Normally, when I get an email from a game dev asking me to review their game, I decline the offer. Frankly, a lot of the offers I get aren’t my kind of thing. But somehow, Booze Masters: Freezing Moonshine caught my attention. There was just something odd enough about it that pulled me in. Seeing as the developer of this game, Asmodev, is also responsible for Priest Simulator, I kind of expected this.

You play as streamer Quella. Somehow, she ends up at the La Sorpresa Motel. It’s a cold winter night, and for the most part, the motel is abandoned, albeit for a few quirky residents. The motel is owned by the cold-hearted, narcissistic snowman Zero Karoten. He’ll allow you to stay – so long as you make the world’s coldest vodka for him.

What’s for dinner? Snow. Want your car to get hijacked? Want the 5G tower to get destroyed so you don’t have Internet? Or your motel room get wrecked? That’s some of the things you’ll experience in this story. Along the way you’ll have to work with Doctor Professor, who, while a genius at heart, is a bit of a drunk. He’ll make some gadgets to assist with your ingredient-hunting to make different vodka recipes. You’ll also work with Jerry, who has made his own distillery unit right in the motel. He’ll teach you the ropes as far as how to make moonshine.

Farming Crops in the Winter

Set in first-person, your goal is to explore the area surrounding the motel and plant crops. Yup, even in the dead middle of winter, the strange properties of the fertile soil allow the crops to grow at an alarmingly fast rate. Dig up corn, apples, strawberries, oats, barley, you name it – and plant them in the appropriate locations on the map. After a few seconds, the crop becomes fertile, and you can harvest its contents. You’ll create quite a number of farms in the game, each in a separate location, and Doctor Professor will come up with Time Travel so you can easily get to and from the motel.

Booze Masters – farming

Make Moonshine

After you’ve harvested a number of crops, you can make moonshine back at the motel. Select a recipe from the whiteboard, and it will tell you how many ingredients you need to make whatever spirit you wish to make. Crack open the grinder, put the ingredients in, close it, and crank the handle to start the crushing process. Grab the bottle, put it in the fermenter station, add yeast and whatever else the whiteboard tells you to add, and start the fermenter process. Keep the needle in the right temperature zone – the needle will go down, and you can bring it back up by holding the right trigger. It will take a few times to get used to how this works.

Next, put the bottle in the distillation unit. Watch the distillation process. Sometimes there will be a leak somewhere along the pipeline. Just walk over to it and smack it with your hammer to seal the leak. Finally, when the distillation process is done, grab the bottle, put it in the appropriate machine, line your glass bottles up, and fill them up with your cold-off-the-press hard liquor. If you screw up along the way, or put the wrong ingredients in, you’ll have to drain the liquid out and start over.

Booze Masters – recipe whiteboard

Congrats. You now have a basic knowledge of how making moonshine works.

Drinking Has Its Benefits

But making vodka isn’t just for the benefit of the motel owner. Once Quella crafts a new recipe and she drinks it, she will be able to explore more parts of the map. No, I’m not kidding you – some parts of the map will be semi-invisible, such as a cliff. After Quella drinks the appropriate recipe, this “invisible” cliff will now be solid, and she can step onto it. This will allow her to reach areas that she previously couldn’t. Such is the benefit of drinking the world’s coldest vodka, I suppose.

Scattered along the map are these little electronic gadgets called “doodads” and “mega doodads”. Collecting enough doodads will allow Quella to upgrade her “farm” by unlocking more recipes, and new crops will be able to be harvested. Mega doodads, although much rarer, will allow her to upgrade the distillery. For example, she can upgrade the grinder, allowing her to crank more crushed content at a faster rate, or upgrade the distillation unit, making leaks occur less often.

Booze Masters – melting ice with flamethrower

Overall, the progression of the game is pretty smooth. It’s actually fun to play because you’re always incentivised to upgrade the farm, increase the rate at which crops grow, and find out more regarding the mysterious lore of the quirky inhabitants of the La Sorpresa. Later on you’ll be able to make use of drones, which will make farming even easier and faster for you.

Flaws

There are some QoL improvements that could have been made to make the experience a little better. Take, for example, the in-game cutscenes. None of the characters have any facial expressions that change as they talk. It’s just this neutral face that doesn’t change at all. Having the characters’ facial expressions adjust depending on their mood would have made the cutscenes more surreal.

While I don’t want to go accusing the developers of using AI for the character voiceovers, that’s almost kind of what their voices sound like. Their tone doesn’t change at all, mostly sounding flat during conversations. For example, when Jerry spots a leak in the distillation unit, he should exclaim, “Seal the leak!” and not “Seal the leak.” as if leaks were nothing new to him. Don’t get me wrong; I did get an occasional chuckle here and there with the strange personality of the characters and their quirky sense of humor. But the audience would get even more laughs had the voice-acting been given a little more “oomph”.

