Genre: Puzzle, Simulation
System: Steam (Windows and macOS) (also available on itch.io)
Developer|Publisher: Forget Me Not Games
Controller Support: None
Price: UK £4.29 | US $4.99 | EU € 4,99
Release Date: September 7th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to Forget Me Not Games.
Apothecary is a cozy game all about running an apothecary. You have no experience, and you are thrown into running this little shop alone after the last apothecary left in a hurry.
The Story and Gameplay of Apothecary
As you head into your new shop for the first time, you realize two important things: that the place is a mess, and the last apothecary ripped up all the recipes! This means you will have to experiment with all the ingredients left around the shop to make all the potions you need.
The first customer to show up is the froggie mayor; he wants to grow hair on his head, so you must keep combining items around the shop until you figure out how to make it. Each potion needs to be tested, and thankfully, you have a willing? subject to do your testing on an immortal being named Roger that doesn’t mind trying random potions to see what they do to him.
Apothecary has a very “made-in-MSPaint” vibe that is fun and fits the game’s aesthetic. It’s very silly, very simple, and you play without any timers or goals. Basically, someone will come up to the window and ask for a potion. You experiment until you figure out the recipe, then you bottle it, and ship it to the customer.
The Pros of Apothecary the Game
Apothecary is so very, very silly. Furthermore, I can’t tell you the number of times I accidentally killed the immortal friend you have to experiment on (though he doesn’t seem to mind) before I started to learn how the game works. I managed to stumble into potions that made him grow hair and ones that gave him loads of sparkles before I really got the idea of what I was supposed to be doing.
Everything is relaxing in this little shop, too; customers are never in a rush for potions, so you can take your time figuring them out and writing the recipes down on the walls. Then, you send them off with the potion chute that apparently covers the whole town and get your money for your hard work.
Cute, simple, fun, funny, and goofy.
The Cons of Apothecary the Game
All that being said, there is a lot that needs work in Apothecary. It’s cute, but it feels unfinished. I like the concept, but there is something to be said for 2D versions of these types of games; Apothecary is kind of sickening to play. I found myself feeling kind of nauseous around the 10-minute mark, a feeling that only got worse as the game continued.
There is not much of a tutorial for Apothecary; you’re kind of expected to stumble your way through. I think this could be solved by providing the first recipe, even if the rest are ripped up. It does walk you through the steps of putting together your business, sort of, but things are a little bit confusing until you realize how to get started. It’s just a little confusing in the beginning.
Also, there is the whole making potions thing: it’s a little frustrating. You have all these bottles all over the floor because there’s nowhere to put them; the shop cannot organize the bottles or keep things in order. There is only one pipette to bring potions over to Roger to test them, and keeping what you have tried and what you haven’t is a nightmare.
Not to mention, there’s no permanent way to keep track of the potions you’ve figured out; the recipe book doesn’t get new pages, and anything you doodle on the walls doesn’t stick around if you reload. Not even Roger’s face sticks around; I had to redraw it when I came back to my save.
Overall, Apothecary has a very “first game” kind of feel to it. It’s a fun premise, but it’s dizzying and difficult. I think it needs some love and playtesting, but it has a good foundation for a fun, relaxing game that could possibly go places.
Final Verdict: I’m Not Sure.