The Magic circle is a secretive place reserved for the greatest of magicians. To reach the pinnacle of this mysterious world takes skill, effort, and possibly a marvellous beard. When magic is mentioned, people picture Gandolf, Merlin, or Paul Daniels (actually, forget him.) What we don’t picture is the hard work and necessary abilities it takes to pick and blend the right ingredients. Alchemist Simulator opens the door on this long-ignored side of magic as you attempt to become a world-famous magician.
Developed by Polyslash and Art Games Studio and published by the latter, this is a resource management simulation title. Set in a dingy cottage, you are tasked with learning recipes, preparing ingredients, and making potions to order. It sounds straightforward, but until you understand the fundamentals, it’s confusing and clunky as hell to play.
Alchemist Simulator is its own worst enemy.
Simulation titles are all about planning, preparation, and a methodical approach. So, fans expect the learning curve to be challenging but achievable. Sadly, however, Alchemist Simulator is its own worst enemy as its poorly translated instructions leave you scratching your head. I sat for the first hour or so with a fixed look of confusion on my face. Also, these words kept popping into my mind, “what the hell is going on?” Unfortunately, it wasn’t the easiest of starts, but I’m glad I stuck with it.
After many restarts, lots of trial and error, and some re-reading of the instructions, I grasped the basic principles. Once I understood how the tools worked, how to dissect the ingredients, and the meaning of the four elemental lines, I was firing on all cylinders.
Don’t live in your relative’s shadow for too long.
The story, or what little there is of it, revolves around a novice alchemist who is the relative to a world-famous magician. He has been asked to fill in for his uncle, who is away on business. During this time, you’ll learn from his rat assistant, brew potions, discover new recipes, and improve the workshop.
The game uses a day/night cycle that enforces you to complete your tasks before nightfall. If you fail to do so, you collapse and all your loose ingredients will be lost. You’ll take on orders, brew potions, and finish each mission. If you are successful, you gain fame and fortune. Both are essential if you wish to reach your goal and progress in the game. The business element comes into play when purchasing stock. The ingredients vary in price each day and it’s essential to stock up when they are inexpensive. To succeed, you must be savvy and attentive as this will maximise your profits.
Chopping, crushing, drying, cleaning.
I didn’t expect alchemy to be easy, but Alchemist Simulator is something else. Cutting, crushing, drying, cleaning, and more are required to prepare every ingredient. It’s a bloody minefield and one that’s going to be tough to explain, so bear with me. Every ingredient contains a trait from different elemental branches. These are further broken down into four categories, each with a positive and negative side. There are Life and Death, Order and Chaos, and so forth. Each potion requires certain trace elements, and this is where your skills and magical tools come in.
You’ll use the cutting board to remove one elemental branch. The mortar will increase potency, whereas the drier will weaken it. You may clean one negative or positive trait, and more. By experimenting with ingredients and tools, you can create every potion in different ways. Subsequently, you’ll enjoy the rigidity of the recipes, but with the freedom and flair to create them how you wish.
Clear as mud!
Now, I know that explanation is confusing and is as clear as mud. However, a little practice and trial and error works wonders. If you are still struggling, you are provided with an Almanac to help fathom things out. This is your bible when playing Alchemist Simulator as it contains vital information.
You can find recipes, ingredients, workshop upgrades, and your level of fame. It also contains a handy elemental guide that helps you to make each potion. The level of support and helpful hints are set just right. They allow you the freedom to go it alone or use every available tip.
Alchemist Simulator is colourful, whimsical, but also pretty basic.
I admire the developers’ fun sense of humour and eye for detail. Their use of handwritten fonts, floating candles, and other clichéd fantasy imagery was great. The playable world may be small, but it’s packed with character. I loved the scurrying rodents, the automated cauldron, and the unusual ingredients. Sadly, though, the symbols for the potions were hard to read and blurry. Subsequently, this made a tougher game much harder. This is a key component of the gameplay and the developers should have done much better.
Before I switched this on, I knew how it would sound. Its bizarre and unusual world requires an airy and fun soundtrack to distract you from the monotony. Unsurprisingly, this is what you get. Its cheeky music will make you smile as you go about your business. When you combine it with explosives and the chopping of ingredients, it completes the package.
It’s a bit clumsy.
Simulation games normally handle much better on PC, and this is no different. Its clumsy controls lack accuracy and this is frustrating. I had to adjust the sensitivity to play it as the cursor was all over the place. Undoubtedly, a mouse and keyboard would have been better, as would the ability to carry multiple items. The constant back and forth to collect items is annoying and this could have easily been resolved with a small backpack.
Alchemist Simulator is addictive during its short playthrough. Once you grasp it, you’ll love creating every potion. However, the gameplay is repetitive, and this impacts its longevity. Fortunately, though, the replay value increases slightly if you are a completionist. To complete it, you must discover, make, and sell every potion.
Alchemist Simulator is tough to master, and addictive but lacks depth.
Simulation titles are all about the legacy you create, and sadly, Alchemist Simulator is lacking in this department. Unfortunately, it doesn’t evolve past its core concept and this leaves you wanting. I wish it had more depth and a larger world as this would expand upon the business elements. I still enjoyed it, despite its shortcomings and I recommend you to buy it here! Prove yourself to be a worthy successor and become the next big thing.