Ever since I installed the demo last month, Potion Permit quickly became one of my most anticipated games. Now that it's out, I went and tried it out immediately. I got everything I asked for, and that's really much it. Read on for our review of Potion Permit, going through its gameplay and story, as well as the score we give it.

After much consideration, I feel like I've seen enough of the game and its story to write the full review for this game. As such, keep reading to see my full review of Potion Permit.

Potion Permit good points

The first thing I really loved about Potion Permit was the art style. These kinds of anime-like pixel graphics are a weakness of mine, so playing this game was a treat. The art made it easy on the eyes, and it was all-in-all very pretty. The world itself was pretty. At the moment of writing, I have access to three of the game's zones: the fields, the forest, and the mountains. These areas have actual names in the game, of course, but I just refer to them by their general appearance and location. All of these zones are sufficiently unique, and exploring them is fun.

Other than the graphics, the gameplay is very easy to play around with. The controls aren't confusing, and the game itself has controller support alongside a keyboard and mouse control scheme. Personally, I played using a controller, as it made more sense for me to use one. The gameplay loop of Potion Permit revolved around gathering materials, making potions, upgrading your equipment, and befriending the villagers. You will find yourself doing a combination of these throughout your journey in the game. Your first few days in the game teach you almost everything you need to know about playing the game. Everything else, you'll quickly pick up in your journey.

The gameplay of Potion permit has two major parts: exploration, and potion brewing. It's important to note, however, that this split is not a perfect 50/50. In my experience, you spend most of your time exploring compared to making potions. If I were to give it a number, you only spend around 30% of your time making potions. The rest is spent getting to know the villagers, and gathering materials. Materials come from plants and rocks found in the wilderness, as well as dropped by monsters when you kill them. Yes, there is combat in this game, unsurprisingly. Stardew Valley itself had some combat mechanics, so it's unsurprising that this game has it too. Combat involves you swinging your tools at the enemy until they die. You can also roll out of the way. so that their attacks miss.

Once you have gathered enough materials, you can then go back to town to brew your potions. Each of the potions you can make has recipes, but they're not what you think. Instead of a list of ingredients, the players are instead given a grid, with a set amount of blocks that must be filled. Each of the ingredients has a shape assigned to them, ranging from single blocks to a line piece similar to those in Tetris. Once you fill out the blocks, you will successfully brew your potion. Of course, some potions have item restrictions, so you will have to be creative for those.

Other than these, players can also get closer to the townsfolk. Like other farming games, you can give them gifts to increase how much they like you. However, Potion Permit does it differently. Instead of each villager having their own favorite gift, there is only one gift available, and everyone loves it. This makes it easier to increase your friendship with the villagers, allowing you to focus on other important things.

Potion Permit's story is also pretty nice. It has an easy-to-follow plot and makes it easy to get endeared to the characters. Its premise actually plays into one of my favorite kinds of stories. That is, rebuilding a relationship that was destroyed because of a catastrophic event. In Potion Permit, the Medical Association that your character is a part of is trying to rebuild its relationship with the town of Moonbury. This is after some chemists destroyed the environment. Throughout the game at well spaced intervals, the player discovers the locations where the devastation is the strongest, and helps in healing it.

As I did this, I learned more about the events of the past, either through journal pages found scattered around the map, or from the anecdotes from the townsfolk. It helped build the world, and it felt good seeing them slowly warm up to my character. The story is really well-paced, and is dependent on your progress. Thanks to this, the game doesn't really feel like it's forcing you progress through the story, but instead is giving you time to get well acquainted with it.

Potion Permit bad points

Admittedly, Potion Permit does a lot of things well. Sadly, that's really all there is to it. I love the game, but after playing it for around 3 hours, you've really experienced all there is to experience. Brewing potions, exploring, and healing the sick get old really fast when it's the only thing you do in the game. Sure, you can explore new areas on the map, but that's basically just another place to get ingredients from. It's really easy to get overwhelmed by everything you need to do in this game. During the early parts of the game, it was really easy to just empty out an area of its materials. Down the line, you run out of energy before you can even clear out half of the map.

There are also various bugs and design choices that I find somewhat questionable, like the map locking onto every building in the game while I try to select a fast travel station. While not really detrimental, it makes navigating the map take longer than it should. Some of the bugs are kinda irritating, though, like when the game decides to swing your tool in the total opposite direction of where you were aiming. This wastes stamina, which is very much limited, even with recovery food.

While I did say that Potion Permit knows the formula of similar games well, they didn't really do anything to set themselves apart. Sure, the potion gameplay was interesting, and it's a nice brain teaser. After a while, though, you just start aiming for efficiency in making potions, and the novelty of it disappears. Although Potion Permit's story and gameplay are nice, that's really it. Just, nice. I was looking forward to more from Potion Permit, but I think I might have set my expectations a bit too high. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed playing Potion Permit. It just so happened that it got very repetitive for me. There was not enough variety in the gameplay for me to get fully hooked into the game. Down the line, it just felt like I was forcing myself to play it.


Potion Permit Review Conclusion

To summarize, Potion Permit knows the formula of farming and life simulator games well. The developers have a clear understanding of how the game should go, and what can potentially attract new players. They were able to balance Potion Permit's gameplay and story, making them complement each other. However, thanks to the repetitiveness of the gameplay, and the lack of features that set it apart from other games, I can't see myself putting in more hours into this game.

Potion Permit Review Score: 7/10

If you want to try the game out, it is available on PCPS5, PS4, Xbox One and Series X|S, and Nintendo Switch.

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