Steam Gaming: Alchemist Simulator
Posted on January 17, 2023 by Aywren
Over the weekend, I was introduced to Fanatical bundles which, with my yearly goals being what they are, I really shouldn’t have partaken of. But I did. It just so happened there were a few games in the bundles that I wanted, so I picked up two of them. Of course, when you buy a bundle of this sort, you get to choose up to at least three games – so I had to make a few choices.
I'd actually mistaken this Alchemist Simulator for a different one – Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator – and I was a little grouchy to find out that I had not picked up the game I thought I had when I sat down to install it. I guess I should have looked more closely.
It’s okay, though. Potion Craft is on Game Pass right now anyhow.
What I ended up with wasn’t a terrible game, but certainly not worth the full price of the game. I finished all of the orders in about 4.4 hours, and got all but 2 of the achievements. I’m not much of an achievement chaser, so I don’t see myself going back to get those two despite the fact I know what I need to do to get them.
You take up your grandfather’s alchemy shop while he’s off touring the world. All you have to guide you is an almanac and a snarky rat assistant (I do love that rats are a theme in this game).
You receive orders for potions each day – which feels a bit like working through questlines sometimes. Some of the orders create ongoing stories from return clients. There’s even a couple of times you get to choose between which client to assist in small branching stories. The writing isn’t mind-blowing, but is serviceable, with some humor and pop culture references sprinkled in that I could appreciate.
However, by the time you get near the end of the game, orders trickle down to one a day from the monster hunter’s guild until you simply run out of them. Your rat assistant then tells you there’s no more work to do – especially since you’ve already maxed out your alchemist rank, purchased all the upgrades and have more money than you’ll ever need to run the shop at that point.
You can choose to keep playing if you want, but I didn’t see a lot of point in it since the bits of stories and the contracts were all that really held the game together.
Sadly, it felt like there were a lot of good ideas here – ranking up, upgrading your shop, and even sometimes adding rewards from clients to decorate the shop – but it never fleshed out into a solid and more complex game. I rarely ask for game complexity, but this is one game I wish had been.
When it comes to the actual gameplay loop, the lab and the tools there are the only physical locations/items in the game. The graphics were pretty cute and serviceable for what the game was. But you couldn’t really interact with the tools in any meaningful way – such as no stirring the cauldron.
I’d lump this game into more of a “puzzle” game than a simulator because this is really all about figuring out how to process which ingredient in what ways in order to create the specific elemental aspect needed to brew each potion. This took a little bit of trial and error at first for me – I even had to restart a day a few times due to flubs – but once I memorized what ingredient to use for what, I was just flying through many potions per day.
It's something that seems more complex at first than it really is. In fact, I don’t think I learned any potion that had more than 3 aspects to make, despite the fact the cauldron allowed up to 7. It makes me feel like the devs had something larger in mind that just never came to fruition.
Again, not saying this is a terrible game. I mean, I did complete it and put 4 hours into playing it. There’s something satisfying about getting into the groove once you know what ingredients to use to make what. I could easily figure out a shopping list for a multi-potion contract and usually get everything done the same day.
The one annoying aspect of the game is the day and night cycle. Similar to something like a farming sim game, the clock is ticking unless the game is paused. Once it hits midnight, you’re forced to “sleep” – you’re actually just forced-teleported to the top of the stairway next to a door that is apparently your bedroom.
I discovered that if you had a potion brewing in the cauldron when midnight comes, your potion would complete and be there the next day. But if you were processing ingredients using any of the tools, all of those ingredients would vanish. I don’t know if that’s a bug, but it was frustrating to have to go and re-buy my ingredients and re-process them all simply because of the in-game clock rolling over to the next day.
The other annoying thing was though you had tons of shelves to use – and you even paid to upgrade them – you couldn’t store processed ingredients on them to use for later. So, if you ended up with an aspect you didn’t want by accident, all you could do was dispose of it and start over. Seems like a waste.
Anyhow, it’s a game with a good core idea. It just could have been a lot more.
But, hey, I got my flaming goose head trophy, and that’s what counts.