When discussing the games I’m playing I’m always torn on using comparisons for an easier, faster understanding while also thinking that’s an incredibly lazy thing to do (as a writer). So Alchemic Cutie is what you’d get if you merged the visuals and community center aspect of Stardew Valley with the slime collecting and breeding found in Slime Rancher. Good thing I’m lazy, huh?
I’ll be the first to admit that these types of “life sim” games have never been my cup of tea. I have ADHD which makes it difficult to focus on a massive to-do list, so while some may find this stuff relaxing my brain feels like it’s changing channels on a TV every 10 seconds. I can’t just focus on one or two things. This is never a game’s fault, though! It’s my own chemically imbalanced brain working against me.
However, I’ve always found value in coverage from the perspective of someone out of their comfort zone. For example, I’m not super into racing games but every so often one catches my attention. To me, I’d rather read about someone’s experience as a racing casual because it mirrors my own history with the genre. A die-hard Forza Motorsport fan is highly likely to use terminology I’m not used to and probably discusses the game’s newest entry expecting their readers to already be familiar with the previous ones. That does me no good.
So now that we know where I’m coming from — someone who bounces off of life-sim games very quickly — let’s talk a bit about my few hours with Viridian Software’s (probably) relaxing (to most people!) Alchemic Cutie.
For starters, the game is beautiful. I’m very much into this colorful and cozy pixel-art world of Wimba Island and its adorable characters and jellies. Again, I’m lazy and don’t like to beat around the bush, so the island here felt a lot like a bite-sized version of Stardew Valley’s town area and the game’s character portaits also felt a bit familiar.
Here, you play as Yvette, the daughter of a family of jelly farmers, who receives a notebook for her birthday. Said notebook allows her to keep track of quests and provides more detailed information on townsfolk and jellies. Anyway, today’s the day your parents teach you about the family business (catching, feeding, and breeding jelly slimes while fulfilling weekly shipping orders, again, similar to Stardew’s community center requests), and after a brief tutorial you’re kind of thrown to the wolves.
In order to capture jellies, Yvette needs to locate them out in the wild and soothe them with her flute (which, as expected, has limited uses per day and refreshes with consumable items and resting in bed) before fulton ballooning them back to the farm, Metal Gear-style. I believe the developer said there are literally thousands of different slime combinations, with most of them being the result of breeding.
Back at the farm, Yvette can satiate the jelly’s ravenous appetite with various foods and plants while also raising their happiness by petting them. She’s also an alchemist, which allows her to craft items to boost their stats. Certain foods will increase their jelly libido, which leads to a little sexy slime session and the production of an egg! These eggs can then be carried around in your backpack or stored somewhere warm for a specific number of in-game hours before hatching. If you’ve played Slime Rancher before, this is very similar to housing two different slime types in a single pen and seeing what happens. You start by roaming the town and capturing slimes that fall into elemental categories, like fire, water, and grass, feed them a bang berry, and repeat the process to get new and more interesting variations.
Each type of slime has their own stats and characteristics, but not all of them are created equal. At the end of each day, the unhappiest slimes on your farm will vanish forever, so expect to spend some quality time feeding and petting them. Once you’ve established your favorite jelly bois, you can raise their stats, enhance them at a local shop, and enter them into contests and competitions in town. I only ever saw a swimming contest, but in all fairness I did spend most of my 3 hours collecting plants and slime poop to fulfill shipping orders and not so much slime competitions.
Alchemic Cutie does have a larger focus on story than most games I’ve played in the genre, but I didn’t find it very interesting at the get-go. A lot of the banter is poop jokes and I think I called my brother “pee pants” at some point, so it’s light-hearted and sometimes funny, but a “focus” on story doesn’t mean it’s in-depth.
Just like every other life sim game I’ve played, I got way too distracted by all of the quests, the slime breeding aspect, fulfilling shipments, and trying to manage my energy and flute uses that I never really had any fun with Alchemic Cutie. It’s far from a bad game, though. If you’re a fan of the genre, you’re going to find something you like. That’s just how these games work. I just (personally) didn’t find the actual gameplay loop particularly new or interesting. I did want to give it a shot, though, since Slime Rancher was the closest I ever got to clicking with them.
Overall, it’s a game I’d say I didn’t care for but would otherwise score it pretty highly since it’s obviously competent and has plenty to keep you busy. But if you’re like me and have always struggled to gel with the genre, I don’t think anything will change with this one.
An Xbox copy of this game was provided by its publisher, PM Studios, for the purpose of this write-up. It’s currently priced at $19.99 USD and released on September 28th exclusively on Xbox and W10 PC through the ID@Xbox program. I believe it will also release on Steam and other consoles in December this year.