Title: Potato Flowers in Full Bloom
Developer: Pon Pon Games
Release Date: March 10, 2022
Reviewed On: Switch
Genre: Adventure RPG
Believe it or not, potatoes actually are capable of blooming flowers, but that still doesn’t explain the strange title of this dungeon RPG. Potato Flowers in Full Bloom is a pretty minimalist style of dungeon crawler that resembles some of the indie JRPG efforts we saw on the Nintendo 3DS back in the day. It’s out for PC too, but it feels right at home on the Nintendo Switch eShop.
Fine, so there is some meaning behind the game’s title, as the basic premise involves a trio of heroes venturing into a dungeon labyrinth as they try to find special seeds created by the hands of alchemists. These seeds aren’t exactly magic beans, but they are capable of growing under less-than-ideal conditions, even when planted on contaminated soil.
In this setting, our heroes come from a world that is polluted to the point where the soil simply can’t grow anything, except for these elusive special seeds. So the quest is simple: traverse the darkest depths of the dungeons to retrieve the seeds and give their community some chance of growing food, all while dealing with plenty of traps and foes along the way.
It’s a pretty simple and straightforward narrative, and fits nicely with the minimalism of it all. The graphical style uses clunky 3D polygons to create a weirdly charming vibe, with the music being the strongest part of the presentation. The soft aesthetics and warm colors do come together nicely, especially with some of the monster designs.
You create your custom party after the prologue tutorial, and there are all the essential classes to choose from. You’ll definitely want to balance it out by having a combat-heavy character upfront and more ranged characters at the back. You don’t start with much, but your party will level up and find better equipment in no time. Equipment upgrades and even the skill tree systems are pretty straightforward too, and this helps with the flow of the experience.
Potato Flowers in Full Bloom features traditional first-person exploration with thankfully no random encounters. A big part of the exploration is the environmental puzzles, and these can be quite satisfying to figure out. Along the way, you encounter NPCs to assist and some helpful tradespersons too. What’s cool about the dungeon crawling is how thoughtfully the maps are designed, as more often than not, you’ll be able to uncover shortcuts that can bring you back to your main camp to recover.
The turn-based combat tends to follow genre conventions, but the game tries a few things to make battles a little more engaging. The key here is to read icons, as these will tell you what enemies are planning on their next turn, and so it’s just a matter of reacting and planning accordingly, a lot of which involves guarding and/or dodging incoming enemy attacks as indicated by their hit rate percentage.
Now, it’s not as simple as just planning for the next enemy turn. Aside from keeping an eye on your health and magic, each action uses up your skill stamina, indicated by the green gauge. This means that at opportune times, it’s important to rest up and replenish your skill stamina; otherwise, you can’t perform any actions.
This lends to an enjoyable combat experience, and the challenge really ramps up during boss encounters. As much as there is planning involved, sometimes there is an element of luck as you may have the boss focus on the right party members or even expend their skill stamina too quickly. Although it’s easy to level grind and gain experience, boss battles often come down to a little luck and timing.
Let’s get real, 2022 is already a crazy stacked year when it comes to RPG releases, and so Potato Flowers in Full Bloom is not something you want to pick up right away. On a sale, and if you really needed a downtime RPG, then this game might be your thing. As it is, this is a charming and minimalist adventure featuring engaging turn-based battles, even when the sum of its parts doesn’t add up to anything extraordinary.
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