Craftlands Workshoppe (Early Access)

Craftlands Workshoppe – The Funny Indie Capitalist RPG Trading Adventure Game, well that is a mouthful and probably the longest title I have ever seen. At the same time, it captures the essence of the game quite well. For brevity’s sake I will refer to the game as Craftlands Workshoppe from now on. The game is getting released on Steam on the 13th October. Excalibur Games has partnered with the Shoppe Keep series lead developer Arvydas Žemaitis to bring this new fantasy business simulator with RPG elements. If you have played any of the Shoppe Keep installments, you will be familiar with the formula.

The game is set on a mythical island in the clouds, in fact it is more like a groups of islands. You are an apprentice working for master AllCraft. One day your boss disappears through a magical portal. You find a letter that he left you and it so happens that you become the proud owner of AllCraft’s shop. It is not exactly a luxurious place, but it is yours. All you need now is an operating license and you can open for business.

The island is vast and there is much more to do. All your fellow islanders have some quests for you to fulfill and of course you will want to solve the mysterious disappearance of the famous master AllCraft. If you work really hard, the business will become a success. You might even be able to fashion a magical key and walk through the portal to visit a whole new realm.

If you played any of the Shoppe Keep games, you will be pleasantly surprised by this latest game from Arvydas Žemaitis. Craftlands Workshoppe has seen major improvement over the last series. Almost every aspect has seen some upgrades and the artwork has massively improved in my opinion. While it kept the same indie look, it is visually much more appealing. The colorful graphics are stylized and both the angular looking characters and the artwork are similar in style to Minecraft. It will be sure to attract younger players, but players of all ages will surely enjoy it. I found it to be a fun style that does not take itself too seriously. The soundtrack is good. I did not find it exceptional, but it works well with the atmosphere present throughout the game.

There is some basic character customization at the start. You can choose between several options, skin color, hair type and different pre-chosen outfits. As you play and unlock some features, you will also be able to customize your workshop with different types of floors, walls and decorations. The gameplay is not very complicated and there is a short tutorial. If you have ever played a management game, you will be familiar with this formula.

First you will have to decide between three specialization licenses, cooking, blacksmith or alchemy. The objectives you will be ask to attain will be slightly different depending on the license you chose at the start. What is great is that whatever your choice, you will be able to experience the other profession, for a price of course. The gameplay is not complicated. First gather the supplies you need to complete whatever recipe you want to create. That can involve either buying the item, farming, mining or cutting trees to gather planks. The next step is to create the goods. There will be slight difference based on your choice of occupation. As an example when you are cooking, you will have to click for a set number of seconds depending on the dish. On the other hand, if you are a blacksmith you will have to click at the right moment which is when the moving indicator arrives in the green zone. The differences are not important and end up being inconsequential to the game. It still brings some interesting variety and the impression of truly doing a different profession.

There are also villagers that will task you with many different assignments. Those tasks range from visiting a certain shop of person to finding different items. When you complete a task you will be rewarded. The islanders will also offer you trades from time to time. There is a detailed map to help you find your way. It will also show you where every islander is and if they have quests and/or trades for you to complete. The gameplay was enjoyable but it can be a bit confusing at the start despite the short tutorial. It was not always clear what or where I had to go. The learning curve is not too steep, but there are a lot of different recipes, items and features you will have to learn and understand.

The story is fun, but very light and the conversations are mostly kept to tasks and businesses. It would be nice to see it evolved over time but then again it is not the goal of the game. One minor gripe I have is that it gets a bit repetitive after awhile. Then again it is a characteristics of management and simulation games. If you are an adept of those types of games it is an aspect you will be familiar with and the fantastic story manages to somewhat offset the repetitive aspect of the game. The game still has a few bugs but the developer seems keen on fixing any problems that arise in a prompt manner.

Craftlands Workshoppe is a humorous business simulator with an infusion of fantasy. The light story adds a sense of adventure to what could otherwise be a forgettable game. I loved seeing how the narrative would evolve. It is a perfect game to play for an hour or two at a time. Once you get the hang of it, it is a relaxing and fun game. If you like management type gameplay and/or the previous Shoppe Keep series, you should definitely give Craftlands Workshoppe a chance.

Written by Vee