All in a day’s brew 

The artwork is pretty, and the game has a variety of shaped bottles that can be customised for different potions and displayed on my shop front.
The game can be played on the PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. It is currently also available with the Xbox Game Pass.
The game can be played on the PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. It is currently also available with the Xbox Game Pass.

CHENNAI: Some video games have a world that is so elaborate, that they often have tiny, fully functional games within them. The progression in these mini-games as they’re called, is often independent of the bigger game. Assassins’ Creed Valhalla, for example, has Orlog — which is a puzzling one-on-one board game that I looked forward to playing in every new city I uncovered. The Witcher 3 has Gwent — which now exists as an independent strategy card game.

While it really isn’t one, “Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator” feels like a thoughtfully made mini-game. But calling it a fancy mini-game is a bit harsh because what Potion Craft does is succeed in being an excellent “cozy” game, where I play as an Alchemist who is expanding her shop.

The game works like this. I wake up, walk down to my garden, and collect the herbs that have grown overnight. I open up my shop for business, and a few customers immediately come streaming in. They have their own pitiable and sometimes outright devious problems, and the Alchemist is here to help them — for a small fee of course. Concocting a potion involves solving a small puzzle. The lab has a map, that tracks the progress of the potion that is being brewed. Adding the right ingredients move the tiny beaker across the map, till it reaches the required end. Potions can be saved in the recipe book, and new potions can be invented by mixing new ingredients to discover new effects.

Brewing incurs a cost and as an alchemist with a tiny lab, I do not have an endless source of ingredients. I soon realise that I must reserve my best brews for the highest-paying customers. But some of them are evil. Some of them want potions that make them better at pickpocketing, some of them are eager to buy poisons for an unstated reason. And if I deny them my exquisite potions, it harms my credibility as an alchemist of skill. And so the game proceeds, day after day, waking up in my tiny lab, collecting herbs and brewing sometimes good, and sometimes questionable liquids.

The artwork is pretty, and the game has a variety of shaped bottles that can be customised for different potions and displayed on my shop front. The life of an alchemist gets a bit repetitive though, but it is worth turning to occasionally, because its low-stakes vibe is comforting. The game can be played on the PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. It is currently also available with the Xbox Game Pass.

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