In Chymicalia, you’re the slave of a teleporting alchemy shop

By admin Mar31,2024

Chymicalia is an adventure game and/or visual novel “about causing chaos in a small Yorkshire town with unlicensed alchemy”. Hey, I’m from a small Yorkshire town originally! I recognise that chip shop with the palsied neon sign! And hey, that looks like the underpass they told us kids to stay away from! And the textile mill they eventually turned into an old folks home! And the teleporting sentient potion shop where we used to hang out and play pogs! Wait, scratch the last one.

There’s been a curious upsurge of games with brewing mechanics lately – consider The Magical Mixture Mill, out this week, or the picturesque hellscape that is Brew Barons. Chymicalia is one of the dourer entries, with a cracked, in-world phone interface and rundown pixelated locations that recall the petrochemical vistas of Norco.

Cover image for YouTube videoChymicalia trailer

The game is named for the aforesaid sentient potion shop, which is “roving across the cosmos, trapping one poor soul after another as its unwilling servant”. You play its latest victim, casually referred to as “maggot” by the voice in the shadows. As the game begins, the shop has seemingly carried you back home to Yorkshire after 10 years of indentured servitude.

Your task here is to chat with customers, identify their problems and attempt to create a potion that will set things to rights. The shop, however, has a “sinister agenda” for its clientele which you’ll need to factor into your plans – it puts me in mind of the mysterious musical instrument shop in Terry Pratchett’s Soul Music, though it seems rather less benign. You’ll have to find a way to keep all sides happy, perhaps. And beyond all that, there’s the vital question of escaping the shop’s control yourself.

This appears to be a younger version of a small Yorkshire town than the one I grew up in, as indicated by the “ACAB” graffiti on the wall outside the church. Play looks to follow a day-night rhythm with conversations unfolding both in the shop and in the streets and countryside beyond. The alchemy stuff, meanwhile, looks both pretty in-depth and jarringly ready-to-hand, if that’s the right word, in its choice of raw materials. You can concoct brews from ingredients like canal water, eggshells and cigarette ends, guided by hints such as “the Bell seeks and finds” and “I need something healing, or numbing”.

You can find Chymicalia on Itch and Steam. There’s no release date yet, so let me end by making the RPS-standard whiplash-inducing pivot into autobiography. I’m very interested to see how developer Falling Awkwardly weaves a sense of enchantment into a setting that literally consists, for me, of memory lanes. I’ve been trying to think of a suitably mysterious hometown anecdote of my own, to complement the announcement.

Here it is: if you get the train to Ben Rhydding and walk back down the lane towards Leeds past the big houses, you’ll come to a field with trees on the righthand side. Buried under the trees somewhere, there should be a bong called Edwin. I didn’t do cannabis as a young ‘un, but one of my close friends did and he naturally insisted on naming his bongs Edwin. There may be other Edwins buried elsewhere in town. Perhaps there’s even a magic teleporting shop, as well. I leave it to posterity to find out.

By admin

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