“You really shouldn’t drink potions if you don’t know what they do.” – Michelle M. Pillow
Potion Craft is a detailed alchemy simulator in which players can physically interact with their tools and control all aspects of the process, from creating recipes to brewing the potions and even running a shop in which to sell them!
Developer: Niceplay Games
Released: 13th December 2022
Price: £11.39 – £16.74
This game is being reviewed as part of the Indie Game Collective (IGC) showcase.
Potion Craft takes place in a house which has a garden, a bedroom, an alchemy room, a shop and a basement. It features a comprehensive tutorial that covers the basics of the game including harvesting ingredients from the garden, discovering recipes, brewing potions and using tools such as the pestle and mortar. There are also helpful tips and a clear, informative UI and a chapter-based quest log to assist progress. While things do get rather complex later in the game, the pace remains casual with relatively unpunishing mechanics and no timers.
A typical day in Potion Craft will begin with the player waking in the bedroom followed by a visit to the garden to see what plants have grown and harvest resources. After this, they might open the shop where customers will arrive with specific potion requests and travelling merchants will visit with different resources to sell.
Potions are created in the alchemy room in which a lot of the gameplay will take place. Here players will find the alchemy map. Each ingredient follows a certain path on the map when used and the right combination of ingredients can create a path to a potion effect, heating a potion while on an effect will add that effect to the potion. More than one effect can be added to a potion and how accurately the path reaches the effect will determine the tier of effect added (I, II or III). Once created, a potion’s appearance can also be customised with options for bottle shapes, label types, symbols and colours. Recipes can be saved in a recipe book, which has limited pages but more can be bought from one of the travelling merchants.
There are obstacles to avoid when traversing the map as well as randomly placed books of different grades that when travelled through will grant XP. Levelling up grants points that can be spent on things such as increasing the radius of visibility on the map, improving trading prices and more. The player must also manage the shop’s reputation and popularity by choosing carefully who to sell to, not haggling too much and creating quality versions of the potions that people ask for.
Potion craft has a good level of detail and there is a lot to do with its vast map and increasingly complex alchemy processes. Things get very complex in the later stages of the game, such as when exploring the outer sections of the map or when the alchemy machine in the basement is repaired. This can be used to convert a selection of tier III potions into brand-new reagents.
The game begins with the player finding an abandoned house and setting up a potion shop. There is not a huge amount of narrative besides the one the player creates for themselves through the ways they choose to run the business. However, there are some fun story elements provided through the returning merchants and visiting clientele who will often explain in some detail why they need a certain potion.
Potion Craft is beautifully stylised to look like an etching or woodcut print with solid black lines atop a sepia background with pops of colour to bring things to life and add some contrast. The medieval-sounding music features lutes, harpsichords and the like and fits with the visuals and gameplay. The overall aesthetic is pleasingly coherent, with all the elements matching well together to create audio and visual interest and set the scene for the experience as a whole.
Potion Craft is a fantastically intricate and uniquely stylised alchemy sim that has a lot to offer. Each aspect of the potion-making and selling process is entertaining in its own right, whether it’s gathering herbs, exploring the map, trialling new recipes or chatting with the customers, there is a good level of detail and interaction throughout. Overall, the casual feel of the gameplay belies the level of involvement and detail making for a really fun experience that is easy to get lost in.
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