Title: Potion Party
Release Date: April 8, 2021
Reviewed On: Switch
Publisher: Top Hat Studios
Genre: Cafe Sim
With a few minutes left until the end of the workday or just waiting for a meeting to begin, I often find myself picking up my phone or my Switch to play a quick round of video games. It may be a game of mini-golf, a racing game, or smashing sugary sweets. I’m drawn to these “filler” games. They’re fun and relaxing to play and easy to put down to pick back up hours or days later. If you find the same thrill in these types of games, then Potion Party could be a title that might spike your interest.
Potion Party is a frantically fun game where you manage an alchemy shop and serve customers their desired potions. During gameplay, you grow your own colorful fruit, grind it down and then boil said fruits to construct potions. Using red, blue, or yellow fruit, you can combine potions to make purple, green, and orange or add charcoal to create a black potion.
You don’t know what each customer is going to request when they walk through the door of your shop, but it’s best to have a potion ready or be in the process of making their requested potion. Each customer has a timer, and when it expires, they walk out your door losing valuable coins that you can use for upgrades.
Potion Party’s art and style is pixelated, saturated, and super vibrant. Although there are only 8 characters, they are all unique and have personable characteristics. There are some RPG elements to this adventure as well, where you can use coins earned in each level to improve not only your shop but also purchase bonuses and upgrades for your character.
The game requires you to strategize and organize your shop to efficiently supply your customers with potions. Blob monsters and thieves appear to hinder your progress and force you to take alternate routes. The only way to get rid of them is to throw grounded berries at them that match their color or soak the thieves with buckets of water.
As you progress through the game, you find yourself no longer thinking about the timer. You have fine-tuned your actions and start planning three steps ahead. You have multiple potions ready for customers and smashed berries ready to take on any enemy. Time disappears, and all that’s left is you and your job.
There is a co-op option where you and a friend can work together to serve your customers or face off against each other to see who can serve the customers quickest. At first multiplayer feels clumsy, but you soon regain your composure and begin to elegantly dance through your shop, making customers happy and banishing the enemies who attempt to break your stride.
The biggest downside of Potion Party is its single objective gameloop: Make potions for your customers. The entire game takes place in one single room and only has one single song playing the entire time. Still, what little there is here is done well, and there is something addictive about the entire experience.
I found myself putting the game down for a bit, only to pick it right back up to achieve a better score or unlock the next character. There’s very little to do outside of that, but I don’t think this game is meant to blow your socks off or make you weep with emotion. It’s a Potion party, and you’re the host delivering potions to your loyal customers.
In brief moments of gameplay, Potion Party is a lot of fun. Going in expecting more than satisfying short burst of excitement might be a letdown. Its charming visuals and addicting gameloop provide enough to warrant mixing up a few potions and opening up shop, but I couldn’t help but want a bit more variety in the core design.
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