Very rarely do you find a game that delivers exactly what the title promises, Many titles are not inherently misleading, but don’t do a good job of really selling what the experience before you is going to be. This can be slightly frustrating, as often the only way to know what a game has to offer is to commit to buying it first. Thankfully, fantastic reviewers (such as myself) help the wary purchaser get a better idea of what they’re going to get before they have to shovel out the dough to try it.
Potion Craft is the rare case of a game that does exactly what the title says it does. In fact, I would go so far as to say the title undersells it a bit, with a lot of depth hidden behind the otherwise simple premise.
This was a pleasant surprise because I was sold on Potion Craft based on the title alone.
In Potion Craft, you run a little potion store where you practice alchemy for a profit. A variety of customers will come to you with their own needs and will attempt to haggle with you over healing potions, poisons, or other self-made remedies. The ability to haggle with customers is something i especially enjoyed, as it added an extra bit of depth to running my own store.
The amount of customers you service is surprisingly varied, and offer a sort of entertainment on their own. It might not have been intentional, but I swear a certain customer I encountered was a tribute to Vesemir from the Witcher franchise.
The game is set in a medieval setting, meaning that all of the customers you meet are peasants, lords, knights, and ladies. One can imagine the healing potions you make to be fantastical or borderline magic, but it’s just as easy to think of them as simple medical science practiced in a less learned time, That’s sort of the beauty of Potion Craft; You’ll find yourself subconsciously roleplaying and making up your own story for the world around you as you play.
The gameplay is simple to execute with a layer of complexity beneath it. You create potions by mashing, mixing, and boiling different ingredients, with the potions you make based on the combination of ingredients used.
The process of making a potion is simple but incredibly satisfying. Mashing your ingredients in your mortar is my personal favorite; Each type of material has a different effect when mashed, like rocks being crushed and plants mashing and sounds to go with it. Your pestle is stained with the color of whatever you last mashed, which is a totally unnecessary but satisfying feature.
At the start of the game, all you know how to make is a simple health potion. You process and unlock new recipes by making more potions. This is done with a sort of ‘map’ in your lab, which your icon navigates when you mash, mix, and boil ingredients. Depending on which ingredients you mash up, you’ll move in different directions; Left, Right, Up or Down.
The map is also filled with traps and hazards, making careful navigation key and adding a little bit of tension in the otherwise relaxing game. It’s a weird progression feature, and the fog over the map means you never really know what you’re going to unlock next, even after multiple playthroughs. While not my favorite feature in the game it can’t be said that it isn’t a fresh idea, and it rewards you for cooking up potions you might not get to sell.
The art direction in the game is one of the strongest tools it has for immersing you in the role of a medieval alchemist. The game looks like a medieval drawing you might see in an ancient, crumbling book, and when paired with the music it does a fantastic job of building the game’s atmosphere.
The game also introduces a farming mechanic, which I definitely think more games need. You have a garden in addition to your potion shop, and each day it has a chance of growing ingredients you can then use to create potions. While not a very deep mechanic, it’s nice to take plants out of the ground yourself and mash them up in your mortar.
The best ingredients are always bought at merchants, however, and they go for a premium. It’s important to run your shop successfully or else you run the risk of missing out on limited-time ingredients and the special potions they can make.
The game is a great little time waster and relaxer, and it runs incredibly cheap too. While not super long and a little repetitive once you get the hang of things, it really was made to do one thing; Simulate a deep, satisfying alchemy system, something players of games like Skyrim have wanted for a long time.
The Final Word
Potion Craft is the best alchemy game on the market. If you’re a fan of alchemy in games like Skyrim but wish there was more to it, you might find that there’s no better way to kill an hour or two than by opening up Potion Craft and running your quaint little shop.
Our Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulation review was written based on the PC version of the game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website!