“Hello, potion seller. I’m going into battle, and I need only your strongest potions.” – one of your soon-to-be-customers, probably.
Welcome to the newest game from indie studio Pine Drake Games, Apotheker, in which you play as the storeowner of a newly-opened Apothecary taking requests for all types of potions, poisons, brews and beverages. Meet interesting characters like Okra, your friendly neighborhood farmer looking for something to help her crops grow, or Phineas, the local guard captain. Or that masked stranger, who only seems to appear in the dead of night. I’m sure they’re a trustworthy sort…
I had the honor of playtesting this game earlier, and let me tell you, I loved it. There’s a mix of two main gameplay elements throughout the game: the brewing of the potions and the interactions with specific customers. The customer side reminded me of classic RPGs, with characters reacting in response to your choices, offering unique quests and storylines if you pursue their requests, and providing equally unique rewards upon successful completion. The designs were unique and memorable, really highlighting the characters’ personality and jobs and giving players insight into what they may ask for.
The brewing side was everything my control/management game-brain wanted: lots of ingredients to choose from, varying effects, all with delicious, delicious, flavor text and imagery to go with. The UI is fairly friendly, with clear meters marking out the target effects for the potion you’re trying to brew at any given point. Symbols make it very clear and easy to organize your numerous ingredients from beneficial to poisonous and everywhere in between and the nuances of the game’s various tools ensure there are countless ways to create the same potion depending on what approach you try to take.
You can amplify and diminish various ingredients, boil them to bring out their flavor, and experiment with a plethora of ways to prepare ingredients outside of just throwing them into the pot. But be careful how much you tinker! Potions can become unstable and explode, wasting all your hard work and costing you money to replace the missing supplies.
It is clear that the Pine Drake Games team has put a lot of love and effort into their inaugural title, from the art to the mechanics and all the story in between. As of writing this, Apotheker is set to release on November 20th on Steam, and you can wishlist and keep an eye on the game from their steam page here.
I, for one, will be waiting in line (the virtual line, that is), ready to play this game as soon as it’s available, and I hope to see you all there!