Game Review: Little Alchemist (Mobile)

When I first downloaded Little Alchemist, from indie developer Kongregate  I thought it may be a good time waster type of game based on the descriptor in the app store. It appeared on the surface to just be another free card deck building game with cute cartoon like graphics, but once I gave it a chance I found that there was much more depth to the game. I play this game quite often, and even though it ended up on the back burner for awhile, the constant updates to available content has had me jumping back into the game time and time again.

In Little Alchemist, you play as an alchemist in training with the objective to care for and clean the study room of the Master Alchemist. While sweeping and dusting, you knock over a sealed bottle, which conveniently contained every single evil alchemists in existence. Good job, you just opened the “Pandora’s box” of the alchemy world…*sigh*. Now you are tasked with battling each of these released Master Alchemists and returning them to a sealed confinement, before your own master returns to find out what you have done.

Before the game starts you in on your first battles of the game, you get to choose your type of alchemist style you wish to play as:

  • Elementalist (Burn your enemies)
  • Enchanter (Enhance your cards)
  • Healer (Heal your wounds)

Choose wisely as this will have an effect on what your starter deck and combo pool is. You can freely change your type at anytime during the game between battles.

You are now left in what is now your Main Menu screen, an interactive study room with various interface options like Research, Edit Deck, Arena (online battle), Shoppe (with optional in app purchases) and a portal to the Adventure map.

The Adventure Map is the main storyline to follow in the game, with various areas outlined in a treasure map form. Each area has designated Evil Master Alchemists that have escaped and are now ready to battle you. Each one has a various amount of special cards attributed to them, delegated by bronze, silver and gold— defining how rare they are to find in game. An Evil Master Alchemist just needs to be beaten once to move on to the next one in the area (and they get harder to beat as you move up in them), but you can defeat the same alchemist multiple times in order to unlock the special cards. This alone can be a challenge to try and get some unique cards into your deck – especially useful for online head to head battles in the Arena. Defeat all of the Alchemists in an area to unlock the next on the map. You can always access previous areas on the map once unlocked.

The gameplay is quite straightforward – your opponent and you each will play a card to battle against each other. Depending on the attack and defense values on each card will determine the outcome of the draw battle. If the attack damage is greater than the opponent’s defense, damage equal to the difference is deducted from the life of the player with the weaker card. This can sometimes result in both players taking a slight hit in life depending on card attack/defense combinations. In the result of a tie value, no player takes a hit in life. The goal is to continue to play cards against each other until one player is defeated by loss of life points. When an opponent is defeated coins and experience points are rewarded to you. Once you have gained enough experience, you will level up. At different levels you may be rewarded with more coins, a special card or a potion which can be used to enhance cards.

Once in awhile, online events happen in game, where the Adventure Portal turns into an Event Portal. For usually a week, new unique enemies are made available to battle. Duelling these enemies gains you the opportunity to unlock Diamond cards, which are more rare than Gold cards. The goal in the Event Portal is to battle the same enemy to win as much as possible, as every 5-10 wins will unlock different prizes such as gems, coins, or spin for a random card. Its challenging and exciting all at once.

Like most deck building, card-battling game, it is your goal to take your basic 35 card starter deck and develop it to make you more successful and powerful in battle.

One of the ways to improve your deck is to go into Research, which is ultimately your alchemist lab, and research new card combinations to help in battle. It takes a bit of to muddle through once you have a lot of cards in your inventory, but if you can find two cards that will make a possible new combination (aka new card), you can set to research it. Research can take as little as an hour to as much as a day, depending on the strength of the resulting card (bronze, silver, gold). Once a combination is researched, it becomes knowledge for you, and thus if you have the appropriate cards in your hand in-battle, you can play them to form the combination card. This then makes the new card the one you are submitting to battle….making you harder to defeat in the round. Sometimes different combinations will result in the same card outcome, which opens up further possibilities for in-battle combos. There are over  350 card combinations to make – and this is ever growing with further updates rolling out for the game.

Another way to improve your deck is to visit the Shoppe, where you can in-app purchase “gems” to decrease research times, buy more research stations to research multiple combos at once, or buy special booster card packs. If you aren’t into spending your real world money, you can still open card packs that will occasionally have a rare or ultra rare card once you gain enough coin in game from battle winnings. The issue is that if you choose to game without using app purchasing, you will spend a lot of your time waiting on research times….which can be a drag on the desire to play the game.

One of the most fundamental things to do to improve your deck is to simply edit it. You have the ability to add and remove any cards in your possession, either from winnings or package purchases, and thus strengthen your deck. Or even customize it to your gaming style once you have played through a bit. You also will have the option to upgrade cards. The cards all have a level indicator on them, thus affecting their attack/defense strength. Using “dust” a card level can be increased, improving its stats. Dust is accumulated by “consuming cards”, which is the manner of destroying cards that are weak, or that you have too many doubles of. Each card level up requires a certain amount of dust to complete. This process is very useful, especially on cards that you use often.

Beyond improving your deck…. it’s all up to you to improve your card playing skills and ultimately rid the world of the Evil Master Alchemists once again.

The gameplay is simplistic enough that gamer’s of any age can adapt to, and since the game does not focus on the need for in game purchases to further storyline, it keeps the player invested in the game. The cartoonish artistic style keeps the visual environment fun and friendly, and the cards unique designs and names are sometimes worth a chuckle.

I found the game refreshing, but challenging enough to not want to put it down. There was something so exciting about working hard to beat the Evil Alchemists to get enough coins to buy yet another booster pack. Even more was seeing the endless amounts of unique card combinations available such as “Chinzilla” or “ArchAngel” ….though how disastrous to find that some combos just end up making “Dust” or “Human”… boring!!! Whether you are looking for a casual card battling game, or have the need to fill your greedy need to find all the ultra rare cards in the game, Little Alchemist has something for everyone. This is one free game that will not disappoint.

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