Early this year, publisher Whitethorn Games held a showcase highlighting a litany of indies calling my name. Among them were anticipated favorites like Botany Manor — the preview for which you can read here — and Mythwrecked: Ambrosia Island.
But this event also debuted a game I’ve had my eye on ever since: Magical Delicacy. And though the team has been quiet for months, I recently got a chance to go hands-on with the witch-led cooking adventure, and I can’t wait for the full release.
Our heroine, the witch Flora, is now twenty-one. Having heard from a traveller of a town to the south that might accept her, unlike her harsh northern homeland, she sets sail to find the city of Grat and start a new life. Gulls call as I step off the ship onto the wooden planks of my new home’s docks. The pixel graphics glow with comfort and suggest a breeze blowing over the water.
The first resident I run into is.. a talking frog? The creature seems to have been informed of my arrival, which is odd considering I had set out to this new place with no connections. My green companion seems to be in a powerful position in the city, as he offers me exactly what I want — I small shop. Keys in hand and promises to pay some undisclosed amount of rent in the future given, I head in.
Unfortunately, the first thing I see is a squatter. About my age, or maybe younger, the woman informs me she’s living here, though will consider letting me stay if I brew her up some soup. It’s a good thing she didn’t want anything else, because my kitchen appliances are limited at the moment. Though the shop has plenty of open floor space, the only implements in the structure right now are a sink — which provides water — and a stovetop.
The cooking mechanics are a little more in-depth than I was expecting, but it gives me a lot of options. I have a number of ingredients in my pack, and each have three major categories attached to them. First is a type, like vegetable, heb, or fruit. Next, the ingredient has a taste group, such as savory or sweet. Last is the item’s rarity, which doesn’t seem to matter much for cooking but does come into play later as I try to sell things.
Careful to choose the ingredients for a nice northern stew that won’t offend the delicate palate of my strange new roomate, I throw water into a pot on the stove, hit a button at the right time, and wait a few seconds for the concoction to simmer. It seems to be a hit. I’m not only allowed to stay, but am given instructions to go spread the word amongst the townsfolk of my new shop.
One thing I was not expecting in this enchanting life sim was platforming. But as I step out into the town, I realize the city’s layout is set up like a Metroidvania — complete with constantly moving elevators, crumbling floors, and places I need a new ability to get to.
Jumping and dashing my way through town, I locate a herbalist, a baker, a book-seller, and a blacksmith. All of these merchants become important for my new business. The herbalist teaches me how to harvest wild plants and how to grow things in my backyard. The baker has all-new ingredients for me to use. The book-seller just happens to have a number of interesting recipes on hand. And the blacksmith sells me much-needed equipment for my kitchen.
I don’t know where I manage to stuff all these things in order to bring them home, but once I step into the shop, I get a pop-up explaining how to transform the barren floor with my newly-purchased modules. I don’t get to decorate anything — though I can see the option in my shop’s blueprint area — but I do set up a space for my chopping board and mortar and pestle. These stations open up new worlds of culinary possibilities.
After delivering food to various members of the community, I’m able to make my way to a new part of town. I’m immediately confronted by a crow-loving individual who interrogates me on the whereabout of another witch. Since I have no idea who that is, they soon go away. But then I stumble right onto the wanted magical person in question and am drawn into a shady enterprise. The plot has thickened and I gain a new double jump out of the deal. Sadly, this is where my demo ends.
The story cliffhanger whets my appetite to watch the narrative unfold and I can’t wait to grow the small successes with my shop into greater prosperity. On top of all that, I know there are so many more places to explore in the platforming town. Magical Delicacy is set to release next year, though it doesn’t have a more narrow window than that. However, I’ll be keeping an eye out for more news on this one.