I can still remember when I was younger, sitting at my computer playing World of Warcraft and running around through Ironforge with my friends. On occasion I’d stop at a vendor to resupply with health and mana potions and as I loaded up I’d wonder, “What does this dwarf woman get up to when she’s not selling me potions?” Well, today I finally get to live out that thought with Potionomics.
One part shop management, one part deck building, and just a pinch of dating sim, Potionomics is all about making your shop the best. Source your ingredients, make friends with adventurers and other merchants, brew your best potions, and take down the competition to claw your way out of suffocating debt. Oh, did I forget to mention the debt? Well, I’m sure it’s nothing you can’t handle, especially with all these incredible characters around to distract you!
Potionomics is available on Steam for $24.99.
Story – Magic Potions, Talking Owls, and Crippling Debt!
Life is relatively uneventful for young potion witch graduate Sylvia, until the day she receives word that her uncle, a potion shopkeeper on the mysterious island of Rafta, has passed away, willing her his shop. With a base knowledge of potions, a rundown shack that passes for a shop, and a strange talking owl to help her out, Sylvia is ready to take on the world. Oh, by the way, her uncle died in extreme debt and by inheriting the shop, she’s now soulbound to his debt. No biggie.
As Sylvia you make potions, source ingredients, and make friends with all the locals. The story is basically her trying to keep her head above water while slowly improving the shop. As far as the narrative goes, it’s pretty standard for the genre – there’s no surprises here you won’t see coming. But that’s not a bad thing by any means. The real joy of this game is the rich and amazing characters that surround you. From Quinn, the ingredients witch who eats things they probably shouldn’t and generally hates most people to Mint, the rookie hero with stars in her eyes. The cast is amazing and I honestly love each of them.
Speaking of love, there’s just a tinge of dating sim in this and I am here for it! As I said, the characters are so engaging and that makes it easy to not only interact with them, but to want to explore their characters, see their backstories, and generally just have fun with them. It’s the details about them all that just make them so perfect.
Gameplay – Magimin D Does a Body Good!
The gameplay in Potionomics is where we have a slight bit of a mixed-bag. For the most part, and I mean 80% or more, it’s absolutely perfect. But there are a few issues that might make the experience less than stellar for you. Let’s break it down.
The world building for this game is great and magimins are probably my favorite little dumb detail in the whole thing. Ingredients have the magical equivalent of vitamins in them and by balancing them correctly, you produce certain potions. Magimin A and B together make health potions, B and C make mana, and so on. The trick is getting ingredients that have the proper balance. They don’t all have lovely round numbers or equal amounts of various magimins. Furthermore, you have to source these from adventurers who you pay and outfit with potions, or if you’re fortunate enough to have found some already, the local shop.
This was my biggest problem and it snowballed into a nearly unwinnable situation. I couldn’t find ingredients I needed. Megamin D might as well have been as fictitious in-game as it is in real life. My adventurers weren’t finding anything. The pirate cats didn’t have it. The guild didn’t bring any back. Once I stumbled onto some, my cauldron wasn’t good enough. That set me way behind, at least as far as the game was thinking, and the new challenges continued to pile on. All I could do was try to keep the doors open while I hoped for the ingredients I desperately needed.
Haggling is done via card battle where all of Sylvia’s skills and talents are represented by cards. Set them up in the right order to increase your customer’s interest while keeping an eye on their patience. On their turn, they hit you back with stress and debuffs, constantly raising and dropping the asking price for your potion. This is where I had the most fun. Hitting them with the perfect combination of cards and watching them hit max interest is so satisfying. Plus, you gain new cards for your deck by hanging out with friends, so I always had a great excuse to chill with Quinn.
Every friend you make in Potionomics opens up new avenues of customer combat. Mint’s defensive cards saved my butt more times than I can count, but I just kept going back to Quinn’s aggressive cards for those killer victories. And I might have dipped a toe in Roxanne’s underhanded tactics, but it was all in the name of profit. Er… progress!
So Much at Once
The real problem is there’s so many details to manage it quickly becomes overwhelming. Special order? No problem! Oh, they want a potion that’s high grade? Maybe I can get a new cauldron to help. Oh? They want special traits like “good tasting.” Do I even have ingredients that will do that? Oh and now Luna wants to create an ad campaign for me? And the pirate chests doubled in price? Have I been hanging out with Muktuk enough to keep his shop leveled? Wait, I have a garden now? Oh right, I have only three days until the competition that determines if I get to keep playing the game or not… and I still don’t have any Magimin D!
All of these are fine additions, but you really have to keep up. One mess up or one streak of bad luck with ingredients and you’ll fall behind. Potionomics does not do mercy. Every day feels like a new mechanic that I need to take advantage of, but with that huge debt hanging overhead, all I can do is tread water. Ad campaigns and enchantments are lovely ideas, but I felt like a broke college student being offered stock tips. Bro, I am eating ramen and and discount mac & cheese. Thank you for the consideration, but I can not currently take advantage of these services.
Audio & Graphics – Beautiful Sights and Sounds!
Okay this is where the game really shines. The characters in Potionomics are so memorable, so fun, and so engaging! The art is fantastic. Every character looks unique and moves fluidly. I wasn’t expecting much from a shop management / deck building game, but the characters! Ah! The characters are just good to look at! The aesthetics are so pleasing, both adhering to and gently mocking fantasy game tropes with every new scene.
The part that got caught me off guard, though, was the soundtrack. The music is energizing during duels, calming during planning, and exciting when it’s time for adventure. Each character’s theme suits them perfectly, really helping me get even more engaged with them. When Mint is excited, I’m excited! When Saffron tries to help me relax, I feel calmer.
Potionomics was reviewed on PC with review key provided by ONE PR Studio.