I spent the first hour or so trying to grasp the core fundamentals. Honestly, it probably took longer than it should of, but the moment it clicked, Potion Party was thoroughly addictive to play. Saying this, the experience truly shines when playing alongside others as it requires teamwork to be successful in your entrepreneurial endeavours. The best part is up to three other players can join alongside you in story mode with couch co-op.
Story mode is broken into twelve stages; the level begins with a singular customer strolling into the shop, requesting a particular potion. From here, the customer will stay in the shop until the request has been completed or the timer has run out. This is where your job kicks in, as you’ll have to make potions from scratch in your alchemy shop. There are three main steps to take when making the perfect concoction. Firstly, you’ll have to water flowerpots to grow fruit that will be your baseline ingredients. Secondly, with the fruit now ripened, it’s time to grind down on them in a pestle mixing bowl to make coloured powders. Lastly, you’ll get your wannabe chemistry set out and brew these coloured powders in either a regular or large beaker to create the perfect potion.
Arguably, this is a lot to achieve in a small window. However, with the right resource management and using your allocated time wisely, potions will be selling like hotcakes. Having this amount of preparation and strategy involved in each step reminded me of Overcooked. You can’t afford at any point to not be paying attention, or you will feel the full force of these consequences later. Therefore, playing in couch co-op can give you a massive upper hand as you can delegate jobs to one another, so you’ll never end up running too far behind. When I really wanted to get ahead, I would attempt to make potions in advance of orders, so when a customer walked into the shop, I could immediately sell that potion.
In the beginning levels, customers will usually ask for red, yellow, or blue potions, which are simple enough to knock up as they are directly made from the fruit colour that is grown. Later down the line, the customers will no longer be asking for primary colours. They will request all sorts of potions involving mixing coloured powders, adding charcoal, or even purifying the potion itself. Luckily, I paid attention to Art Attack when growing up, so I didn’t find this aspect of the game too difficult, but if you’re unsure what blue and yellow mixed together make, you might find this part a tad hard.
Of course, this will not be the only challenge you’ll have to overcome. Various enemies will spring into action to bring the shop trading hours to a halt. These unwelcome visitors come in the form of thieves, slimes, and ghosts. Why can’t it be a normal shop and hire a security guard or at least have a burglar alarm? Equally, how you deal with these enemies aren’t normal either, as you’ll have to throw a bucket of water on thieves, sprinkle powders on slimes and avoid ghosts swiftly across the shop floor.
The stage comes to an end when the allocated time runs out. Although to successfully complete a stage and progress onto the next one, a certain number of points need to be gained. You’ll be quids in from the potions you have sold at the end of each stage. Spending the gold from these sales will be essential if you want to progress further into the game, as purchasing certain items will cut down your time dramatically. You can buy up to eight different characters with a range of abilities and obtain items that will help improve your humble shop.
A slight nit-pick is the shop layout never changes throughout the whole duration of the story mode. Sure, the upgraded improvements you purchase for your shop will be added to the layout, but that’s all the changes you’ll ever see. This indirectly makes manoeuvring across the shop a breeze. It just slightly felt like a missed opportunity to have added an extra level of tactics to each stage.
I also sank quite a bit of time in the versus mode, which directly puts two teams against one another. The victor is whoever completes ten customers’ orders first. Playing this mode under pressure can cause some chaotic situations and a lot of fun competitive moments. I achieved all the trophies within five hours, with the help of playing alongside someone else in couch co-op. Even though I could imagine this would be significantly longer if you were to tackle the game solo. Unfortunately, there is no shiny platinum for your efforts, which is worth noting if you are a platinum extraordinaire. On the presentation side, Potion Party has a beautiful coat of pixelated graphics, which adds to the overall quaint theme of a little alchemy shop.
My time with Potion Party was short but sweet. Without a doubt, its best quality is playing through the story mode in couch co-op as it brings dynamic teamwork to the forefront. That’s not to say the game is bad to play solo either; it just doesn’t bring out its full potential. There are a few drawbacks, such as the shop layout never changing or some of the potion’s formulas potentially being hard to pick up. Overall, it’s a rather fun resource management experience that will certainly keep you amused for several hours.
Potion Party PS5, PS4 Review
Potion Party is a bubbling concoction of feverish potion-making action. You may not be brewing any Butterbeer’s for wizards, but you will be spending a lot of time synthesising ingredients into potions for sale. With the resource management mechanics, you’ll find yourself attempting to use your time wisely and strategise several steps ahead. This experience is definitely best played in couch co-op for its fun teamwork elements.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Primary version tested: PS4. Reviewed using PS5.