LifeisXbox’s Potion Permit review | Moonsbury, a silent little town, isn’t too keen on outsiders. When people get sick, they tend to rely on healing themselves the way they know how to. But when little Rue, the mayor’s daughter, falls seriously ill, the local doctor can’t seem to cure her. There’s no other option but to call for the help of the outside world. And that’s where you come in: the Medical Association sends their most accomplished chemist (yes, that’s you!) to help poor little Rue. But that’s not your only task: you have to convince this closed-off community that modern alchemy can benefit them in ways their traditional methods cannot. It’s thus up to you to gain Moonsbury’s trust and help their sick patients.
Welcome to Potion Permit, an open-ended sim RPG developed by MassHive Media and published by PQube. Now, I’m not really a people person, but I can make an exception when we’re talking about an adorable-looking potion-crafting game. It’s no secret that cozy RPGs like this one have been immensely popular in the last couple of years. Think about bigger titles Stardew Valley and Animal Crossing: New Horizons and you just know there’s a big market for these types of games. Potion Permit sounds like it has all the ingredients for a successful game, so let’s see if it does.
Most Memorable Moment
I actually have two moments for Potion Permit! First of all, I remember when I found out you could pet your dog. And that the dog follows you everywhere (except inside houses, shops, etc) and is your companion in this game. I absolutely loved this and petted that little guy every single day. First thing I did every day. Second, when I first saw Leano, I was sold on her. I don’t know, but she has a pirate look and blue hair and she looks badass and I was just immediately like: yup, she is so cool this is my favorite character in this game for sure! Imagine how excited I was when I found out she was one of the six characters you could date.
ℹ️ Reviewed on PC | Review code provided by PR/publisher, this review is the personal opinion of the writer.
What we Liked!
- Adorable art style | I absolutely LOVED the Potion Permit art style. First of all, there’s the town of Moonbury. It’s so very cozy: from the tavern that has a downstairs arcade to the shops and the resident’s houses, everything has a certain charm. Outside of town, there are also different areas to explore. Whether you’re walking through a lush forest, shaking through the icy mountains, or fighting your way through the desert, there is always something to see. Besides the environment, I also really loved the character designs. You start the game by creating your own character where you get to choose some things, mostly the color of things: hair, skin, outfit, eyes, etc. Nothing too fancy, but I didn’t mind. What I really like is the NPC designs. Moonbury has over 30 inhabitants and they all have a distinct look. The mayor has a monocle, a high hat, and uses a cane, while Hannah (the tailor shop assistant) has blond hair with a string of blue in there, love it! There’s also quite some representation in the characters: different skin colors, different ages, men and women, and different body types, and Garret is even in a cool-looking wheelchair.
- Never a dull moment | There’s plenty to love about Potion Permit and that’s because there is so much to do! I swear, there is never a dull moment in Moonsbury and it’s great. Of course, there are plenty of quests you can focus on. You could be gathering ingredients, crafting potions, talking to townsfolk, picking up garbage, and more. Most of the time, I had multiple open quests and then there’s also the bulletin board that also gives you quest-like things to do. If you don’t feel like fulfilling the main quests, you can develop friendships. Now, you can level up your friendship with everyone in town, even with the Kipps the cat! By talking to the inhabitants, you increase your friendship, but a better and quicker way to increase them is by giving people Moon Cloves. Now, it’s not that easy to earn them (you mostly get them by curing patients) so don’t forget to talk to people when you walk by them, I’d say. Once you’re leveling up friendships, you’ll also have some friendship quests. If you’re not that social, you can also go fishing. It’s a fun activity and it gives you meat that you can use in recipes or sell for money. Not a fan of fishing? Why not head down to the tavern and have a drink? And while you’re there, head down to the arcade and play a game of Whack a Mole! Then there’s also the decorating of your house. I usually really enjoy this bit but with Potion Permit there was so much other fun stuff going on, that I actually didn’t invest that much time in it.
- You can pet the dog and cat | When I saw that Potion Permit gave the player a dog as a pet, I was (obviously) even more sold on this game. And what I love even more is that your dog (who you can name yourself) turns out to be a useful companion. He joins you when you’re running around or outside of town and after a while, he’ll even dig up items. You’ll need to pet and feed your doggo, and I loved this. Besides this, you can also use your dog to track down an NPC if you need a certain someone, which proved to be super helpful. And then there’s Kipps, old Zeke’s cat. Even though Kipps isn’t as useful as your dog, you can still pet her AND BEFRIEND HER LIKE THE TOWNSFOLK so what’s not to like?!
