The legendary Allcraft, master of…well, all the crafts…has suddenly shut down his workshop and disappeared. Who’s responsible for getting it up and running again? You, a virtual nobody. Why were you chosen? That’s up to you to find out! Master the three crafts of Blacksmithing, Cooking and Alchemy, sell your goods, automate your crafting processes to expand your empire, and gradually become a contributing member of society on the charming string of islands where you make your home. You can even use the asynchronous multiplayer function to team up with other workshops and fulfill much larger orders than you could on your own!
Craftlands Workshoppe is, as its name suggests, a crafting simulator, although there are plenty of management simulator and even a few daily life elements as well. Start by choosing one of the three crafts to master, then gradually add the other two to your repertoire as you follow in the footsteps of the great Allcraft. Developed by the minds behind the Shoppe Keep series, the game technically takes place in the same universe, but you do not have to have played any Shoppe Keep titles to enjoy Craftlands.
As with any game which features crafting as its core mechanic, there is one element of gameplay which is utterly unavoidable: grinding. Craftlands Workshoppe is very up front about the fact that a bit of a grinding cycle is required, as you must obtain materials, produce items and then sell them. While the grind can be broken up by completing quests and tasks given by NPCs living around the islands, the core gameplay loop is fairly unchanging. There is also somewhat of an overarching story, in which you learn just a few of the many secrets which your island home contains.
Does that mean that I found Craftlands Workshoppe boring or unsatisfying to play? Not at all! The decision to include three core crafting types was a good one, as it means that not all crafting you will do throughout the game will be exactly the same. There are even a few other mechanics, such as farming or fishing, although none of them are quite as enjoyable as the base three. Plus, once you get enough money, you can hire works and automate your process, freeing up your player character’s day to pursue other tasks or even simply explore the world around you and interact with NPCs. But with the day and night cycle, you might want to keep an eye on the clock even once you’ve got your processes mostly automated, because workers can get tired or gain other negative conditions.
Pretty much my only complaint with Craftlands Workshoppe is that the economy is, at this point in time, fairly unbalanced. Workers’ wages can be extremely difficult to afford, even once you’ve gotten a bit of money to your name. There were a number of times when I felt “stuck” and unable to expand my workforce even though I desperately needed to, simply because the money was not there. A few key crafting materials are also rather expensive given how frequently they must be purchased, which can get frustrating as the game goes on. It took me several hours of gameplay before I ever reached a point where I was comfortably able to save even just a little bit of money.
One other thing to keep in mind is that Craftlands Workshoppe is still very much an Early Access game. While the team is incredibly dedicated and are constantly releasing new updates and patches, it is possible that players might still encounter some bugs in the process. Shortly after I first started playing the game, I had difficulty moving around the island outside of my workshop, as movement would be slow and laggy, stuttering and sometimes coming to a complete stop. While this has mostly been fixed, it was extremely frustrating for a while, as I felt I was not able to appreciate the game’s charming world to the fullest because I had to play with such low resolution.
However, Craftlands Workshoppe is overall an extremely charming experience with a fun setting and a nice variety of things to do. Fans of other similar titles (such as the Harvest Moon / Story of Seasons franchise, Stardew Valley or My Time at Portia) will find a worthy addition to their game library in Craftlands Workshoppe. If crafting games aren’t your style, then this game is probably not for you, as it is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin. It might not be a game which attracts a lot of newbies to the genre, but it will please existing fans who are looking for a new crafting simulator which they have not yet played. It’s certainly a title you can sink several hours to – personally, I lost track of time more than once while playing, and I’m sure many others have as well!