Brew or Die
It is every alchemist's dream to discover the Elixir of Life, that mystical brew which grants its drinker eternal youth. But in Tim Ned Atton's Brew or Die, the King has decreed that you should be achieving your dreams quite a bit sooner than you had initially expected. Now, just as the full moon begins to peek into your window, he has locked you in your alchemy tower, with only a surly guard and a contingent of rats for company. You have until the break of dawn to successfully discover (and concoct) this legendary potion. The king has left you but a few tools of your trade to work with: Leftover potions, the remnants of failed experiments. Tea leaves, for analyzing brews. Various metals, for transmuting potions. And of course your great alchemical reference tome, full of tips and recipes. Succeed in creating the elixir, and you will have your freedom. Brew or Die is one of those puzzle games where the thrill of discovery is easily one of the best parts of it, such that spoiling too much about it would ruin part of the fun. Fail the moody king, however, and the gallows await.
The game puts you in the shoes of what is essentially a medieval mad scientist, and in order to succeed, you'll have to think like a scientist yourself. Randomly mixing potions will only get you so far. This is a game that asks you to hypothesize, to observe, to take notes, and to make use of everything in your surroundings to figure out how it works, and what you need to be doing. And you've got to do it on a time limit, too! The game randomizes certain elements on every playthrough, and there's no save function, which can make the challenge feel overwhelming at times. As a small concession, you can choose to play again with the same variables when you get a game over, so you don't have to "relearn" everything. And since there's only one way to "win", and many, many unique ways to lose, you'll probably end up experimenting across several playthroughs before discovering the Elixir. It's not a simple process. But the "lightbulb" moments are incredibly satisfying, and the atmosphere the game concocts is rich and fantastic despite its low-rez graphics. Even the bad ends are creative and entertaining enough to be worth seeking out. Brew or Die is a challenging game that asks the player to drink deeply from it. Why not take a sip and see what happens?