Steam says I've put in 13 hours with this game so far, and I love it, as I loved the original one. Anyone who loved Eye of the Beholder and similar games will love this. It's more or less a perfected version of that formula. Maybe they'll try to make something more like the first Lands of Lore next, with more focus on story? That'd be nice.
I also didn't have a guy in the party that could create heal potions. And it worked fine. There were plenty of healing potions around or the save crystals were not too far away if needed. I recently put a point in alchemy just so I could start getting rid of all the components I was picking up.
A dedicated alchemist can create more powerful potions than the ones I've found so far, without using any more ingredients than regular potions. I've got enough ingredients to make over 30 greater healing potions at the moment. Also, alchemists can, at max level (or so I believe) create potions that give permanent stat boosts. A character with the alchemist class can create more of these than a regular character who picks up that skill, as the alchemist will actually have the incredibly rare ingredients duplicate in his inventory as long as he doesn't use them right away.