- Potion crafting | This game wouldn’t be Potion Permit if there wasn’t some extensive potion crafting involved, of course. This is basically the big thing in the game. Whether you’re creating potions to cure patients or to help someone in town with a task, you’ll need to start by gathering ingredients in the different regions outside of town. There are three areas (meadow range aka the woods, glaze iceberg aka a snowy mountain, and barren wasteland aka a desert) where you can find different materials. These can be plants, trees, rocks, or monsters. Your most important materials are definitely stone and wood, which you’ll also need to upgrade your tools, cauldron, and health bar. And then the basils, saps, nuggets, timber fruits, saps, marigolds, bug legs, and so on are used in potions. Now, for the crafting itself, the developers came up with a fun way to do so! Each potion corresponds with a specific shape (they get progressively harder, trust me), as you can see in the screenshot a bit lower on this page. The ingredients all have a specific Tetris-like shape. You’ll need to fill the potion shape with ingredients. Sounds easy, right? Well, it sure is in the beginning. But each ingredient is correlated to an element as well (you know: fire, water, grass, earth). And not every potion can contain all elements. So for some potions you can, for example, only use earth and water ingredients. If that doesn’t complicate things enough for you yet, you can only use a certain amount of ingredients. You start with five, but you can increase this along the way. And you will have to when the potion shapes get progressively more difficult. I’m a big fan of the potion crafting in this game, maybe because I’ve always loved Tetris, but either way, I find it an original way of crafting!
- Minigames | To keep things interesting, the game also introduces a series of minigames throughout your journey. When you’re diagnosing your patients, one of three minigames needs to be played: rhythm, memory, or dodge. They are all very basic and simple, but it’s a nice addition to the game. In the rhythm game, you press the correct arrow when it’s inside a circle, while the memory game has you remember a sequence of a few inputs, and the dodging minigame makes you… yup, dodge obstacles. Besides the diagnosing minigames, there are a few others. I mentioned it before, but you can play whack a mole in the arcade, and the potion crafting itself is also sort of like a minigame. Then there’s also some part-time work you can do, once a day per location. The jobs can be executed at either the church (where you’ll be grinding grapes), the post station (where you’ll be packing boxes), or the town hall (where you’ll be sorting ink bottles). Now again, these minigames aren’t challenging or difficult in any way, but this can come in handy to pass some time (a job takes two hours) or to earn you some money.
- Can be grindy | Most of the time, quests will require you to gather materials. Now, while this is initially super fun, it can feel like a chore if you’ve been playing for a while. I felt like my energy bar ran out quite quickly (upgrading your tools helps but this takes time) so I had to come back the next day, but this also meant defeating the enemies again. Now, you can cook food to refill your energy bar (and health bar, by the way) but unlocking your kitchen takes quite a while. Or it did for me, at least. Anyway, while the game is a great amount of fun, beware that there is a grindy aspect to it and if you’re sensitive to this, you might not enjoy Potion Permit to its fullest.
- Romance | Potion Permit offers a lot. And that includes romance. Cool, right? I thought so too but I do believe that more detail and effort could’ve been put into the whole romance thing. Let’s start with the good. There’s the fact that dating is possible, which is cool. And what is even cooler is that you can date someone of the same or the opposite sex. Now, the downside is that you can only choose between six people: Rue, the mayor’s daughter, Martha, a waitress at the tavern, Leano, a former pirate captain, Reyner, the town’s carpenter, Xiao, the mayor’s assistant, or Matheo, the witch doctor and your biggest rival. Even though my number 1 is among those options, I still think that if you have over 30 characters, more should be dateable. What’s also kind of a bummer is that, once you’ve picked someone to date, you’re stuck. That’s it. You’re dating them forever. Or well, until you start a new game. But you know, no second guessing. Oh, and you cannot get married, only date. So as you can see, the romance is rather limited.
What we Disliked
- Fishing | I mentioned before that you can fish. A typical cozy sim activity that I usually quite enjoy in these types of games. However, fishing in Potion Permit turned out to be a real pain in the ass. Once you’ve cast out your line, you wait for a fish to catch on. This usually doesn’t take long, but that’s when the shitshow starts. The fish actually get angry, meaning you have to stop reeling it in. And it swam back almost all the way, so frustrating. After an anger outburst, the fish gets tired for a little and that’s when you can reel it in. In theory, because it usually gets angry again so fast that I often found myself losing the fish altogether. I personally had an awful experience and didn’t fish unless I absolutely had to (aka when I needed fish meat).
How long to beat the story | 25 – 35 hours
How long to achieve 1000G | TBD
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Head of PC team. PC, Switch, and Xbox game reviewer. Also a marketeer, concert and animal lover, and photographer in training 🙂