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Potionomics makes chucking a bunch of teeth into a cauldron feel great

Mix cool potions and upsell adventurers in card battles

You know, I always figured I’d be great at making potions. As a kid, I was obsessed with pulling things out of cupboards and combining them into a bowl. Shampoo, bubble bath and toothpaste. Salad cream, yeast and lemonade. These concoctions were the result of pure genius, a brilliant mind capable of harmonising with ingredients on a sub-atomic level to create combinations that were beyond the capabilities of any known god. My Mam was only shouting at me because she didn’t understand. These were my elixirs! Sup from this bowl and taste the future of human evolution! Yes, I know this is the same bowl we’re also sick into when we’re not feeling well, but you also bake in it so let’s not start being picky.

As I got older, It became apparent my future was not in alchemy. Someone who puts baby corn into a bolognese clearly doesn't posses the skill to create balanced mixtures. And yet, Potionomics has wrenched the rotting corpse of that childhood fantasy right out of its grave. Finally, here is a suitable outlet for my feats of fantastical alchemy.

The game's animation is a particular highlight, as demonstrated in the trailer above.Watch on YouTube

I’m still not great at it, mind. It turns out that potion-making involves more than just squeezing a bunch of Matey bubble bath into your Dad’s shampoo bottle. It’s about sourcing the right ingredients. Carefully balancing them together. Paying attention to market trends and local events that may influence public opinion. Haggling with your customers. Flirting with a tree woman. It’s complicated.

Potionomics sees young witch Sylvia inheriting her uncle’s potion shop following his death. Except, alongside the run-down store, he’s also left an impossibly large debt that she’s now responsible for settling. Your job is to brew potions of an ever-increasing quality in order to pay it off, competing in local competitions along the way to earn additional funds. You only have a limited number of days to meet certain goals. Fail them and it’s game over.

So! Time to brew. Ingredients possess certain properties. The correct combination of said properties results in a specific type of potion (health, mana, fire protection, etc.). Mixing higher quality items results in higher quality products, which in turn are guaranteed to sell for more cash.

A witch sits on her broomstick while chatting to a forest dwelling carpenter with a tree branch as an arm.
Two witches haggle over a potion in a fantasy potion shop.

Money! Money is the ultimate goal here, after all, and as a purveyor of potions it’s also your job to manage your newly acquired store. Brewed potions can be placed on shelves, which locals can then purchase. Heroes, merchants and other magic folk wander in before complaining about how much things cost. 200 gold for a common health potion? Surely not. Suddenly, Potionomics becomes a deckbuilding card game. Attacks become persuasion tactics. Grumbling customers inflict stress. Run out of turns and you lose a precious sale.

The card game is maybe the best bit of Potionomics. You can customise your deck at any point, and new cards are rewarded by making friends with the town’s various residents. A plucky adventurer who brings you ingredients from their quests. A melancholy soothsayer that lives on a rooftop and is also a shopkeep. A walrus that sells you cauldrons. Cards can protect you against stress, or allow you to be more convincing. Sylvia is kind-hearted and goofy, and the cards reflect this genuine attitude in a way that feels cohesive with the rest of the game.

It all slots together very neatly. The potion brewing. The haggling. The flirting. Competitions. Expeditions. Time is a finite resource and all actions drain it to some degree. You are never without things to do. There’s not enough time to get it all done. Potionomics is stressful, basically. Maybe a touch too difficult.

But it’s easily forgiven. I mean, look at it. Beautiful, painterly backgrounds. Fully animated character models bursting with character and life. But best of all, the potions! The simple joy of throwing a bunch of nonsense into a bowl and seeing what happens. Teeth. Slime. A single rose. A weird fruit. Potionomics doesn’t shout at me and tell me I’ve made the kitchen smell foul. Instead, it pats me on the back and says: “Hey, look at that! A cure for poison!”.

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