Out now for several platforms, here’s a Potion Party review for the Nintendo Switch (not on their behalf), a co-op management game by first-time development studio RPGames.
There are two reasons why I play video games: enjoyment and an excuse to write. The flurry of new titles never seem to end, and that’s great for gamers, but more so for folk like me who can write about the things they enjoy. Like a good whisky and new music recommendations. Irrelevant…
Potion Party was more to do with writing a review for a new release. While we’re honest about the motivation, I didn’t know much about it other than the Switch release a Top Hat Studios production (also behind the superb Synergia).
Instead of having a pre-meditated opinion, I just put it on. Admittedly, it wasn’t my kind of game with its chibi pixels and niceties. Then not long into gameplay – like, immediately – it soon became apparent that this was an Overcooked type of game. A good one at that.
That motivation for gaming at the beginning was relevant: for the most part, I enjoy the games I get to play. It’s nothing to do with being a people pleaser; I genuinely like all these games and appreciate them for what they are. What I don’t seek in a game is stress.
Party Potion was stressful. Multitasking predominantly on my own was hard graft. You’re thrown into the action immediately, and there are zero instructions (ed: [that’s me] there is a ‘How To Play’ option on the menu – I missed it). However, the controls are intuitive, and after a few foiled attempts, I was ready to move on to the next challenge.
You won’t know until they arrive, so you can either make some preparations or wing it. As the preparation type, I would set up my equipment in advance of them coming. Besides being organised, the faster you serve them, the happy they are, the more money you make. And it’s all about money.
The general process in Potion Party is to grow a few plants, pull off the leaves, chuck them in the pestle and mortar, and distil a potion of sort random size and shape. As long as the leaves match the colours that the customer is after, you can sell the potion. This procedure increases in intensity, with a fair share of distractions thrown in too.
As you earn more money, the more upgrades you can unlock, such as increased worktop space, improved equipment, and simply juggling more tasks in fewer footsteps. While this makes your job more fluid, it can be a bit of a grind. Fortunately, that’s one of my middle names, and though you tend to earn more in the later levels, I’d repeat earlier levels to unlock the added benefits.
Initially, there’s only one character to select. It didn’t bother me so much despite needing a regular fix for customisation, but the gameplay was so entertaining that I wouldn’t care if I were an 8ft chicken dipped in marmalade. New characters were initially too expensive to give it any more thought and appeared to be cosmetic. It was only a slight nudge the wrong way, and I saw that each character comes with a buff.
It’s worth the investment, plus the perks can be upgraded. But ignoring how good your equipment or ‘stats’ are, you’ll get plenty of curveballs chucked in along the way, such as ghosts appearing that, when touched (ooh-la-la), will reverse the controls. They don’t seem remotely threatening until you walk into one.
Potion Party excels as a co-op game (or versus option). I didn’t opt for the latter and took a different approach to the co-op option. My eldest daughter is my in-house guinea pig. If you’ve read some of the co-op titles I’ve written about before, she tends to sabotage our efforts – from Couch Monsters through to Totally Reliable Delivery Service.
The method here was to encourage her to play the game independently, appreciate the urgency of it and how frustrating it would be of someone dicking about. What I didn’t expect was for her to play Potion Party for so long. When I came to putting the review together, I flicked through some of the screens to take my notes, and she asked if I was playing Potion Party again and whether she could play it again.
I’m sure the publishers would be happy for me to promote the game’s release, but the relevance here was she wanted it on her Switch account and wants her friends to get it too. Despite my best endeavours to get her engaged in the type of titles I like to play, I’d inadvertently managed to add another title to her list of the likes of Fortnite and Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Even better, she played responsibly as a co-op partner, servicing the customers and tending to the plants while I did the shake n’ bake.
Finally, returning to that stressful experience of gameplay, it isn’t a detriment to the Potion Party and more to do with my nature of frantically doing the best I can. With the dozen of levels on offer through the story, co-op and versus mode for up to four players, there’s plenty of replayability, and to some degree, going that extra mile to unlock everything. Naturally, the mayhem continues with the multiplayer options.
For that reason, I recommend that you have a look at this title – especially if you like Overcooked based games, but perhaps more importantly, a co-op based game that you can feasibly do by yourself or with/against others.