Discover more from Rambling Reviews
Alchemist Simulator, the most punishing cosy game I've ever played.
Misclicked? Tough luck, start over.
Tags: [singleplayer] [crafting] [relaxing]
The game starts out like so many do - your grandfather puts you in charge of his alchemy lab while he is out of town on a business trip. You know next to nothing, and are helped by his assistant, who, frankly, doesn’t really do that good of a job instructing you.
Segue. For a while now, I’ve been looking for a game that covers the same ground as the Thaumcraft mod for Minecraft: magical aspects that you extract from ingredients you find by exploring the world, which you then use to craft potions, cast spells, summon stuff, raise golems, enchant things.
If you know of such a game, please let me know in the comments, I beg you.
So when Alchemist Simulator started out with this…
… I got disproportionally excited.
The aspect system is the right amount of complicated. There are four pillars on which aspects are mapped. Ingredient have one or more aspects, which you can make stronger, weaker or cut out altogether, depending on what the recipe needs. You do this with using cutting board, your dryer or your mortar and pestle. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty straight-forward and actually kind of fun, figuring out which ingredients to get and how to process them.
One thing that I hate - and I can’t stress the word “hate” enough here - is that there is no indication of how long anything takes. You put an ingredient into a machine, and it tells you “it will finish in a while”. This might just be my ADHD brain, but that annoys the crap out of me. I don’t necessarily need to see a second countdown, but some sort of progression bar would have been nice.
The thing is, unless I’m thoroughly missing something, the game gets repetitive immediately. Get mail, pick quest, buy ingredients, do things to them, put them in the cauldron, craft a potion, sell it to your assistant, bed time, rinse, repeat. And most of all, if you make a mistake and cut out the wrong aspect or whatever, you run out of ingredients to brew potions with, you run out of money, and thus you’re stuck again. Time also seems to fly by, leaving little more time after brewing the quest potion to brew anything else for extra money.
Overall quite punishing, and frankly taking the “fun, relaxed, cosy” out of it.
There is no storyline other than “your grandfather is out of town, his friend will send you requests for potions you have to make”.
Visuals & music
The animations in the different workbenches are cute and satisfying. The grinding noise was a bit too, well, grinding for my taste, but what’s in a name?
The tutorial does what it has to do, but it could be a bit more…
For example, a restriction on performing the wrong action on your ingredient, so you don’t get stuck without ingredients nor money in the tutorial, forcing you to start a new game altogether.
A tutorial is supposed to teach you what to do, not punish you this hard for genuinely not knowing something yet.
Eh, not really?
I have to admit, I had high hopes when buying this game. I thought for sure I had found the “Thaumcraft but not a Minecraft mod”-game I’ve been craving for a while. But though the aspect system is interesting and the look and feel of the game is relaxing and cosy, the gameplay just isn’t there for me. It’s a repeat of processing ingredients and being stressed out not to do anything wrong, at the risk of just getting stuck without ingredients or money.
To me, the game feels like an early access game without being one.
This is one of those games that I might and probably will give another chance in the future, when I’m bored and craving some specific itch to be scratched, but for the time being, it’s just not what I had expected or wanted.
Liked this review? Subscribe for more!