I feel slightly bad calling someone’s hard work “kinda pointless” but sometimes you have to call a spade a spade. And evidently the developers agreed because they never bothered to release an actual game. A trial version of Densetsu no Kusuriyasan is all that has existed for the past 12 years.
Densetsu no Kusuriyasan (でんせつのくすりやさん, lit. The Legendary Pharmacist) would have been an R18+ otome and crafting game hybrid that would have been released by Japanese indie developer Mix Factor in 2012 but never made it past the (thankfully) worksafe demo stage. Normally this would sadden me a little bit, seeing as I love crafting games and I (think) love otome games but the resulting game would have been too adult for me to play anyway. Also the demo sucked. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s take this in proper order.
Mimosa is an apprentice pharmacist who chafes at the slow pace of her training and longs to apply her skills to the real world. She runs away from home and becomes the resident medicine woman in a small village. When our story begins, her grandmother has just tracked her down and is about to take her back. Luckily the village chief strikes a deal with granny allowing Mimosa to stay and work for just one more year. What’s more, if Mimosa can craft the highest level medicines in a book her grandma gives her within that year, she will become a full-fledged pharmacist and be free of her arduous training forever. With nothing to lose, Mimosa agrees to give it her best shot and so the game begins.
The game menu (and your depressingly dark studio):
Mimosa can take one action on weekdays and Saturdays and two actions on Sundays. Somehow she has to balance studying to learn new recipes with making medicines to raise her level with going out to forage for ingredients with visiting guys in their rooms, all within that extremely limited schedule.
The worst part is the medicine synthesis because every drug no matter how basic takes a full action to make. Way to take all the fun out of what should be the most enjoyable part of the game. Crafting is disappointing in other ways as well. For one, there are no icons or pictures of any of the ingredients or finished products, and yet all the flavor text is dry and pedestrian.
For another thing, there’s no in-story demand for any of the medicines you make. You only make them as a way to grind out your pharmacist level so you can unlock more recipes so you can grind your level even higher and round and round it goes. It’s possible that Mix Factor would have eventually added quests and story events that called for Mimosa’s medical skills instead of leaving crafting as “That thing you have to do if you want to finish the game.”
As Mimosa studies and forages and levels up, her stats rise and fall dramatically.
This is something that would have needed serious tweaking in the final game, because certain stat growths tend to cancel each other out. Study once and, for example, your intelligence goes up +6, physical strength goes down -3. Then you go foraging once and Strength up +6, intelligence -3. Not quite cancelled out… unless you choose to study or forage twice in a row, then you’re back to square one. Fine then, I’ll alternate studying and foraging every day, you say. But that’s useless because you don’t need to forage that much. Forcing yourself would just be pointless busywork to preserve your stats at the expense of a fun game experience. Oh and, btw, you’re never told what each stat actually does… Or if any stat actually does anything at all… Pointless, I tell you.
The other thing you can do with your time is visit one of the game’s four eligible bachelors. There’s Kai the chief’s son who likes to tease you but isn’t a bad sort. Then Rosmarinus or whatever his name is is a sickly noble who recently moved to the village. Arty is a lively adventurer who also just moved in and Lou is a live-in helper your grandmother assigned to do your housework.
Since Densetsu no Kusuriyasan was going to be an adult game, Mimosa probably would have gotten up to all kinds of ungentlemanly activities with these fine fellows. Since this is the clean demo, however, all you ever do is talk and drink tea together. It doesn’t even say what you talked about, just that you talked. You can also give them medicines you’ve made as presents. There’s no way of checking affection and repeated conversations produced diddly squat by way of special event. No events, no CGs, no dates, no nothing. …Pointless.
The demo ends after a month of play, by which point very little has happened. Mimosa will have raised her pointless stats a bit and increased her pointless level once or twice and made some pointless medicines and had pointless conversations with a few guys. And the gamer will heave a sigh of relief as she chucks the game into the Recycle Bin and wishes she had just played Solitaire instead.
Densetsu no Kusuriyasan is a well-meaning game, I suppose. The more “cute girls doing alchemy” games we have, the better. The premise is serviceable too and I liked all the guys well enough. I could easily do all their routes in a better game. That’s the thing, though: there are better games out there. Otome games are a dime a dozen even on the indie circuit. And thanks to Gust and Cyberfront I have unreasonably high expectations of “cute girls crafting” games.
It’s not like Densetsu no Kusuriyasan couldn’t have been salvaged, but it would have required an extensive overhaul of everything from the graphics to the crafting system to the relationship and stat-raising systems. Most likely Mix Factor run a few numbers and realized that putting in so much effort for an R18 game was, yes you guessed it… pointless. They pulled the plug and nothing of any value was lost.
IIRC I have one or two more indie otome + alchemy games to try but that will have to come much later. Right now I’m knee-deep in 7th Dragon III: Code VFD. They’re doing that thing I hated about 7th Dragon 2020 where the navigator just wouldn’t shut up and every 5 minutes or so I’d be summoned back to headquarters for a useless meeting. I play videogames to get away from real life, thank you very much.
I’m also looking to start another otome game soon, either Angelique Etoile or one of the Harukanaru games. I haven’t played a good otome in ages. And I just rediscovered a note to myself where I meant to play Princess Maker 3 soon. Ehhhh… okay. Soon. That gives me a full plate in February going into March then I’ll make more plans if we’re all still alive.