It’s Day 22 of our Halloween Game Reviews, and I can smell something brewing in the office. For those gamers who consider themselves the greatest alchemists of all time, you are going to love Potion Craft. This alchemist simulator gives you the opportunity to really grind the grind, with a satisfying *BUMPF* when the perfect potion is achieved. Take your Halloween to the next level and learn a little wise woman magick yourself.
What Is Potion Craft?
It’s a smooth blend of crafting and simulator, with a dash of theatrics and a touch of bardic storytelling. Potion Craft takes the best of all worlds and creates a new game that feels fresh. This is a sandbox game with multiple paths to discover and plenty of replays available.
Let’s start with the RPG elements. You are a humble yet aspiring alchemist who has left home in search of a new place to stay and make your own. You have discovered an abandoned cottage, still partly furnished by whoever lived here before—perhaps a wizard, based on the niche supplies. It’s perfect! Everything you need to make your own potions and set up shop. Time to start brewing!
Method to the Madness
I was totally surprised by how meditative this game can be while still giving me enough of a challenge to push my boundaries. It is seriously that good. The gameplay is based on common crafting styles: here’s your inventory, find the right ingredients, mix together, bottle it. Seems simple enough and on its own would create a game easy to play but easy to tire of too.
Potion Craft adds an element of creativity and involvement to take this game in a whole other direction. Yes, you are collecting ingredients, either through your enchanted garden outside or purchases from traveling vendors. And yes, you can mix them in your cauldron to brew. However, you are only given one recipe to begin with: the best-selling Healing Potion. From that point, every herb/plant/flower/crystal/random sock you receive comes with the barest of information cards. You have to figure this out yourself.
This particular mechanic to the game is truly fascinating. Your brewing recipes are displayed like a map. Click and hold on to a plant to show the path it would take on the map. You can decide whether to throw it in the cauldron or blend it with the mortar and pestle to move it twice as fast across the map. The goal is to move your potion towards one of the mapped flasks to achieve a successful concoction. Each concoction is revealed after a successful brew. Each plant moves in a different direction, and you will need to explore the entire map to find all the potential brews to sell in your store. However, you will need to avoid those “danger zones” or your potion will fail. It really is a very clever idea for making a crafting game feel a little more adventurous and a little less haphazard.
I Have Wares, If You Have Coin
Your dream is to run a successful potion store, and for that, you will need to build a steady flow of customers. Each day, people from the surrounding area visit your store, asking for potions to meet their needs. Maybe it’s a healing potion for that stubbed toe. Maybe it’s a poisonous brew to kill off some vines. As you progress around your map, you will find lots of different mixtures to meet their demand. It will also encourage some of your own experimentation after hours.
Here is where Potion Craft brings in another twist to liven up your game. More often than not, a customer asks for a potion you are yet to discover. With enough ingredients from your garden or pantry, you can find your way around the map and figure out the right blend. You can choose to sell for the exact price… or you could haggle. Now, I’ll be honest—I’m about as good at haggling in this game as I am in real life. The trick is to be quick about it. Time is indeed money.
Of course, there is the chance you may not have the right potion in stock and, unfortunately, the potential customer goes away unhappy. This also counts towards the success of your business. Having a super successful day will increase your customers tomorrow, but that can also lead to a glut in your supplies. I think there may be a bit of strategy to choosing exactly who to sell to and who may be worth the risk of turning away. Not sure about it but I’m enjoying the game enough to test my theory.
Illustrated Like a Medieval Book
One of the key elements has to be the overall look of the game. Potion Craft is filled with art that looks like it is pulled straight from a “ye olde book.” It is simply 2D graphics with an almost puppetry-like animation. It provides a beautiful yet simple canvas as you slowly build your potion shop.
However, the animation is something else. Each ingredient needs to be added and treated individually. Grab it with your “hand” and throw it in the cauldron. Or grind it up with the mortar and pestle, watching it change shape and texture while staining the bowl. Crumbs and petals fly around, hot embers spark and glow. It makes the entire process very tactile. You are as much a part of the process as the ingredients themselves. It’s what moves Potion Craft out of the general crafting game label and into a sort of adventure game as well. And to be fair, that’s what I keep coming back for.
Potion Craft is currently available in Steam Early Access. Evil Genius Mum received a free review code for the purpose of this review; no further compensation was received. Stay tuned for future updates.
Score: 4 out of 5 fancy glass bottles