Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator Review: Medieval Maladies Mended With Magical Mixtures (PC)

A cauldron, a mortar and pestle, and a dream. Potion Craft drops you into the shoes of an alchemist, letting you mix ingredients and haggle with customers. With a medieval pastiche, Potion Craft offers a lot of fun for those who like to get their hands dirty, but does it have that that special ingredient that makes it stand out?

Potion Craft Review (PC)
I have to get this out of the way right up front: Potion Craft is a perfectly functional game, but I got it after getting my hands on Potionomics first. Everything that Potion Craft could’ve boasted about, everything that could’ve captured me, I’d already seen brighter and more vibrant with Potionomics. But that doesn’t mean Potion Craft has nothing to offer. It just means… it’s probably not the best game at what it’s trying to do.

Like PotionomicsPotion Craft is a shopkeeper sim. You gather ingredients, craft potions, and haggle with customers. The big difference here is in the execution, and that matters far more than I thought it would. From the visuals to the music to the gameplay, the game is perfectly satisfactory, but it feels like it’s struggling for more. More meaning. More story. More motivation. More charm. There’s something good in here, but it might need to brew a little while longer.

Potion Craft is available on Steam, Epic, and GOG for $14.99, and Xbox One / Series X/S for $19.99

Potion Craft 1.0 is available NOW!

Story – The Missing Ingredient

How do I put this gently? The story for Potion Craft is, well, almost nonexistent. After a beautifully animated intro and a few pages of text explaining that you are an alchemist, you’re more or less left to your own devices. Progression through the chapters doesn’t happen by hitting a point on the timeline, but by checking off goals in your journal. And those requirements are available for all chapters straight from the beginning.

This means that you might technically be in chapter two, but have already completed all the checkpoints for chapter four. Until you’ve found that one elusive potion you need to brew for chapter two, though, you can’t progress. This leads to some jumping around in your daily tasks with little sense of direction. If you’re okay with a laid back game that just lets you play around, this is okay. But if you need to feel invested, to even know the name of your character, you’re not going to find it here.

You're an alchemist. That's pretty much the long and short of it.

You’re an alchemist. That’s pretty much the long and short of it.

Gameplay – Mix, Match, and Meander Across the Map

Potion Craft may not pack much in story, but its gameplay is solid. Like Potionomics, your aim is to gather ingredients, mix potions, and haggle with customers. The difference here is the hands-on approach Potion Craft takes.

Potion Brewing – The Tools

After harvesting your ingredients, it’s time to head to the cauldron. The game provides a satisfying feeling when you grab the ingredients, move the mortar and pestle to grind them up, stir the cauldron with your mouse, and otherwise interact with every instrument on your screen. And if that last potion didn’t come out quite right, it’s rather satisfying to hurl your tool across the screen.

Potion Brewing – The Map

As fun as the mixing is, it’s really just the steering wheel for the main event: the potion map. You start in the center of a fogged map and every ingredient you have lays out a path for your potion bottle to follow. Some are straight, some corkscrew around, and many zig-zag. By mashing, mixing, and diluting your ingredients, you can alter their range and correct for weird shapes, collecting XP along the way while avoiding barriers that destroy your potion. Find your desired potion type and settle your bottle ever so gently into frame. The neater it fits, the higher the quality.

The entire endeavor is a puzzle to solve. Which ingredients will get you where you need to go? Should you jump in that portal? It’s great to just zone out and look over your options sometimes, but it can get repetitive or, worse, frustrating, if you don’t know where the potion you need is located on the map.

The potion map is probably the most interesting part of the game.

The potion map is probably the most interesting part of the game.

Haggling

It almost feels like a waste to mention the haggling part of the game. In Potionomics it was such an integral part of the gameplay, but in Potion Craft it’s almost an afterthought. Choose a difficulty setting and an arrow moves back and forth across a bar. Stop it on the right spots to increase the deal in your favor. Mistakes add up in your client’s favor. And that’s about it. It’s functional, but underwhelming.

In the end, the gameplay is the strongest element for Potion Craft, but without anything to guide it, it can get monotonous. It often felt to me like a game mechanic in search of a game. Think less Potionomics and more… Cooking Mama. Alchemist Mama?

The haggling is simple, but still challenging if you try for the higher difficulties.

The haggling is simple, but still challenging if you try for the higher difficulties.

Audio and Graphics – Charming but Monotonous

The graphics in Potion Craft are probably where it stands out the most. Everything looks like it’s out of an ancient book, with this parchment texture and simple character design. It’s really cool to see at first and sets the cozy, laid back tone for the game, but after a while… I … I just really get tired of beige.

Along with the serviceable graphics comes serviceable music. It fits, it’s pleasant to listen to, but again, it’s part of a very chill, very laid back game. If there was more than one song, I honestly can’t recall it. All that I remember is something that vaguely evoked the feelings of Greensleeves.

Understand, there’s nothing wrong with any of this, in fact it’s quite nice if you’re looking to zone out for a bit. But much like the story, if you’re looking for something deeper or motivating, it’s not here. There’s no change to increase drama, no change to relax, no change to announce an important event. Just a chill, tavern background suitable for a D&D session.

Potion Craft was reviewed on PC with key provided by TinyBuild.

Summary
There's nothing wrong with Potion Craft. It's fun, it's chill, but it leaves me feeling like it's missing something. It feels less like a full game and more like a mechanic in search of a game. I can imagine a different game that incorporates Potion Craft as a part of it, maybe something like The Witcher with this game as an optional way to craft and sell potions. But without a story and with such monotonous graphics and music, it's hard to think of this as much more than a short diversion. If you're okay with that, there's definitely fun to be had. But if you're looking for more, well, this might be the wrong brew for you.
Good
  • Making potions is fun
  • Handling the tools is satisfying
  • Aesthetics are unique
Bad
  • The game gets monotonous quickly
  • It can be difficult to know where to go on the map
  • Haggling feels like an afterthought
6.5
Fair

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