Potion Craft, we tried an alchemical adventure with a unique style

Potion Craft, we tried an alchemical adventure with a unique style

Potion Craft

In a time far from ours, when the most unthinkable creatures inhabited the terrestrial valleys and plowed the wide seas, a character with a mysterious past decided to open an alchemical shop on the edge of a small village. Initially it was little more than a ruin, but with time and effort, she managed to make his intuition bear fruit. Day and night, he pounded ingredients and threw them into his cauldron. He stirred vigorously, until his bizarre concoctions exploded in a controlled cloud of smoke, ready to be sold to a variety of customers. Between deserving intentions and shady deals, his reputation grew more and more, until he became the most sought after among alchemists. This, which could very easily be a fantastic tale, is none other than the experience proposed by Potion Craft, the first truly significant work for the independent Niceplay Games. Having become noticed on more than one occasion, even through dedicated demos, the game intends to offer a truly peculiar experience, all immersed in a highly suggestive two-dimensional way.

For the moment the title is released in early access, but it is still possible to draw the first, general conclusions about this singular adventure. So let's see what the qualities of this great little game are in our Potion Craft test.

Making Potions

Potion Craft: the classic alchemist's laboratory Being a simulator, the game aims to make the player experience all the sensations arising from the practice of alchemy on the player's skin. The focus of the title is to create potions to resell to their customers.

As complex as it may seem, the creative process is actually quite simple. In fact, behind the various tools for creation, there is the alchemical map, which allows you to see and trace a sort of path that can help the player achieve the desired effect for a given potion.

Potion Craft: the alchemical map You always start from a base (initially you only have water available) and add ingredients. These allow you to move in certain directions on the alchemical map, so you have to exploit them and dose them in the way that seems most functional to us to achieve our goal.

During the first minutes of the game the map is almost obscured, which prevents to see where the effects are. Therefore, there is also a bit of exploration within the title, which pushes not only to create potions to resell, but also to experiment and explore the map, so as to satisfy the needs of customers more quickly.

Managing an alchemical workshop

Potion Craft: very "particular" customers will come to ask for your help Moving from the laboratory to the counter (there is no physical movement, but rather a scrolling of the various " game windows), you can interact with customers, sometimes recurring, other times just passing through. Just like in a small medieval village (with fantastic colors), there is the fisherman, the witch, the adventurer, but also the thief, the murderer and so on and so forth. To underline the wide variety of dialogues and situations, rarely repeated and, more unique than rare for an independent project in early access, completely and very well localized in Italian.

Every person has a specific need that is to us to satisfy according to the potions that we have available or that we have discovered. For example, if someone intends to cross a river without getting wet, you can offer them a frost potion, a bounce potion, or maybe a levitation potion, depending on what you want or can offer at that time (with consequent price changes, due to the rarity of the infusion). In any case, the time available to us to satisfy the customer is virtually infinite, which makes the experience much more relaxing and allows you to dedicate yourself calmly and calmly to the creation, without having a timer that constantly torments us.
Of course, this does not mean that making mistakes is impossible. If too many potions are offered to the customer that do not conform to his needs, he will get exasperated and leave, causing not only our reputation as a merchant, but also the popularity of the shop to decline.

These are two fairly central characteristics experience, even if, due to the early access nature, they are not yet fully exploited.

Reputation indicates the view customers have of your business. By helping people in need you will gain a greater degree of reputation, while by promoting crime and subterfuge, your reputation will drop. As interesting as it is as a feature, the implementation of a dynamic clientele depending on reputation has not yet been implemented, but will come later.

Potion Craft: We are not the only merchants in the village Popularity serves not only to attract more audiences, but also to get better prices from other merchants. In fact, other "colleagues" will also come to visit us, each with their own peculiarities and their own history, from the "rival" alchemist, to the herbalist, until they find the miner and the mushroom-loving druid. These allow us to buy new ingredients or objects useful for our alchemical practices at prices that vary according to the day (which ends when we decide to go to bed) and our own "statistics".

The Talent Tree

Potion Craft: The Talent Tree By "statistics" we are not referring to real variables from pure RPGs, but to a series of talents that can be unlocked through a very basic level system. Basically, by creating new potions and exploring the alchemical map (on which tokens with the symbol of one or more books can be found) you get experience points, which allow you to level up and get talent points to spend, then, in the dedicated tree. Here are four branches (two associated with alchemical map exploration and two with trade) with various segments that can be unlocked sequentially through one or more points.

Leveling up isn't too complex, but it might slip your mind if we focus only on selling and not on exploring the alchemical map, an activity that leads, over time, to a substantial increase in earnings. An example is represented by the bargaining, which allows both to sell and to buy at cheaper prices, as long as you can complete the "skill" minigame wrong the fewest times. By increasing the bargaining level, our revenues will also increase.

