Vulgar Knight
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Craftlands Workshoppe Early Access Review

Master your craft - all three of them, in this indie RPG trading game

If I were to describe Craftlands Workshoppe in one word, it would be crafty. That word is layered with many meanings from the literal crafting of objects to the sneaky mark-up you add to your wares to earn a wage.

This resource simulator from Arvydas Žemaitis and published by Excalibur Games is a seed that could branch out into a game that will have you hooked at every given opportunity – it’s addictive, in terms of gameplay and charm.

The broad goal of the game is to take charge of a workshop, craft a vast number of items for sale, with the end game of mastering the three main crafts and, I don’t know – world domination?

Craftlands Workshoppe Early Access Review

Craftlands Workshoppe is part of the Shoppe Keep universe which I had previously never played nor heard of it. I’m sure they’re a great line-up of titles, but you need not play them before building up a healthy relationship with this game.

You have been left Allcraft’s workshop after he’s left a note behind and vacated the realm – no doubt because he had mastered all the crafts and had better things to do with his time. It’s always about the people left behind, and you’re tasked to re-opening of the shop and earn some dough.

Craftlands Workshoppe - Workshoppe
The workshoppe. Source: Steam

This means cleaning it all up then learning a craft, building up an inventory and flogging it. There are three crafts to master in Craftlands Workshoppe: alchemy, blacksmith and cookery, but you start with one. While each has its advantages, I opted with blacksmithing.

If you’re going to craft and sell items, you need a permit to do so. Once you obtain one from the Town Hall, you can start sourcing iron ingots and wood to make your items – in my case, on an anvil. Some of the goods only need the raw materials; other times you’ll have to buy recipes from another shop.

Time to Play Shoppes

Interestingly, you can’t buy a recipe and forever have the knowledge; if you want to keep building an item, you need to do so with the recipe each time, which is a little bit of a burden and all part of the management process. Still, as you make the items, you can sell them in your shop, earn more money for additional supplies or new gear.

Money isn’t everything, apparently, so other than getting into a production line and sitting on a pile of cash, you can invest in the other crafts, learn new recipes and buy your way to new areas. But it all gets a little overwhelming, and this is where you employ your staff.

As with construction, you need a permit to hire people, but that’s easy enough. What you can do is instruct them to make your items so you can then sell them on. 

To do so, you still need to supply them with the ingredients, but if you sell enough of one item, you get mastery on it, meaning your workers can build on your behalf. Of course, workers aren’t doing it for free, so you have a kitty to pay them from. Just don’t spend it all.

Mastering Your Craft

Aside from freeing up your time to pursue hobbies, reading a good book or getting some shuteye, when your workers build your item list, you can interact with other NPCs and be given sidequests.

Each time you complete a sidequest in Craftlands Workshoppe, you’ll gain experience and perhaps some money – some tasks are unlocked unless you reach the required level. Said XP comes from crafting and selling items, but you also get it from sourcing materials, albeit, it’s a slow process.

There are two aspects to pay attention to: your energy and time. Energy is steadily depleted throughout the day, but each action you take eats away at the energy bar, and you’ll be unable to do anything. For that reason, you sleep.

Craftlands Workshoppe - Production
Production line. Source: Steam

As for the other aspect, time is not on your side and whizzes past at a rapid rate even when you aren’t doing anything. There’s a steady flow of customers that arrive each day around 8 am and leave at 11 pm, so you have to open and close your shop in those times and try to complete other tasks around that.

All The Sharpness Rounded Off

I liked the visual style in Craftlands Workshoppe. By default, it has a blur filter added which I promptly removed, and despite the basic graphics, they looked incredibly sharp in a super hi-resolution. However, I had to lower the settings as the movement did start to splutter anywhere outside of the workshoppe.

The controls take a while to get used to, and there are a few options to play with that combines the mouse and keyboard. It doesn’t feel natural at first, but after experimentation, you can find your way. I have to say that the sound effects of the characters ‘mmmmming’ was irritating, but a trivial matter.

For any RPG crafting game, it takes a while to get in the full flow of production, and I relish in that element. It’s important to me to unlock everything when it comes to crafting menus, so taking my time mastering every possible item in the list was paramount. Despite the timer, Craftlands Workshoppe doesn’t feel rushed.

Additionally, the humour and the way it is presented through interactions and story elements is quirky, in a good way. Ignoring the NPC mutterings, the dialogue and engagement were witty, along with the eccentric characters and absurd inventory at your disposal.

Craftlands Workshoppe is the kind of game you can get lost in. On the surface, tasks are some of the most monotonous things to do, yet when you’re in the environment, it’s borderline therapeutic, and before you know it, you’re an integral part of the community.

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