Game: Alchemic Cutie
Genre: RPG, Adventure, Strategy, Puzzle
System: Nintendo Switch (Also on Steam (Windows, Linux & Mac), Xbox One/X/S and PS4)
Developer | Publisher: Viridian Software, Vakio | PM Studios, CIRCLE Entertainment
Age Rating: US Everyone | EU 3+
Price: US $19.99 | UK £16.01 | EU € 18,22
Release Date: June 16th, 2023
Review code used, with many thanks to Team Critical Hit.
LadiesGamers first mentioned Alchemic Cutie coming to the Nintendo Switch back in 2019, it’s been a long wait. So has it been worth it? This relaxing RPG promises a colourful island with diverse landscapes, interesting villagers and hidden secrets, all whilst managing a jelly farm! A lot to deliver!
So does Alchemic Cutie turn a cast iron idea into a golden gem of a game, or will it be a gelatinous mess?
Welcome to Wimba Island
You play as Yvette, and having completed your training as an alchemist, you return to the family’s jelly farm. After some banter around the kitchen table, you receive a notebook to celebrate your graduation. The notebook records all your quests, jelly information, gameplay statistics, shipping orders and encyclopaedia of found items, as well as other useful information. There is a lot to take in, and it is a little overwhelming when you’ve only just started the game!
As you go outside, you have the option of a tutorial. You can decline, but you’ll miss out on a few starting jellies and items.
Desmond, your father, teaches the first part of the tutorial, where you learn to use your flute for alchemy. It also shows that not all items will transmute. The musical notes show the available energy to perform alchemy. Although energy regenerates naturally with time, eating or sleeping will boost its replenishment. Desmond then explains how to feed the jellies.
Accompanying your mother to the beach, Martha teaches you how to tame wild jellies. Playing the flute charms them into a musical trance, and attaching a balloon will transport them home. Back at the farm, you learn how to breed the jellies. By giving certain items, for example, a smooch bloom, the jellies start a mating dance, and as they bounce closer to each other, an egg appears.
The last part of this initial tutorial involves learning about the storage unit located at the back of the jelly pasture and checking the mailbox. There are other tutorials as you uncover more about the island’s secrets. Finally, deciding that you should visit your grandparents and close friends, your adventure on Wimba Island begins.
The Mysterious Land of Alchemic Cutie
There is an absolute wealth of information in the notebook, including a map of Wimba Island. The map shows the location of the town buildings and a place marker for Yvette, with the ability to add waypoints.
It was delightful to find a fast travel option back to the farm. However, it wasn’t until I started a second game that I realised you could also quickly travel to Wubba Temple. Try as I might, I could not get that option in my main game.
The notebook also contains the Cutiepedia, a useful reference guide, which updates as you discover more about Wimba Island, its residents, quests and activities. The detail about each place and character is wonderful. However, it doesn’t include the jelly training villagers can help with, even when you discover their talent. I had to get a pen and paper and write down who did what!
Keeping Note of Your Quests
The Quest Log shows all the quests; thankfully, though, you can hide the completed ones. It’s also possible to track a quest, in which case a marker appears on the map. Some of the quests relate to the main mystery of the island, whilst others refer to delivery requests – there is no grouping as such, but the icon next to the name helps distinguish them. The request in the Quest Log gives more information than some of the letters asking for jellies, so it’s worth reading once it appears in the log.
Cutie Jellies in Your Jelly Album
All the jellies you own or have transmuted into relics will appear in the Jelly Album. It will also show which jelly, if any, is in the backpack.
From the Jelly Album, it’s possible to view each individual jelly. This view gives more information about their abilities and experience; this helps them achieve greatness in the mini-games. In addition, it lists any traits (for example, explorer) and gives some comments about the jelly. You can also rename your little cuties.
And there’s more! By accessing the More Info tab, you can give a wearable item to your jelly (and some perform better if decorated). This extra information also gives the type, shape and colour in wording, as well as expanding on the trait details. For example, Lester is a bossy type, dowse shape and garbj in colour. As an explorer they can find hidden items when carried.
There are 32 shapes and 64 colours – the ones you find or breed appear in the Cutiedex. The vast number of colours is one of the downfalls. I admire the challenge the developers have set us, and even though humans can distinguish a million colours, I was struggling to see the difference between veggie and swamp.
