Alchemy Emporium by Xteam Software Solutions & Curtel Games
There probably needs to be some kind of study into how popular games about job simulation are these days. I can only imagine what it says about us as a society when people worldwide love pouring hours into simulations of what they do every day. Of course, that’s not quite the case with Alchemy Emporium, which sets you as an entrepreneur in the Middle Ages.
The Toxic Waltz
Alchemy Emporium tasks you with trying to turn a profit on your potion-making business, wherever it may be located. After choosing your starting location, stats, and helper, you’re off to brew potions, expand your knowledge, and sell your wares. This is handled mainly by scheduling tasks for each day of the week, each of which has its nuances to manage. There are individual mechanics for buying, brewing, selling, and even reading.
If that sounds like a lot to manage, that’s because it is. What doesn’t help is that the game forces you to make several of these choices before ever offering the option of a tutorial. Each of the aforementioned starting options has an impact on how the game plays that’s never properly explained, leading to immediate confusion. Even once the game starts, the explanations provided for each element are less than helpful.
Don’t get me wrong, the game does encourage you to explore your option and make mistakes. It tells you outright that there are thousands of possible potions to make and to go wild throwing things together and trying to sell the results. The problem though is that it does this without even suggesting where to start. Not only that, but even if you get a grasp on that, the game gives you no way to know what your customers want. It’s genuinely frustrating.
From a production standpoint, the game has plenty of charm. Its 2D fantasy medieval art design is colorful and appealing to look at, and the music is nicely thematic and pleasant. The only thing that drags this down is the text found throughout the game, whose font looks more like a generic mobile game’s.
Mentioning the text also leads to another glaring issue, namely the game’s translation. Originally written in Italian, the game is full of typos and errors that shatter the immersion regularly. Worse still, entire sections of text will pop up that are still in Italian.
All of these factors combine to give us a game that ultimately could have used more time in the oven. At its core, Alchemy Emporium has a great theme and some good ideas. Unfortunately, it struggles to express them through un-intuitive design and jarring oversights. For gamers who don’t mind gameplay completely based on trial and error, something is beating at the center of this game. For everyone else though, this potion is probably too bitter.
Alchemy Emporium is available via Steam.
Watch the trailer for Alchemy Emporium below: