Hey Gameologists, and welcome to the Gameology News review of Potion Craft. Ever wanted to take on the role of an amateur alchemist and experiment with brewing potions? Add on haggling to trade potions, herbs, mushrooms, and minerals while running a potion shop, and you come up with something of a simulation game. Potion Craft is developed by niceplay games and published by tinyBuild. At the moment, this game is in early access, so we will bear that in mind while writing this review.
The first day is the basic tutorial, teaching how to use the cauldron, and how the mortar and pestle helps the player cross a greater distance over the map. Brew a potion upon reaching a destination on the map, sell a few potions to a varying range of people, learn how to haggle, and then sleep to save. The repetition continues. Wake up in the morning, harvest the plants in the magical garden, and then what happens next is up to the player. Discover new potions to craft by mixing ingredients to chart a course across the map, and there will be more than one to complete. The first map uses a water base, and more bases are available later in the game which gives the player a goal. Or save those resources to use for serving customers. At first, their requests are straightforward, but they gradually become more obscure. The potion they’re looking for might not be apparent, and sometimes they want a combination of effects. Take as much time as needed, these customers are incredibly patient. The player has three tries to suggest the correct potion before the customer leaves in frustration.
There are plenty of other stats to consider. The potion shop can gain or lose reputation – so much so as to drop into the negative – which is determined by the intentions of the customer’s request, and that is not always clear. Eventually, there is a certain pattern to pick up on, including appearances, for those plotting a nefarious scheme. Increase experience by picking up little books while exploring the alchemist’s map, and each level gives points that are spent on, presently, four attributes: Visibility Radius, Alchemical Practice, Trading, and Haggling.
Popularity is another important factor to consider. If the potion shop is more popular, more customers will swarm. Popularity can be gained and lost, but never goes below zero. Selling potions to a customer with not-so-good intentions does not immediately mean the loss of popularity. It’s possible to gain quite a bit from these customers. These are potentially rogues or thieves, but knights, townsfolk, and a suspiciously familiar character are also common. Haggling, or bargaining to drive up the price of a potion, can make gaining popularity difficult.
If the player is more concerned about making a higher profit, there are one of two ways to do that. One is haggling. An arrow slides back and forth. Click the button at just the right time to raise the price for a potion. Misclick, and the opposite happens. The other method is to brew a higher grade potion. Starting out all potions are weak, but they can be improved from weak, to regular, to strong potions and sell for a much higher price.
More than customers will frequent the potion shop. Traders will also come around, selling a variety of goods: herbs, mushrooms, recipes, alchemist machine parts, magical alchemy book pages, and minerals. This is where the skill for haggling becomes important. Haggling with a customer increases how much they pay, but haggling with traders decreases how much the player pays! This helps out in a pinch, especially when working toward buying the parts needed for repairing the device in the shop’s basement. Step up the game by repairing, using, and upgrading the alchemist machine. A true challenge requiring the use of resources to combine multiple effects from across the map into one potion. Use the machine to create agents like void salt. This is the only way to unlock the alchemist’s ultimate goal, the philosopher’s stone.
Potion Craft is not a game from which to expect any voice acting. This is a simple yet charming game, but not necessarily good for relaxing since mistakes can be costly and cause the player to lose resources. While the background music is a good match for the setting, that’s all there is to it while it repeats endlessly. The sound effects of the pestle grinding ingredients in the mortar is my favorite because they all sound different. One thing I do wish would be added in is a little tune that plays while stirring the cauldron to make the potion bottle scurry across the map.
I was pretty skeptical about whether I would enjoy Potion Craft or not, but it was well worth the purchase. There is already a lot going on, even if some of the customer’s requests get repeated verbatim. Not everyone will have additional dialogue, but . Some people have asked me if the game is fun. Well, it’s not thrilling like games with a lot of action, and there’s no captivating story, but the best way to describe this game is challenging. One big puzzle that the player will want to continuously unravel, and plenty of reward. I suggest striving for that sweet spot where you’re making a steady income and have plenty of resources at your disposal, with leftovers for experimenting at the end of the day. For me, the true challenge of Potion Craft is to be able to fill the alchemy book with strong potions, crafted with as few – and mostly common – resources as possible, and brew them at the click of a button.