would go a long way.

Another issue the game runs into is with its merchant and overall ingredient acquirement process. Each day players will be able to gather a set of ingredients from their garden. However, the amount and kind of ingredients are randomly decided, which means that some days players might be unable to brew specific potions. This also applies to the merchants, whose arrival, selection, and prices are all randomized, which hinders progress.

Later in the game, the second goal of creating the philosopher’s stone comes into play. In order to do so, players will need to purchase a better alchemical setup from a different alchemist. The alchemist’s visits are also random and their prices are rather expensive. This means that unless they account for said visits and ignore other merchants, players might take a good while to move forward. While clients are plentiful, even at a decent popularity rank earnings must be tacked for a few days to afford the rather prohibitive prices.

Conclusion

Potion Craft is a rather unique and relaxing game that chooses a theme and sticks to it to create a fun depiction of a fantasy occupation. Although slightly bogged down by repetition, the game is rather enjoyable in short bursts. Sold for €12,49/$14.99/£11.39, the game is rather cheap. With possible content to come, it’s a decent enough deal.

Personal Opinion

“I enjoy playing Potion Craft for a little while at night while watching a podcast or some videos. Despite being somewhat dry by itself, the game is fantastic for winding down and relaxing. Sure, it won’t keep you going for 5 hours at the edge of your seat, but brewing a few potions, progressing a pair of in-game days, and discovering some effects is fun enough to make you come back. While maybe I would recommend something like Potionomics over this from a pure gameplay perspective, those looking for something cozy to enjoy a bit at a time will find that here.”

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0.0/10 (0 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)

No Comments

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.