Developer: MassHive Media
Reviewed For: Nintendo Switch
Also Available On: PC, PlayStation, Xbox
The Nintendo Switch is overrun with life simulators, and following the last Nintendo Direct, we can expect many more. I’m fine with that because we are entering a new golden age of comfy games that I don’t want to give up just yet. Potion Permit is one of the newest games in the genre and basically acts like a typical life sim with a dash of chemistry.
Potion Permit nails the introduction, having players enter a small town that is wary of chemists from the outside world. The player is hired by the town mayor whose daughter has fallen ill. Now, it’s up to the player to gather ingredients and save her. Of course, that is done rather quickly, and the game opens up from there. Players will live in this cozy town, where they can gather ingredients, fight monsters, befriend the townsfolk, and cure them of their illnesses.
The experience can easily be summarized as Stardew Valley or Story of Seasons with chemistry rather than farming. Most of what players are expecting is here. The colors are soft. The music is soothing. The style of graphics is simple but endearing. The characters are diverse, but mostly variations of archetypes that we have seen before. Veterans of the genre will be excited to get out there and live their life, make friends, and get married.
The social aspect of Potion Permit is almost overly simplified. The villager doesn’t have likes or dislikes. To increase friendship, players chat with them, cure them of diseases, and give everyone the exact same item. This item is a commodity in the village, and it’s the only way to get especially close to someone. This isn’t going to be an issue for everyone, but it does take out a lot of depth. Finding out likes and dislikes through trial and error is a fun way to get to know villagers outside of dialogue, so it is sad that that is missing here.
The chemistry is fine enough. When someone is sick, the player will diagnose the patient through a small rhythm minigame. They will then make medicine by using ingredients they have via a puzzle minigame. Players will need to fill a large space with smaller pieces. Every ingredient makes a different shape, encouraging players to collect tons of ingredients to give themselves opportunities to solve the puzzles efficiently. It’s not crazy difficult or deep, but it is an enjoyable mechanic that is mostly unique to Potion Permit outside of the Atelier series.
While the gameplay isn’t especially deep, the characters are surprisingly interesting. Most of them fit cliches, but there is plenty to learn, and they are almost all quite charming. This is great since players can fall for and marry three bachelorettes and three bachelors. All of them happen to be bi too, allowing for anyone to love (Almost) anyone! Unfortunately, there isn’t much variety in the candidates, and it would have been nice for there to be a few more options. Maybe an update can let us romance the silver-haired arcade lady or red-haired blacksmith with muscles.
Outside of chemistry and romance, players can fight monsters in a simple combat exercise that only exists to gather their materials. Players can also harvest plants and other resources by chopping wood or breaking rocks. Players can upgrade their tools, and building trust with villagers will give the player access to more areas with better loot. It’s nothing that we haven’t seen before, but it works and successfully takes up the player’s time as they decide to do “Just one more day.”
It’s not a deep experience, but Potion Permit is an endearing game. It does just enough to right to hang with the best in the genre while giving a few new twists to make it unique in the busy crowd. Fans of the genre will want to check this one out.
- Chemistry is fun
- Successfully latches onto the player
- Suffers from a slow start
- A little more hollow than its peers