Several of the quests rely on collecting jellies or relics of a certain shape and colour. I wish there was help with these criteria, maybe the option of purchasing a clue or seeing a close-up, because even if you know the name of the colour, you still have to make it. And the Cutiedex doesn’t store that mixing information, back to my pen and paper!
Alchemic Cutie is all about getting the right jelly or relic for the quest. One way to get jellies is to tame wild ones, and sending them home via balloon is definitely a highlight! It is so cute!
Another adorable activity is wandering around with an explorer-type jelly in your backpack. This will uncover all kinds of things – it might just be a plant seed, but it might be an island secret! Apart from seeing the jelly in your hot bar, you can also see a little face poking out of the backpack on Yvette. The attention to detail is delightful.
It took nearly 30 hours to complete the first season, but I’m glad I got to see the autumnal colours. There are new plants to discover, and existing ones have all moved places!
Then the Rains Came Down
I don’t mind the rain, and in a lot of farming sims, it’s a relief not to water the crops. Initially, the rain didn’t change my enjoyment of the game, even though the colours lost their intensity.
But in between the lighter showers, there were dark days. Darker than night time, because at night you have a circle of light around you. It was unpleasant to play in these conditions. If I was struggling with the colours before, I had absolutely no chance to distinguish them now.
There are four mini-games to play in Alchemic Cutie, and it’s great that they aren’t season dependent. Test your blob power in Jelly Sumo or Jelly Splash, your social skills in Jelly Vogue or your tummy capacity in Jelly Buffet. There are five levels per game, and you’ll need to select the best jelly and train them carefully to be able to win the top prize.
Got to Get Them All?
There aren’t any specific achievements for collecting or shipping x amount of this or that. However, you might want to challenge yourself to discover all 946 items in the Codex, tame all shapes and colours of jelly, complete all four shipping orders in a season or become Champion in all four mini-games.
What’s the Time?
The in-game time is 1 hour to 2.5 minutes in real-time, so it takes about 45 minutes to complete a day.
Bedtime is 10PM, and even if you have no energy or want to skip to the next day, you can’t go to sleep. However, there is no automatic collapsing at, say, 2 AM; you can stay up all night, and there will be times you want to! Meals are at set times – 6 AM, 11 AM and 5 PM, and it takes up to 2 hours to eat.
Although conversations and dialogue boxes stop the clock, reviewing your information packed notebook doesn’t. It’s easy to lose several game hours by just reading the notes and studying your jelly collection.
The controls are generally intuitive and with the autorun option, it limits the need to simultaneously hold the stick and button. However, the game is complex, and the same buttons have different purposes. So instead of getting the jelly info, the keyboard might appear; instead of feeding a jelly, you might drop the backpack’s contents.
There is no touchscreen functionality, and even with the vast amount of text, it is large enough to read in handheld mode.
The game has auto and manual saving. There is no name to the file, so although you can have two or more instances, it will be difficult to distinguish between them. There are a few options around the audio volumes, including altering the villager’s voice.
The biggest downfall of Alchemic Cutie is its performance. The game is constantly juddering and, on several occasions, completely froze (only resolved by returning to the Nintendo Switch Home Menu). Turning off the autosave made no difference. This ruined the game for me. The developers talk about performance issues in their blog, and hopefully, the release version is perfect! But this review is based on pre-release version 1.3.1d.
There are a few other little niggles: both L and R go back a page in the conversation notes; some of the text displays vertically; the previously selected options revert on loading; and waypoints don’t save on exit.
As noted by the ESRB rating, the game contains “bathroom” humour. This might not be appropriate or enjoyable for all gamers.
Alchemic Cutie is a game of highs and lows. The concept is great, and I adore the pixelated format. Wimba Island is full of mystery, and I’m keen to find out more. Unfortunately, the faded or night time colouring when it’s raining and the complexity of the jelly colour palette make it hard to give our top rating. The developers have clearly invested a huge amount of time and passion in the game, and I hope they continue to do so.
Ideally, I would rate this as “I Like it a Lot”. However, the poor performance on the Nintendo Switch version renders it impossible to recommend at the time of review.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure