Just when you think 2023 couldn’t deliver any more top-quality video games, a game like Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator drops out of nowhere. Released on Xbox and PC late last year, it is now the turn of Nintendo Switch to receive its very own version and I have to say it’s definitely been worth the extra wait.
You take on the role of an alchemist who happens upon an abandoned alchemy studio. A quick spruce up of the place and you’re ready to go, serving the area’s many inhabitants, some with interesting stories to tell, others merely after a specific concoction and willing to pay good coin to get it.
Every day will see you awaken, your garden rich with new herbs, mushrooms and other mysterious-looking wildlife ready to pluck and add to your inventory. Passing merchants will even offer you chances to pick up some rarer ingredients from time to time too. From there you’ll need to deal with a line-up of customers looking for potions that may heal their wounds, put out a fire or assist in more nefarious ways. This then falls to you to mix together bottles of elixir that meet their needs.
The actual process of mixing potions together isn’t merely a case of tossing ingredients into the cauldron and hoping for the best though, instead think of it more as a puzzle of sorts. Let me explain. When crafting a potion, you’ll see a map filled with experience-granting boosts, potion-stopping skulls and new potion types. Every ingredient has a pre-determined path it will take on the map with your goal being to use the right combinations to direct yourself through the bad obstacles and ultimately wind up on a new potion recipe. Mashing up ingredients in your pestle and mortar can extend the length of an ingredient’s route while adding water will rewind your bottle’s movement perhaps to a more beneficial position. It’s an unexpected mechanic and one I found myself truly enjoying, managing my ingredients whilst exploring further along the map in hopes of yielding a new potion. Once you’ve nabbed yourself a new recipe, you’re able to add it to your recipe book thus removing the need to repeat this process over and over.
The more customers you successfully serve the more cash you’ll rake in along with giving yourself a reputation boost unlocking extra perks and more ingredients. It’s a loop that day to day kept me coming back eager to see what my next potion’s effect might be or how much money I might bring in. A dense list of tasks and goals meanwhile offered a satisfying sense of progression along my journey to being a master alchemist, checking off boxes fast and easy to begin before things started to slow as the challenges grew in complexity.
There’s a very chilled vibe to everything about Potion Craft though, thanks to the game’s lack of any time limits, real punishments and really granting the player the opportunity to do as they please whether that’s simply crafting the most basic of potions and earning yourself some coins here and there, or working your through its long list of tasks and levelling up through experience. Perhaps the game’s most active mechanic is used for haggling, players required to stop a moving target multiple times to sweet talk their way to some extra coin. Even if you fail through the art of chatter though, the penalty isn’t exactly severe, merely a blown chance at raising your price.
Rather than opting for a full 3D presentation (like so many other simulators out there), Potion Craft instead takes on the look of older European manuscripts and paintings complete with an aged paper background. Quite simply, it’s striking and gives the game a unique look and relaxing vibe, the gentle folk tunes only serving to immerse you further into its world.
Dropping on the Nintendo eShop seemingly out of nowhere, Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator is a delightfully pleasant surprise, packed with charm and whose balance between friendly customer haggling and experimental potion mixing craft a truly relaxing way to close out an already excellent year on Nintendo Switch.
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
Review copy provided by tinyBuild