I've fallen out of love with the concept of crafting games lately because it so often boils down to stacks of items in my inventory that I press a button to process. Potion Craft has reignited the excitement I used to feel about crafty games with its lovely, clever little demo about brewing potions for your shop. If you've been itching for a properly good crafting game of late, let me tell you why you should fire up the demo this weekend.
I already knew Potion Craft had a physical quality to it, something that's drawn me to a lot of games recently. I've grown weary of pressing buttons that make things happen and far prefer just being allowed to simulate the thing happening somehow. Potion Craft does have that—from cranking the bellows to strirring your cauldon to chucking your potions around the shop—and it's just as satisfying as I'd hoped.
The real magic of Potion Craft, however, is that it really isn't about learning recipes at all. It's so much more playful than that. Your brewing screen is like a little adventure map and each ingredient has a determined path sort of like a chess piece. Stringing them together carries your potion along that path as you mix it and then stop along the way to bake in the effect you were looking for. You don't learn an ingredient's properties so much as its shape. Creating a new potion is less a science than a jaunt through the fog of war with your party of friendly plants.
There are other little touches I quite like as well, like how my mortar and pestle get stained with just a hint of color depending on what I'm crushing. Being able to name my potions and customise their labels is a treat too, and one that I fully intend to abuse by giving them annoying names. When the local farmer needs a cure for his tired legs I'll cheerily hand him over my secret blend of Red Bull. Heck, I didn't even get around to mentioning the garden or the shopkeeping and haggling bit.
Potion Craft is one of the oh so many demos currently available in the Steam Game Festival and I'm honestly glad I took a moment to stop and smell the firebells. It made me squint at my screen with my hand on my chin in a way I haven't in quite a while. If you get overwhelmed by the way too many demos that you could possibly try, like I do, let this be your sign to just try this one for half an hour. That's plenty of time to enjoy a bit and decide you'd like to come back or take a go at another game on Alice Bee's list of best demos in the Steam Winter Festival.
You can try the Potion Craft demo yourself over on Steam until the festival ends next Tuesday, February 9th. It doesn't currently have a release date but is expected sometime this year.