There are so many potion games brewing right now

There are several games you can play this autumn that are all named “potion”-something. They’re all about cauldrons and brewing magic elixirs to some extent, but they’re all slightly different simulation subgenres, too. There’s medieval witchery and modern witch entrepreneurship and even large-scale potion pipelines.

I’ve been following a couple of these for years and I still manage to mix them up. Seriously, any time I’ve written about a potion brewing game this year I feel honor-bound to make a gag about how no, this isn’t the same as that other one I’ve also written about. Don’t worry, even though all the names can begin to run together, we’ll untangle the options in this potion games primer—probably the list I least expected to write this year. But the potion-something games demand clarity.

So let’s settle this for the season. Here are the three main potioneering games you’ll want to try this autumn, and one more on the horizon for good measure.

Potion Craft 

What is it: A crafting sim
Release status: Early Access since September 2021
Find it: On Steam

Potion Craft has the coolest brewing system of the games on this list. The initial steps for every potion are extremely hands-on, having you crush each herb with your mortar and pestle, chuck it in the cauldron, pour exactly the amount of water you need, and eventually pump the bellows to lock it in. 

Deciding on a recipe involves a very nifty map exploration system where each ingredient has a dotted line shape leading you towards a completed potion. Different ingredients will help you explore more distant parts of the recipe map for more complex potions with multiple effects. This one’s for the cauldron-lovers who enjoy a bit of fiddling and organizing: you can design a label and name for every recipe in your book. The shop simulation bits aren’t the focus here, so if that’s your style, let’s look at Potionomics.

Potionomics 

What is it: A shop sim
Release status: Full launch on October 17
Find it: On Steam

Potionomics is for the entrepreneurial boss witches. You’ll help Sylvia run a profitable business and pay off her debt by brewing, bartering, and decorating her shop. The brewing here is about balancing the properties of ingredients for the most stable potion until you wind up with something highly rated and effective. At a shop level, Potionomics is more about tactics: recruiting adventurers, precise potion ingredients, and bartering via card battles with your collected set of skills. 

There’s a smidge of life sim in here too: getting to know customers and competitors will net new cards for sealing better deals. Chatting with your friends can lead to shared expertise and a bit of romance too. If you want to actually spend time exploring instead of cooped up, Potion Permit might be your fit instead.

Potion Permit 

What is it: A town life sim
Release status: Fully launched on September 22
Find it: On Steam

Okay fans of Stardew, this is for you. In town sim tradition, you are the new face in town, a chemist sent to take over the medical clinic in Moonbury. There are locals to charm, new areas to unlock, crafting, combat, and a lot of minigames. There’s a rhythm game to diagnose your patients, fishing, postal work, and of course the brewing puzzle. 

Each of your ingredients has a particular shape in the Tetris-ish puzzle for every recipe, so keeping a wide range of plants on hand will help with trickier recipe shapes. I particularly enjoyed how each recipe drills the exact shape of an herb into my head so I always know when I’ve just picked up what was missing and can rush back home to concoct it. Oh, and you’ve got a dog that follows you around town and can fetch other villagers for you instead of staying stuck on your property. It’s very cute. If you want even more science, though, turn your eye to Potion Tycoon. 

Potion Tycoon 

What is it: A management sim
Release status: “Coming soon”
Find it: On Steam

Potion Tycoon is likely a little further away still, but it’s yet another totally different potion game genre to try. If the name didn’t clue you in, this one is a management sim. Like Potion Craft, Potion Tycoon gives you tons of customization choices for your potions: from container shapes and corks and colors. They aren’t just for your personal aesthetic though, they’ll affect how desirable your products are to customers. Because this isn’t just a potion shop, it’s a potion enterprise. The brewing is no joke either: a puzzle of combining four ingredients to enhance or change their effects based on placement.

When you zoom out though, Potion Tycoon is all about management. You’ll need to buy and build machines for your production pipeline, assign workers to use them, buy your ingredients from wholesalers, and balance all those costs against your profits. As is the case with a management sim, this is lots of menu stuff, including a research tree of course, not running out and collecting ingredients yourself as in a life sim.

PCGamer.com

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