When I first downloaded Little Alchemist, I have to admit – I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I knew that it was a card battling game, in the same vein as Hearthstone, and to a degree, Magic the Gathering, but the art style and general design made me think I was stepping into some sort of deck building game for children. But while the art style is colorful and cheerful, the gameplay is surprisingly deep and offered far more depth then I imagined.
The plot is as follows: You’re an alchemist-in-training, tasked by your master to look over his study while he is away. While you sweep under tables and beakers, you accidentally knock over a bottle; conveniently containing every bad guy in existence (Don’t you hate it when that happens.) From there, you battle across the land, defeating these evil masters before your own master comes back home. It’s nothing to write home about, but the plot and characters that you come across are cute and the writing is simple, joke-heavy, and perfect for younger gamers.
The gameplay mechanics are straight forward, and anyone with deck-building, card-battling experience will feel right at home. You and your opponent play a card and if the card’s attack damage is greater than the opponent’s defense, you deal damage, it’s simple as that. When you defeat opponents, you gain new cards and coins which you can use to, well, buy more cards. It’s a process that slowly becomes a vicious cycle: battling to earn coins, and then spending them in hopes that a rare card will be packed away in the booster pack. Rinse and repeat.
What sets Little Alchemist apart from other games is its core concept — combinations. You begin with a deck of basic cards that you can combine to create stronger cards. It’s a simple concept, but one that adds a plethora of depth to the game, as well as sets it apart from similar titles. The combos are always interesting and quirky, and sometimes yield unexpected results. There’s also a research option that allows players to research combinations that are not immediately available. In addition, there’s an online arena mode where players can duke it out over the internet. It’s fun and easy enough to jump into and not get completely destroyed, but I’d advise building a solid deck before taking on the world.
With all this being said, Little Alchemist does have a few shortcomings, mainly from its status as a freemium game. You can download and play Little Alchemist for free, sure, but every battle requires a certain number of potions, and once those potions are used up; you have to wait and recharge in order to battle again or pay to play. In the shop, there are also booster decks and packs that you can buy using gems, which you can either try and earn through battling, or shell out real money for them. Researching card combos takes time, sometimes requiring only an hour and other times a whole day. This wait time can be expedited with – well, you guessed it — some cold hard cash. Note that these aren’t required purchases, and are totally optional, but some the paywalls are so high, that it’s sometimes easier to just pull out a credit card. We don’t like entrenched, all-encompassing paywalls here at Hardcore Droid. Unlike a slew of mobile pay to win titles, however, Little Alchemist offers up a lot of free play time. Card game fans will find themselves enjoying an awful lot of content here before the need to pay to play kicks in, and by that time some players may opt out. Most won’t.
Little Alchemist does a lot of things right. The basic gameplay is so straight forward that anyone can jump in and the deck customization and card selection adds the depth that’ll keep them playing. I remember when I got into Magic the Gathering in high school and would spend my lunch period trading and battling with other friends who were just as involved. Little Alchemist harkened back to that time, when it was simple and uncomplicated and just plain fun. Whether you’re looking for a casual way to jump back into card-battling, or have never known the joy of a finding a rare in a fresh booster pack, Little Alchemist is for you. Just be warned that addiction often leads to a loose wallet.
Is it Hardcore?
Little Alchemist’s simple gameplay draws you in, while the combo-making and deck building keep you playing. Its only drawback is its freemium roots.