✓︎ Cute graphics with adorable designs.
✓︎ The energy limit applies to fishing, the forest and the mines only.
✓︎ Although this game has no real skill progression system, the potions that are unlocked make up for it in a novel way.
✓︎ Big variety of different items, potions and animals.
✓︎ Bugs are rare, there should be none at the moment.
✓︎ The library provides valuable hints about the game.
✓︎ This game is a product of love! Graphics and coding made by a single person and meaningful updates.
✕ No confirmation button to go to sleep or close the game, the latter can lead to losing lots of progress.
✕ Small map and limited NPCs, not that much content, but more will be added.
✕ This videoludic genre is usually made more interesting by adding random encounters when going to sleep or waking up. This is not present here.
Alchemy Story is a third person story driven game inspired by Harvest Moon. The protagonist is an alchemist apprentice, who moves to a city cursed with cuteness.
Story, Dialogue and Characters
The playable character, Arabella, is a young lady and a learning alchemist. She moves to the town, to become an apprentice. That’s not all though – the village is under a witch’s curse. The villagers have all turned into adorable talking animals and have lost their memories. It is up to this duo of scientists to save the day.
The curse can only be lifted through a ritual, which requires some preparations from Edward. The protagonist’s task is to talk to the townsfolk and liven up their memories as well as collect a few items referred to as mementos. When the time comes and the spell is performed, the citizen turns back to their human self.
The more the story progresses though, more doubts are cast about the witch’s ill intentions. The truth is still to be revealed, as the story is not fully complete.
The characters personalities are all well defined. Everyone has their own way to express themselves and the things they like can be actually guessed based on their lines. They are not just flat NPCs, but they also have some kinds of stories, more or less complex and their relationships! Some of them are siblings, close friends or friends who like to tease each other. Another charming detail is that each of them has their unique nickname for Arabella.
There are the usual day mechanics – starting at 8 am and ending at midnight. Not going to sleep in time will make the player lose a fraction of their money. If necessary, a Sleep Potion can be used to end a day safely.
The big thing about this game is potion making. The game already provides two starter recipes, more can be unlocked either by making friends with NPCs or buying them from Edward.
Each day an adorable owl at the front door, tasks the player with making three potions in exchange for money, with a bonus is all three are delivered. Additionally all the potions grant or enhance some abilities. This means it’s not just some meaningless crafting, but many elixirs are extremely useful. An example of that is the Dash Potion, which makes the movement quicker for a day. Yes, the potion bonuses last the entire day and different potions can be used together.
Most of the items can be foraged throughout the map. Some can be also obtained with the field plots, by giving a specific gift to our animal garden helper in exchange for sewing some seeds.
There are cute cows, sheep, chickens and rabbits in different natural
colors. If fed daily, they will grow and eventually provide unique ingredients. Petting them will increase their affection, improving their loot, but interacting with creatures on other farms restores a small quantity of energy. There is a chicken coop and barn, that can be upgraded after building is unlocked.
There are four different fish species. There is a common fish which is the only one in the freshwater ponds. There are also fish specific to the zone. The fishing mechanics are immediate, consisting in clicking to reel in at the right moment.
After some time two “dungeons” are unlocked. There is no combat, they are only gathering grounds. They are both level based zones, that have particular items available on different depths. Building will allow the construction or elevators to get to the milestone floors and some of them have lakes with special fish. There are also tool upgrades, which reduce the energy consumption.
The first to be unlocked is the forest. The resources inside this location are different types of wood and mushrooms. Sometimes there is a bench, that allows for some energy restoration. In order to proceed further the player has to chop down trees until they find the key for the next floor.
The mines are a little more complex. To go down, the player needs to refuel the mining carts engine with coal on each floor, but the quantity of the coal requested is not really constant. Additional carts be bought, because the quantity of the resources gathered in there is limited at the start. In the mines there are various minerals, mushrooms and extremely rare ponds that dye Arabelle’s hair unusual colors, such as green.
There are three different categories for the missions. There are Adventure, Research and Delivery quests. Adventure and Research quests are plot related, while Delivery ones are just random ingredient gathering missions that can be abandoned. The main missions consist mostly in talking to the villagers and finding their mementos, their personal items that are tied to their memories. They require a lot of waiting, because the transformation ritual has to be first prepared, so the time requested to complete them does not really depend on the player, unless they just don’t progress with the story. All the missions are received through the postmail.
Extra items can be sold at the marketplace, they just sell automatically as the time passes. The money can be used to buy animals, upgrades and ingredients, as well as apparel items.
Character customization is unlocked after most of the story is completed. Different outfits can be bought from the tailor and can be changed at any time. The hairstyles though replace the older look and the only way to change them back is to buy them again. Only natural colors can be bought at the hairdresser. All NPCs have only 4 available items at a time.
Graphics and soundtrack
The graphics are very cute and charming. The palette is mainly warm and tied up by a cleverly limited quantity of colors. Character design is spot on and reflects the characters’ personalities. All the details have a handmade charm to them. The overall graphics are not extremely refined, similar to the chunkier My Time at Portia style.
The soundtrack is fitting and overall good, but there is only one soundtrack for each zone.
Performance, Bugs and Issues
All the bugs have been fixed after reporting them.
The only issues I really need to address is the lack of a confirmation button before quitting the game or going to sleep. The game saves only when the player interacts with the bed, which means that closing the game accidentally during the day would reset the day.
Specs of the computer used:
Intel(R) Core(TM) i7 4820K
16 GB RAM
NVIDIA GeForce 1080
Content to Price Ratio
The time/price ratio of the game is good, considering as of now it offers around 15 hours of content, but it will undercome many updates during this year of early access. If you want to support a hard working single person developer (and the musician behind the soundtrack), I’d say it is worth the price.
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