I think it’s only appropriate that us, a site called Use a Potion, should review a game called Potion Permit. In fact, we should have got a licensing deal sorted out somewhere… maybe we need to make some calls?
Jokes aside, there’s something about Potion Permit that hooked me in from the get-go. I’m a big fan of these cosy little adventures where you spend your time establishing yourself in a village forming new relationships, exploring to gather resources, and then crafting a variety of goodies, and this ticks all of those boxes perfectly.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Potion Permit sees players moving from the busy life in the city to the humble town of Moonbury, where you hope to set up shop as a chemist. Unfortunately, Moonbury has had an unsavoury history with chemists, so its residents aren’t too happy about your arrival. However, the mayor wants you to stay after helping heal his ill daughter, so you have one very important voice fighting your corner. Thus, your new start in Moonbury begins, with players not only having to work to ensure their business thrives but also win over their wary neighbours (and maybe even find love along the way).
The core gameplay loop of Potion Permit revolves around crafting, with players having to head out into the wilderness to gather the ingredients required to concoct their medicinal potions. Much like titles such as Stardew Valley, you’ll have plenty of different tools at your disposal to harvest the varied types of resources and minerals in the wild, whilst you’ll also have limited stamina to work with.
What makes potion crafting so interesting in the game is that it doesn’t follow a conventional method. You won’t be putting together specific ingredients or desperately seeking that ONE item you need when crafting, but instead completing small puzzles that involves filling blank-shape-spaces with different shaped tiles. Each ingredient in your inventory represents a different shape and you’ve got to carefully piece them together to concoct each potion. It’s like a cool blend of crafting and Tetris, with some clever tinkering required to devise every potion you need. It made the whole crafting process all the more rewarding, whilst having to work with a specific amount of ingredients means you’ve got to get your thinking cap on to succeed. I’ve played plenty of games in the past where crafting can become a formulaic drag, but Potion Permit keeps it interesting throughout.
“It’s like a cool blend of crafting and Tetris, with some clever tinkering required to devise every potion you need. “
You’re also tasked with identifying the ailments that Moonbury’s residents have, with players having to complete a small mini-game each time to get to the bottom of the problem. It feels a lot more involving than simply having to give them the medicine that they ask for and ensures that the job of being a chemist in Potion Permit never feels too repetitive. Between that and brewing potions, it’s clear that the game has introduced plenty of its own unique ideas to ensure it doesn’t feel like just another life sim.
That being said, there are some aspects of the gameplay that will feel very familiar. You’ll have to build up friendships with folk by interacting with them, giving them gifts, and completing quests for them, for example, whilst you’re also able to improve your clinic with different upgrades. It’s even possible to go fishing, or even take on a side job with the Post Office packing boxes, at the Police Station sorting ink bottles, or at the Church mashing up grapes. Each of these involves small mini-games to complete that don’t feel particularly complex, but still offer a neat means of earning a bit of extra cash.
As you progress through the game, you’ll open up new areas to explore, which bring with them fresh sights to see, different ingredients to gather, and an array of new creatures to take down. What, you thought you could go exploring risk-free? Whilst Potion Permit does have combat, it doesn’t feel especially complex – you just use your tools (a hammer, a sickle, and an axe) to mash out attacks and that’s it. Whilst the different creatures you face off against do bring varying attacks to be wary of and the tools do offer different styles of attack, combat never really feels deep; I just felt like I was button-mashing and moving out of the way when required. It does its job of adding a bit of danger to the game, but it doesn’t make Potion Permit feel like an action-orientated experience.
Check out some screenshots down below:
Fortunately, the areas the game has prioritised such as harvesting, crafting, and building a life in Moonbury do feel fleshed out enough to remain fun and interesting for hours on end, so it’s not a big deal. There’s an enjoyable sense of progress to the experience and you’ll certainly find yourself getting better at making potions and even feeling more welcome in the town. Potion Permit is a real looker too, with some charming and detailed pixel art on show throughout that ensures the world feels vibrant and nice to be a part of. It’s a REALLY pretty game and feels like a step above similar titles with its art style. It also runs pretty well on the Nintendo Switch, and whilst I did have a few little frame rate stutters throughout gameplay, there was never anything REALLY noticeable or that affected my experience too much.
Potion Permit Review
Potion Permit is a charming crafting-adventure that manages to feel unique thanks to its clever potion-concocting puzzling. It made sure that crafting in the game never felt too formulaic, whilst the lovely visuals ensured heading out into the wild to gather ingredients never felt dull. The life-sim aspects are equally charming, even IF the Moonbury residents can be a little cold to you to begin with…
It’s just a lovely game to play and one that I had a whole lot of fun with. Whilst there’s no denying that the combat feels dull and that there are a few little technical hiccups with the frame rate here and there, everything else in Potion Permit feels top notch and ensures your time playing chemist is well spent.
Developer: MassHive Media
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PC