You’re gonna be crafting recipes quite often with the distillery. Jerry will show you the ropes and explain what you need to do. However, he won’t shut up after doing the same process for the dozenth time.

Booze Masters – distillation unit

“Put the plants in the crusher, close the lid, and turn the crank to start grinding.”

“Transfer the contents of the crusher to the barrel, or keep cranking.”

“Lift the barrel to proceed to the next step.”

“Place the barrel on the fermentation station.”

“Add yeast and the remaining ingredients, then start the fermenter seeder.”

“Monitor the optimal temperature of the process.” “Too hot!” “Too cold!”

“Lift the barrel.”

“Place the barrel into the distillation unit.”

“Watch the distillation process. Beware of leaks.”

“Seal the leak.” (Without the emphasis.)

“Lift the barrel.”

“Place the barrel in the bottling machine.”

“Put the empty bottles in the bottling machine, and pour moonshine into them.”

“Congratulations. You’ve managed to distill moonshine.” (Again, without emphasis.)

Lift the barrel. I feel like I could make a meme out of that phrase now. I also just made your life more annoying now, because I personally have reminded you Jerry’s spiel, word-for-word, by heart. Maybe we should change “lift the barrel” to “Do a barrel roll!”

Quella is a streamer. During the first few hours of gameplay, she’ll show her audience what she’s doing. As the game progresses, however, she becomes more distant to those who are watching her stream, and they become less important to her. She doesn’t talk to her audience much, if at all. Why she does this, the game doesn’t explain, but the gradual process of paying less and less attention to her stream, even though more and more people watch the further the game progresses, just takes the “streaming” aspect of this game away.

Booze Masters – chipping away at ice with a pickaxe

No Steam cloud support. Come on, people. Gamers are likely to have more than one gaming device lying around, and it’s a royal pain having to manually transfer saves, or use the Decky Cloud Save plugin, when you’re playing from one device to another.

Want to adjust the music volume? Too bad. You can’t. That Christmas-y background music that plays later on in the game? You can’t shut that off. Turning the “Music” all the way down to 0 in the in-game options doesn’t do anything.

Finally, there’s an issue I came across later on in the game. I won’t get into details about it to avoid spoilers, but I feel like I’ve basically come across a softlock. There’s a picture that I’m supposed to take, but I don’t know specifically where to take it. The game does a terrible job trying to point where I need to take the photo. I’ve taken countless photos and nothing happened. If I don’t get the right angle, I literally can’t progress in the game. I’ve tried emailing the developer about this a few days ago, and haven’t heard back. I guess I’m just going to have to wait for someone to upload a complete walkthrough of the game so I can finally figure out where I need to take the photo.

Steam Deck Compatibility

The game is surprisingly demanding. First, you’re going to want to turn the graphics preset down to Medium, then set the resolution to 1024 x 576, or around there. Without adjusting the TDP limit or GPU clock speed, the game hovers around 45-60 FPS, depending on where Quella is in the game and what she’s doing.

Booze Masters on Steam Deck - 40 FPS profile

For a 40 FPS profile, you can set the TDP limit to 7-8 W, and the max GPU clock speed to 600-700 MHz.

Not That Bad of a Game

Outside of the emotionless, toneless expressions of the characters, Booze Masters: Freezing Moonshine isn’t that bad of a game. There’s lots of plants to crop, a lot of upgrades to make the farming and distillation process easier, many recipes to craft, and a story that is at least somewhat interesting to learn more about. Even though there’s no inflection in the characters’ voices, the characters themselves and what they say are quirky enough to give you at most a light laugh or two.

If the dev gets back to me or I watch a walkthrough where I can finally get through the “softlock”, I would still be interested enough to play the game through its entirety. I can ignore that “lift the barrel” Jerry constantly says while I make moonshine and learn more about the quirky characters.

TL;DR

The good:

  • quirky characters with quirky personalities, that will occasionally make you laugh
  • plenty to do in the game, plenty of exploring, plenty to upgrade, plenty of recipes to craft; the game keeps pulling you in for more
  • if it’s considered a perk, I guess you’ll get a basic grasp of how the making of moonshine works

The not-so-good:

  • monotonous voice acting
  • characters have absolutely no facial expressions during cutscenes
  • no Steam cloud support
  • music volume can’t be adjusted
  • Jerry’s repetitive spiel on how to make moonshine should be toned down
  • you may experience a softlock later on in the game, and the game won’t really help you out

Booze Masters: Freezing Moonshine is available on Steam, GOG, and EGS for $15. On Steam and GOG the game is on sale for a week for 15% off.

Review key provided by PressEngine.

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