Step into the enchanting world of Alchemy Garden, a charming blend of farming and shop management simulation genres that invites you to nurture your own mystical garden and concoct magical potions for lucrative returns.
After some basic character customisation, we are thrust into the first day of our journey as a garden alchemist. Our humble abode resides amidst a sprawling plot of land ripe for farming, foraging, and expansion over time. Each day heralds the arrival of new plants, enticing us to explore the lush surroundings. While most of our discoveries manifest as precious potion ingredients, we may also stumble upon fruits and mine gemstones, all of which can grace the shelves of our quaint shop.
Customisation enthusiasts will find some joy in the options available to transform their shop into a reflection of their personality. From cozy atmospheres to bewitching aesthetics, the Early Access variety may be limited, but it’s adequate for weaving together cohesive shop themes. The interior ambiance may also affect the generosity of your customers, influencing the prices they’re willing to pay for your magical wares.
Foraging is your immediate source of potion ingredients, scattered across the farm, town, and swamp. Each ingredient boasts its unique properties, whether curative herbs or perilous mushrooms, all awaiting their alchemical transformation in your trusty cauldron. The process is nicely straightforward: pulverise the ingredients with a mortar and pestle, then pump the bellows of the cauldron. Failure is rarely an option, except when combining ingredients that don’t synergise.
Tool durability presents another concern, starting out quite low and prompting frequent replacements from town shops or crafting. Yet, the balance between tool “tiers” (stone-copper-iron) leaves something to be desired, as they seem remarkably similar in durability. In my first week, I managed to obliterate four or five tools, but it took me two weeks to notice the mine for gathering tool-based resources—a preferable alternative to repeatedly depleting my potion profits on new ones.
The true revenue stream lies in crafting potions and showcasing them in your shop. Craft or purchase tables and shelves, arrange them as you please, and open your doors to a steady stream of eager customers. If they can’t find what they seek, they’ll approach your desk with special requests, sometimes sparking a haggling mini-game. Sales otherwise occur automatically, leaving you free to focus on restocking and assisting customers seeking remedies for their constipation and broken bones.
Periodically, the Alchemist guild sends letters, specifying the potions currently in high demand, enabling you to fine-tune your ingredient cultivation and maximise your profits. Additionally, the town’s job board offers various tasks, such as delivering goods to the townsfolk, to further bolster your coffers. Within the town, you’ll discover a handful of shops offering further customisation options for your character and farm, along with a selection of seeds. However, it’s worth noting that some menu interfaces still seem optimised for PC use, which can pose significant challenges when using an Xbox controller.
Indeed, Alchemy Garden exudes charm in some areas but leaves room for improvement. Character models could use some refinement, as they appear somewhat flat, with defining attributes like hair blending into mere swaths of colour rather than distinctive styles. Their movements also feel a tad unnatural, evoking images of the T-1000—an odd fit for a world populated by plants rather than teenage boys bringing the downfall of sentient AI. Though there are a few townspeople, they seem stuck in a repetitive loop, sharing the same anecdotes day after day. It’s endearing at first but leaves the game feeling somewhat hollow over time.
What Alchemy Garden currently offers intrigues and entices, but the path ahead is paved with anticipation. It’s challenging to maintain interest when the horizon reveals your limits. While the days provide ample opportunities, a certain monotony sets in after a few weeks, driven by a stamina bar that only replenishes with scarce, low-energy-yielding fruits. It’s my hope that cooking becomes an option later on, fitting with the game’s themes and offering a solution to this issue.
Despite clearly needing additional work to smooth over some cracks, Alchemy Garden is a promising enchantment that beckons players to dive deeper into its magical world. While we may need to exercise some patience for improvements to arrive, the potential for an even more captivating experience is evident. If you’re enchanted by the idea of growing herbs, crafting potions, and tending to your mystical shop, Alchemy Garden feels like it could be a rose amongst thorns in the future.
MadSushi Games’ Alchemy Garden is out now on all formats. Published by JanduSoft.