I love shop sims. I don’t know why but I just really adore them for a lot of reasons. I get to min-max profits while dealing with customers. I can haggle, which is a skill I don’t have IRL. I can also upgrade my shop and potentially create my own wares to then sell them for a lot more than I initially invested… And well,… It’s somehow that idea of a merchant that is selling potions and other wares to adventurers that feels the most fulfilling to me in any fantasy setting. I really love the idea of exploring the economical side of things in RPGs, which is partially why I love Potion Craft so much!
Developer: niceplay games Publisher: tinyBuild Genre: Medieval, Casual, Shopkeeping, Sandbox, Alchemy, Simulation Release Date: September 21st, 2021 Reviewed on: PC Available on: PC Copy was provided by the publisher.
Potion Craft, whose demo we covered a while ago, is a game where you step into the role of an aspiring alchemist who had to leave their hometown and who stumbles upon an abandoned cottage that probably was inhabited by a wizard a long time ago. You decide on opening up a Potion Shop in this location, which means that now’s the time for you to start your journey down The Alchemist’s Path. learn the secrets of potion-making, and forge your own destiny to become the alchemist that this town needs!
The game features a medieval potion shop where you not only harvest ingredients but also experiment with recipes, unlock new talents and meet your fellow townsfolk. Every day, you can gather mushrooms, herbs and crystals in your garden to stock up on materials for your potions. By grinding them carefully with your mortar and pestle, you can enhance their effects before you add them to your cauldron. Once you moved around the Alchemist’s Path in the form of a map and settled for a specific effect, you can brew it and sell it for lots of money! Your fellow townsfolk have a plethora of problems out there from stomach aches to fire elementals and many more scenarios, which is why you’ll need to listen carefully to their needs and prepare the perfect potion to help them out. You may even brew stronger potions for more money and haggle with the customers to earn more (or less) money based on your success.
The physical interactions with the ingredients and equipment are a lot of fun! Yes, there are times where things can get fiddly but once you’ve created a recipe that is not only resource-efficient but also potent, you can save that to your recipe book and automate the process of brewing that exact potion multiple times. I found all of these aspects extremely satisfying but I also loved the idea that you can change the name, shape and icon of these potions to further customise your potions. Heck, there’s even the possibility to add multiple effects to the same potion, which could be quite interesting as time goes on… And since the game is in Early Access, there will be many more effects, bases, ingredients, customers and more!
Now, the biggest issue with games like this one is that you eventually run out of stuff to do or you’re missing some guidance of sorts. Luckily, however, Potion Craft actually features a whole book that you can use to figure out where to go next! “The Alchemist’s Path” is divided into multiple chapters that tell you to “Create a Potion of Frost” or “Buy a page for the Recipe Book”. These provide extra goals for you as well as challenges, resulting in there always being something to do. Pair that with the rewards you get, the skill tree, the massive map(s), and the more advanced potions and you essentially have a potentially endless experience at your disposal. There’s an alchemy lab in your basement as well, btw, that you have to repair in order to mix advanced potions. Similarly, you can utilize a different base for your potion to access new maps and figure out new recipes.
While the gameplay side of things works incredibly well, I must say that the art is stunning, too! The unique visuals are inspired by medieval manuscripts and medical texts, which works really well for the game as a whole. Similarly, the medieval tunes are fitting for the game but can sadly get on your nerve once you listen to it for too long. Luckily, though, the game is rather casual, which is why you can save the game at any time and check it out at a later date again if you’re ever tired of hearing the same tunes over and over again.
Apart from the repetitive music, I found another thing a bit annoying. You have this enchanted garden that basically provides you with mushrooms and herbs from the getgo, which is great and all… But sometimes people really want you to mix certain potions but you don’t have enough of those plants. Naturally, you end up purchasing them but often you can make a loss at those vendors… Hence, I’d love to see some way of influencing what plants you get next or maybe even a way to order a lot of herbs and plants (maybe at a higher price?) so that you can guarantee the delivery of a potion. Stuff like that could be kind of cool?
But apart from that, I didn’t really find any issues with the game. Potion Craft is fairly polished and incredibly satisfying. I can highly recommend this one to anyone looking for an Alchemy/Shopkeeping Sim with an interesting art style and some satisfying sandbox-style Alchemy systems! I’m looking forward to seeing future updates on the game!