Time management games are overflowing with career opportunities.
You can run a chocolate factory, own a real estate empire, wait tables in a diner, make cakes from your line of successful bakeries, and take on the corporations from your burgeoning smoothie stand in your local park. Yet the magical setting of Mystic Emporium feels like a better fit than most.
That's partly because time management games have to call on a bit of magic themselves. The gameplay cast from one title to the next is basically the same, but each title manages to come out different nonetheless.
It's slightly ironic, then, that despite sparkling with promise Mystic Emporium brings nothing new to the table: every single element of play here has been overtly lifted from one of its rivals.Sub-order of the phoenix
This is a game that feels like the sum of its parts and nothing more. The magic is most certainly missing from what's on offer here, despite full-on faults being few and far between. On the upside, that means most who take on its challenge will feel at home from the get-go.
The premise has you running a magic shop, the bulk of your work focusing on crafting spells in the cauldron for a line of customers eager to spend their cash. In very basic terms, this means taking orders, assembling ingredients, cooking them in the cauldron, and then pocketing the money when you hand over the goods - all handled via a simple tap on each item in question.
Mystic Emporium also includes the handy queue system recently seen in Cake Mania: Celebrity Chef and the like, allowing you to tap future actions to carry out in advance.Spice of life
As you make more and more money, you're able to purchase upgrades that increase your capacity to make potions, the amount of customers and different types of orders in turn ramping up as the levels whiz by.
Mystic Emporium conjures variety with plenty of different spells to create, customers to please, and various side projects to tackle. A plant that needs regular feeding fills the need for an interesting diversion, for instance.
There's also a match-three mini-games that fans of Chocolate Shop Frenzy might also recognise, although the game adds a Tetris-like spin to proceedings, the idea being to clear the board before the blocks reach the top of the screen.Boiling over
This constant borrowing from other franchises makes Mystic Emporium feel all the more mundane. There's simply no excuse for failing to add anything of substance to a set-up that's already been mastered by others so many times.
Even the layout appears to have been taken in almost exact form from competing titles. By simply copying all that's gone before, it reveals itself to be a superfluous rehash of the magic already mastered by its rivals.