The idea of being a shopkeeper in a role-playing video game has always intrigued me. Collect or craft items for adventurers to purchase while you run and upgrade your own shop sounds sublime, and incredibly addictive. I’ve never really found such a game with a satisfying gameplay loop—Moonlighter is perhaps the best known example of such a game, and despite its popularity and critical success I didn’t really care for it too much. I have to admit: Craftlands Workshoppe didn’t look like it was up to the task, but looks can be deceiving.
Craftlands Workshoppe is a crafting, management game. It uses humor liberally, and even though the humor can be quite juvenile at times, it manages to land often—even for this stuffy old reviewer. In it you play as a newly minted shopkeeper, taking over an abandoned shop (or shoppe, if you prefer). It’s played from an isometric top-down angle, and has a clean, bright art style. It takes place in the Shoppe Keep universe, if you’re familiar with those games, Craftlands is a completely different experience—though some of the humor remains.
In Craftlands Workshoppe you’ll have to set up your shop, first by cleaning, then by gathering materials to make product. You start off by simply making iron tools, nails, and swords before graduating to more complicated and durable equipment. Once you’re ready to sell, you open up your shop, and if there are customers, they’ll start pouring in. Craftlands Workshoppe takes place in a whimsical but mystical realm where airships dock at islands set in the sky. Soon customers will start demanding tools or items you can’t make—and that requires, usually, interacting with the other shopkeepers in the area to get specific recipes, or to even sell your goods. If you want full access to all of the islands, you’ll have to earn it, though—each floating island must have a bridge built to it. Bridges mean money, and permits.
Craftlands Workshoppe is in Early Access, which means it’s still in development. As of right now, it offers pretty solid base gameplay. I have to say though, I absolutely hate the movement options—either tank controls, or weird directional movement that reminds me of something from the earlier days of 3D games—before developers figured out how to make a control scheme that works for them. But everything else is serviceable, and even mostly fun. According to the Early Access information on the Steam store page, the core gameplay loop is there, but the story is not yet completed. If you want o discover all of the secrets of Allcraft, you’ll have to wait for the full release.
I’m not saying Craftlands Workshoppe is going to take over the shopkeeper genre, but it definitely has a chance to. It’s fun, has a bright and pleasing art style, and a juvenile sort of humor that somehow manages to be clever and funny. It’s definitely still an Early Access game, but it’s fun to play, and has a load of potential. I’m definitely excited to see how Craftlands Workshoppe ends up.
Craftlands Workshoppe is available today on Steam Early Access.
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