Xbox One, PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch, PS5
September 22, 2022
Cozy games have been a huge hit over the past couple of years. We’ve seen this with titles like Stardew Valley, My Time at Portia (and Sandrock), and Unpacking to name just a few. Cozy games are games that have some safety or softness. Potion Permit is a cozy game contender. In it, you play as a chemist looking after the town of Moonbury. Due to a past chemist doing harm to the environment around Moonbury, the town is slow to trust. But after talking to people and helping them, you start to win the heart of the townsfolk. Can Potion Permit sell their potions to the strongest hero? Or will the potions taste sickly?
Got the wings of heaven on my shoes
Potion Permit begins with the player coming to Moonbury as a chemist. You’re tasked to look after the Mayor’s daughter who has fallen ill, although a lot of the townsfolk don’t trust you, due to the previous chemist who did some serious harm to the wildlife. Because of this, you need to help the town through their ailments, as well as any personal quests they might have. While playing you get to help build up Moonbury, investing back into the community and getting better quality weapons. You even get to upgrade your house and the clinic.
Throughout the game, you build relationships and learn about the town’s history. You get to meet a large cast of characters, from children to vagrants hiding a secret past. Potion Permit allows same-sex romances, which is fantastic to see. You’re only able to romance six characters at the moment, but there’s still variety. You’re also joined by your trusty companion, a dog, which you’re able to name too. In Potion Permit, you’re able to forage for items with your sickle, hammer, and axe. These can be flowers, mushrooms, rocks, trees, and even some low-level enemies. You can use the items you gained to create potions for when the inhabitants of Moonbury are sick, or to pay for a weapon upgrade.
Bad medicine is what I need
The game world features a community board and a bulletin board. You use the community board for accepting requests. This is a quick way to obtain money or find something to keep you busy. Easier jobs award a small fee, whereas bigger jobs award bigger fees. The requests refresh every Monday and uncompleted jobs are automatically removed. The bulletin board will have any information of interest. These are often associated with friendship events, but also other events, like upgrading the town’s blacksmith. Some of the quests can be a bit vague in what they’re asking, causing confusion about exactly what it wants the player to do. One such quest asked me to see an NPC, but it didn’t mean find the NPC, it actually meant visit their house, which was never immediately apparent.
Arriving at Moonbury, you get to live in the previous chemists’ house. Due to the history between chemists and Moonbury, you live and work in a run-down building. Sick Moonbury residents come to your clinic. When you wake up, a horn sound will go off along with a strobe light indicator (this is very small and right next to the map). The patient will mention where the issue(s) is(are), and it’s your job to find out the diagnosis. When you perform the diagnosis, it’s easier to diagnose the next patient with the same issue.
“You get to meet a large cast of characters, from children to vagrants hiding a secret past.”
You need to treat a patient before the counter above the head goes down. The counters show how many days left they have in the clinic before they’re moved. When you successfully treat them, they will have a green tick above their head and spend the rest of the day in bed and return home the next day. You cannot interact with characters who are sick and will have to wait until the next day. When figuring out the diagnosis for the patient, you’ll play a mini-game. There are three, sometimes you might play one of each, or sometimes you’ll double up. There’s a rhythm game, where you press the button it wants you to press. There’s a memory game, which is remembering the sequence of inputs. And lastly, one has you dodging obstacles.
You’ll be successful if you complete the minigames and it’ll also help your patient’s satisfaction level. Their satisfaction levels connect with your trust level around Moonbury. A thumbs-up icon indicates that you are trustworthy, whereas a thumbs-down icon indicates that you are not. People won’t talk to you and you won’t be able to trigger events around town. However, I found that it was really difficult to gain a thumbs-down, even if you mess up a mini-game. Memory isn’t my strongest suit, but you only ever use four buttons and there are four prompts. The easiness might deter some people from playing, but I really enjoyed it, and welcome it.
A little bit longer and I’ll be fine
Along with looking after Moonbury residents, you also have to brew potions. You can give these potions to sick residents, or if you’re given a quest. The potion brewing has different puzzle shapes similar to the game Tetris. One of the challenges to this is that the cauldron has a maximum capacity, and the only way to add more is to upgrade it. This is where getting to know the town is important, as each time you upgrade a shop, you’re able to access higher quality items. You gain a mailbox a week or so into the game. However, unlike Stardew Valley, you can only sell potions. On the one hand this is good because you can use the materials for upgrades, or cooking. But on the other hand, it can feel very limiting.
Another mini-game common to this genre of game is fishing. In Potion Permit, it is easy to a degree. Within the mini-game, you cast the line with your bait and move it towards the fish silhouettes in the water. When you have a bite, you’ll see an exclamation mark above its head. The fish will fight against you with little emoticons above their head to indicate whether the line will snap. An angry face (and a red line) will get a line snap, whereas a tired face means it’s easier to catch the fish. Sometimes you can even gain items and gold if a fish doesn’t bite.
Other mini-games that Potion Permit has are part-time jobs, these are also great ways to earn money. The police station, town hall, and church all have part-time jobs. The police station has a sorting bottles mini-game, the town hall has you packing packages, and the church has you grinding grapes. These are fun tasks that help set Potion Permit apart from its peers. The church mini-game wouldn’t work for me. Because of this, you lose 2 hours and you don’t gain money.
Doctor, there’s something wrong with me
Yeah, I’ll be needing stitches
- Availability of same-sex romance
- Easy to pick up and play
- Pixel art style is cute
- There's always something "to do"
- Gift giving is simplified
- No accessibility options
- One mini-game is broken due to bugs
- Only selling potions can limit the experience
Potion Permit is a game I can sink my teeth in and play for hours, not realising that it’s actually 5am. The days are quick, so it’s tough to do everything in one go, but the game also doesn’t pressure you to complete things in a timeframe very often. There are annoying bugs that can limit access to side-quests and mini-games, which is disappointing to see. Though with loads of things to do, you never feel that dreaded sense of aimlessness. Potion Permit is a cozy game that makes me excited to get back into it.