Potion Craft: The Alchemist's Journey Journal Another way to gain experience is to complete the Alchemist's Journey objectives, a journal where your progress is recorded and that it has a subdivision into chapters (even if it is possible to complete "by mistake" objectives of chapters that have not yet been achieved). In addition to giving experience points, the completion of the various chapters also rewards with the arrival of new customers and merchants, as well as a good amount of bonuses that encourage the completion of the almanac (at the cost of wasting a few more ingredients). br>

A concentrate of gameplay

Potion Craft: the alchemical machine allows you to create legendary materials The dry and effective gameplay of Potion Craft is enough to demonstrate a level of attention that should not be underestimated, given that it turns out to be more satisfying to mix and crush herbs than to move some of today's characters within boundless game worlds.

The feedback of the commands is truly calibrated to the millimeter, so much so that, despite being absent any type of vibration or sensory trick given by the most advanced controllers, the difference is strongly perceived in stepping on a grass, a mushroom or a mineral. The merit must also be attributed to the sound sector, truly varied and credible, something that is not always obvious to find in such small videogame productions.

Potion Craft: the bedroom, where it is possible to end the day There is to say, however, that it is not one of those games that steal an entire day from you without you noticing. Or, rather, it can happen, but surely the creation system starts to tire a bit, after several consecutive hours of play. However, it should be emphasized that, despite the repetitiveness of the actions, the desire to take back the title and have a short game is still quite present. And perhaps, here, the "fault" lies with the very high degree of customization, which allows you to create your own business as you see fit.

A truly customizable experience

Potion Craft: it is you can manage your products the way you prefer For all lovers of customizing their gaming experience, Potion Craft offers a truly surprising level of freedom and rarely equaled. The fact that there is no alter ego to create is already an extra push towards identification with what you are doing. We are really at the center of the action; there is no other entity to intercede between us and the non-player characters. This makes the activity feel even more intimate and linked to our sensations. This sense of protagonism is accentuated by the game itself, which enhances the player's creativity by offering an (almost) total customization of its products. Indeed, it is possible to choose the container of the potion, the label, the symbol on it and the colors of the latter.

Furthermore, if we are satisfied with the alchemical process that led to the creation of the concoction or, maybe, we do not want to carry out the whole procedure again to create another identical potion, it is possible to save the recipe in your cookbook, which allows you to recreate it quickly, even without being in the laboratory room. This has a limited number of pages, which can, however, be expanded by buying new ones from the merchants who sell them. In addition to the fact that you can move the bookmarks of the pages in the way you prefer (by overlapping them, spacing them and scattering them around the perimeter of the cookbook), you can even rename and add a description to the saved recipe, which, ultimately, is not needed. nothing but to enhance the immersion within the game world.

Potion Craft: the cookbook where you can save your creations Finally, thanks to a very convincing physics management, it is possible to move, launch or avoid the tools (at the moment, the ladle of the cauldron and the pestle of the mortar), the ingredients and the potions in total freedom. This also allows you to leave items out of the inventory and place them in different places in the shop (for example, the most popular potions can be left on the counter, so you always have them at hand, or the necessary ingredients can be placed on the table. of the laboratory and so on). In short, the management of the shop, its style and its peculiarities are left to the unquestionable choice of the player.

The strength of a cohesive artistic sector

Potion Craft: the garden where to grasp new ingredients for potions every day Perhaps it is not considered by many to be a dominant part of the gaming experience, but the art sector always has its charm. It is certainly the first thing that catches the eye of the beholder. Consequently, if the game has a good stylistic line, perhaps even quite unusual to find within the world of video games, it will certainly be able to at least make people talk about itself in the months prior to its release on the market.

Il The danger with a visually appealing and relatively small title lies in the possible focus on a single aspect rather than the totality of the project. We have seen so many cases of this kind, characterized by an amazing visual sector, but then too weak under the playful aspect. However, given that we've already gotten our teeth out of Potion Craft's actual overall quality, we can only further praise perhaps the most satisfying aspect of the title: the visual sector and its sought-after art style.

Potion Craft: a real visual jewel Taking up from the art of the Late Middle Ages and its apospective iconography, the game focuses on attention to detail, ranging from the frame that envelops the game scenario, to the delicate color palette of the elements on the screen, up to to the different colors that are imprinted in the mortar depending on the ingredient we have pounded into it. Although it is not a new style or never seen before within the videogame panorama, the quality and the care put into it surely make it a much appreciated breath of fresh air.

Potion Craft is a video game that more it may not seem an ambitious project, perhaps due to its two-dimensional nature, or due to the absence of complex combat systems, or due to its relaxed nature and far from the hyperkinetic frenzy that cloaks this particular historical period. However, to be such a refined title, with this degree of whole harmony and, moreover, developed by a team at its first, true test within the videogame market, it not only turns out to be an extremely ambitious project, but also in part already absolutely valid. Despite the early access nature, it is an extremely solid title, which encourages you to play even occasionally, without finding yourself glued to the screen for several hours in a row in front of an adventure that, in the long run, quickly begins to lose charm. And this is exactly Potion Craft: a truly fascinating experience; at the beginning of his journey, this is true, but if all beginnings were characterized by this character, we would not struggle to want to put our signature on it.


Visually stimulating Incredible attention to detail Exciting command feedback Experience customization DOUBT Too many elements not yet available for final judgment Sometimes repetitive gameplay Have you noticed any errors?

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