The Best Potion-Making Game is Leaving Game Pass — And Coming to Nintendo and PlayStation
Adventures in alchemy.
The humble alchemist is the backbone of any fantasy town’s economy, curing townsfolk of curses and keeping adventurers alive while they’re out hunting monsters. A few recent games have finally given these working class heroes the attention they deserve, and none focuses as much on the essential art of potion-making as Potion Craft: Alchemy Simulator. You only have until December 15 to play it on Xbox Game Pass, but if you miss that window, you can luckily still pick it up on Nintendo Switch and PlayStation consoles, where it just launched this week.
As its name implies, Potion Craft is a simulation game about the art of alchemy. Other recent brew-‘em-ups like Potionomics embellish their potion-making with social aspects and complex haggle systems, but Potion Craft keeps it simple. Or at least, it keeps things focused. Potion-making is, after all, a lot of work.
While Potion Craft is almost entirely concerned with creating potions, that single-minded objective turns the process into a complex, multi-step activity. You play as an out-of-work alchemist who stumbles upon an abandoned wizard’s shack full of busted-up potion-making equipment. Starting from scratch, you need to grow and pick various magical herbs in your garden then walk step-by-step through brewing potions. That means grinding the herbs, and stoking the cauldron, before adding your ingredients to it — where the real work begins.
Brewing potions takes a careful mix of experimentation, alchemical know-how, and lots of patience. The brewing interface is essentially a large map, with different potions placed as icons across its surface. By stirring the cauldron, you travel along the map in a fixed direction determined by which ingredient you use, with the goal of landing on one of these icons. Simple herbs might let you move a short distance in one direction, while rare magical ingredients send you on a long, winding path. You can extend the distance you travel by grinding herbs before adding them to the pot, or move backwards by adding a dash of water.
It all comes together in a process that feels a lot more like scientific discovery than the prescribed formulas that make up most games’ crafting systems.
Once you’ve done all that, it’s time to sell your wares. Haggling is a simple timing-based mini-game, but what’s interesting is how it helps build your reputation. You can always choose to simply decline a sale, but doing so affects how the townsfolk treat you. Focus on selling curatives and more customers will come calling for healing potions. Gain a reputation for hawking poisons and other malicious tinctures, and before long, your shop will be filled with thieves and assassins, looking for help with their next dirty deeds.
Along with choosing your clientele, you can customize your shop by placing potions around as decorations. It’s not an essential part of the game, but it does let you decide what vibe you want for your new home.
Your recipe book actually offers much more customization potential than your shop. Whenever you create a new potion, you’re able to design the bottle it comes in — down to its color, an icon for the label, and both the name and description it’ll be listed under. Choosing fun names and eye-catching designs for potions scratched my customization itch in a way that decorating my shop didn’t. And with everything rendered like a historical manuscript, it almost feels like you’re living in a recipe book yourself.
It’s not just about looks, either. When you save a potion to your recipe book, you can make it again without having to go through the laborious process of navigating through the brewing map. After you’ve put some time into the game and your potions become much more complex, it’s handy not having to repeat steps so you can save your energy for hunting for brand-new concoctions.
Where other potion-making sims feel like Swiss army knives, Potion Craft is a precision tool. It doesn’t offer a lot of extra activities, but its focus on the art of alchemy makes it one of the most engaging crafting games ever. Whether you try it out on Game Pass or pick up one of the new console releases, Potion Craft is one of the most rewarding chill games to try this winter.