Arnold Rauers is an Android game developer specialized in designing card games with out-of-the-box gameplays. Card Thief and Card Crawl offer examples of his two trademarks: interesting game systems and delightful graphics. Carrying on in this direction, he’s just released – again under his label TiNYTOUCHTALES – the title Miracle Merchant, where you have to manage a potions shop and mix up the concoctions requested by your customers using four-card combos. It’s still hard to believe that such a simple premise can pack so much fun.
The graphics alone draw you straight in, what with their more than marked resemblance to the aesthetic of Adventure Time, but the best bit comes after you scratch the surface. The premise of the game is that you’ve got four decks of card, each a different color (and a fifth one randomly shuffled through all of them). One client will ask you to mix potions with a set color and will be particularly pleased when you use certain ingredients. You’ve got to lay four cards down to meet his requirements, but things really get shaken up when you realize that the final result influences both the card position as well as the adjacent cards.
To complete an entire round you’ve got to spend all the cards from the four decks of 12, taking care not to use up ones that you’ll need to carry out potion orders later on. Still, there’s an option to skip a client occasionally if you think you won’t be able to deliver the potion they asked you for.
Full disclosure: the free version of the game is not complete by a long shot and only lets you play 10 games, not to mention that some of the game modes and progression systems are restricted. But I urge you to give the game a proper shot and fork out the two bucks that it costs to unlock the rest (which, by the way, has no banners or ads of any kind garnishing the menus). Sometimes you’ve just got to let yourself get carried away by the alchemy.