Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator is an intriguing new management simulator game set in the Middle Ages. Play as a blossoming new alchemist as you set up your potion shop in an abandoned old shack on the outskirts of a medieval town.
Collect ingredients from your garden, attract new customers, discover new potion recipes, and resolve the many ailments and quandaries faced by the townspeople. Get your name out there to improve your popularity, bring in more customers, and build your reputation as the top potions master and alchemist in the land. Make your shop thrive, and don’t go out of business!
A Game’s A-Brewing…
Created by Russian indie developers niceplay Games, who previously only released mobile games like Potionous and Wizard Swipe, it’s clear to see that the themes of magical potion brewing and alchemy were long-running ideas years before their first PC game, Potion Craft, came into fruition.
Game publisher tinyBuild, the publishing house responsible for popular titles including the Hello Neighbor and Graveyard Keeper franchises, clearly knew a good thing when they saw it, picking up Potion Craft for a demo release in February 2021. The unique alchemy shop management simulator grew in popularity on social media, launching in Early Access 7 months later.
Released in Early Access on the Steam Store on 21st September 2021, the indie crafting game has earned just shy of 1,000 positive reviews at the time of writing, with an overall rating of Very Positive.
Take Thee To The Potion Shoppe!
Potion Craft thrives mostly on a highly interactive click-and-drag style of gameplay. Unlike some management simulators that require you to click on a button and wait for the process to be done, you play an involved part of your alchemist journey every step of the way.
Pick flowers and herbs in your overgrown alchemist’s garden for your potion recipes, manually grind up your ingredients in your trusty pestle and mortar, mix your bubbling cauldron, and guide your potion vial around the map to unlock new and stronger types of concoctions.
But crafting and discovering new recipes alone is not enough! You then need to help out the townsfolk who turn up to your shop every day, either by selling them the right type of potion, or haggling with them through dialogue options. Just take care not to haggle too much, or your hard-earned reputation as the town alchemist may plummet!
Play through each day, completing challenges to unlock new chapters and new ways to upgrade your shop, the potion discovery map, and the mysterious alchemy machine tucked away in the basement…
The Good Parts of Potion Craft…
Potion Craft is definitely a game with more strengths than weaknesses. As well as the immaculate medieval-inspired artwork, we love the refreshing recipe development system of travelling across a map, dodging obstacles as you go by using different ingredients. You never have to keep remaking the same potions over and over again, as there are options to ‘Save Recipe’ in your trusty Potion Book to quickly formulate potions on the fly and avoid annoying repetition like other management sims.
The haggling minigame helps to keep the shop and selling aspect of the game really fresh, with reputation and popularity systems in place so you have something to worry about other than money. Outside of haggling, none of the interactions with villagers or merchants are timed, so gameplay stays calm and relaxed as you can go back and forth between chatting with customers and crafting new potions without any additional time pressure.
One thing we particularly like is the short tutorial level, after which you discover a lot by yourself through trial and error, really immersing yourself in the life of a new alchemist trying to find their way in the world. No info dumps here!
…and The Not-So-Good Parts
As much as we love many of the gameplay aspects of Potion Craft, there are some opportunities for improvement in Potion Craft that stick out too much to ignore.
During the initial gameplay, we and many other players noticed that the medieval-themed ambient soundtrack is quite limited. So far, it seems like there is only one song in the library! While this is a relatively small complaint, you really begin to notice after the third or fourth loop when you start to think, ‘I’ve heard this somewhere before…!’
If you’re not a fan of the click-and-drag gameplay mechanic, that’s also tough luck for you. You need to manually click on every individual herb to pick it, manually grind the pestle and mortar, manually stir the simmering cauldron, manually fan the flames with the bellows to brew your concoction… While it’s great to begin with, it can lose its novelty pretty quickly, especially if you don’t utilise that vital Potion Book to auto-brew potions from early on.
What Can We Expect From Potion Craft in the Future?
It’s second nature in an Early Access release, but unfortunately there’s still lots of gameplay tucked away behind menus and development blocks, such as beneficial shop upgrades from day one.
However, the development team at niceplay Games have been beavering away in the background, and are already teasing the latest updates they’d like to add to their brand new game release.
This will include a huge overhaul to the potion brewing and discovery system, with a fully operational Alchemy Machine in the cellar, with access to Legendary Substances and Salts, as well as unique maps and potion effects. There will also potentially be options to keep personal notes in your Recipe Book, as well as various additional requirements for potion crafting to kick the difficulty up a notch for the more hardened alchemists in the player base.
The shop will be another place facing large changes, with new ways to please customers, as well as a reputation-based, dynamically-generated queue of visitors perfect for any role-players who want to test their mettle as either a friendly healer with a heart of gold, or a shady crook in cahoots with the town’s criminal underworld.
Your gorgeous garden will also see some much-needed upgrades with planting management, which will make your morning herb collection all the easier!
Other smaller changes like new goals, upgrades, sounds, and even music have been teased, so it’s great to hear that the developers are listening to early feedback and starting to implement new changes so early into release.
“Yea or Nay” For Potion Craft?
For us, Potion Craft earns a solid “Yea!” We love the relaxing gameplay and unique crafting mechanics of the game. While we know there’s still some work to do, we’re excited to see what the future holds for this innovative new game through its Early Access journey.
Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator is available in Early Access on the Steam Store.