Potion Permit – Review
Follow Genre: Life sim
Developer: MassHive Media
Publisher: PQube
Platform: PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series XIS
Tested on: PC

Potion Permit – Review

Site Score
Good: An unusual take on the life sim genre through the subject matter
Bad: Needs fixes for some bugs
User Score
(2 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)

Ah, the life sim. Originally an offshoot of the farming sim, this subgenre cemented itself when 2016’s Stardew Valley went above and beyond everyone’s expectations. Since then, many games have tried to copy what made SV so special, from Graveyard Keeper to Garden Story, but none have succeeded in taking the crown from ConcernedApe’s masterpiece. The latest attempt comes from Indonesian indie studio MassHive Media, who are taking Stardew Valley’s formula but shaking it up by making it about medicine crafting instead of farming. Having originally launched back in September, we’ve been spending some time with Potion Permit and are now ready to deliver our verdict. Was it exactly what the doctor ordered?


Throwing subtlety out of the window, Potion Permit decides to get its main plotline out of the way early and starts with an exposition dump disguised as a dialogue scene between the protagonist and several NPCs. Players step into the boots of a young chemist, with the default name of Logan, although you can customize this character’s name and gender. We’ll be referring to this character as Logan for the remainder of this review. Logan has been sent to Moonbury Island by the Medical Association, at the request of Moonbury’s mayor. The mayor’s daughter is suffering from a mysterious disease and the local doctor is unable to find a cure. Our hero has the arduous task of curing the young girl of her illness. Unfortunately for Logan, previous chemists from that same Medical Association have been screwing things up around Moonbury, which has caused the villagers to distrust anyone that has ties to the organization. Our hero needs the help of those same villagers to create the medicine to deal with the mysterious disease, so he’ll have to gain their trust and restore their belief in modern medicine. Can Logan turn things around, turn his small chemist’s shop into a successful enterprise, and perhaps even find love along the way?


Every time we think we’ve seen it all when it comes to pixel art, a new game comes and defies our expectations. This is certainly the case here, as Potion Permit looks gorgeous with its subdued color palette, beautiful lighting effects, and fantastic character designs. The game’s attention to detail is amazing. Pixel art visuals typically tend to suffer from over usage of specific tiles for backgrounds, but that’s not the case here. Insides of homes have been lovingly decorated and personalized to the inhabitants and the game constantly throws new visual surprises your way. There are a handful of minor niggles here, though. The game occasionally struggles with its frame rate and we would’ve loved it had there been more customizability options for Logan but all in all, we were very pleased with what Potion Permit had to offer visually.


Compared to the lavish visuals, Potion Permit’s soundscape is a much bleaker affair. The music isn’t particularly memorable and the game’s lack of voice acting and underwhelming selection of sound effects further add to the disappointment. Of course, audio isn’t the focus here but we couldn’t help but shake the feeling that the game misses quite a few opportunities in this regard.


Although Potion Permit is far more story-driven than other games in its genre, it’s still a life sim at its core. Of course, instead of being built around farming, which this kind of game often is, Potion Permit’s gameplay loop centers around curing patients and crafting potions. The game follows a day-by-day structure which is occasionally broken up whenever the main story needs it. A “normal” day in Potion Permit starts with patients arriving at the clinic, where Logan needs to diagnose what ails them, which is done through a button-pressing mini-game. The next step is to brew the right kind of medicine, which takes yet another mini-game; this time a Tetris-like puzzle game where you need to arrange potion ingredients. After this, you’ll need to tackle the final part of the day-by-day gameplay loop, which is harvesting more ingredients to restock what you used during the brewing phase.

The harvesting phase is by far the meatiest and most engaging part of Potion Permit’s gameplay loop. It involves venturing into the wilds nearby, slaying monsters, picking herbs, chopping down trees, and mining for minerals. At first, you’ll only be able to explore the woods, but as you build up your reputation with the villagers, new areas open up. This in turn lets you harvest new materials, which can be used to brew up new potions, rinse and repeat. Of note here is that you can’t just rob the environment empty. This was one of the many mistakes of the previous chemists, causing the villagers to distrust the medical association in the first place. Their operations caused several plant species to go extinct, causing damage to Moonbury Island’s fragile ecosystem. Instead, Logan must find the right balance between taking what he needs from nature and undoing the damage caused by his predecessors.

Potion Permit carries an environmental message with it and nature restoration and preservation ties into the game’s social mechanics as well. The more effort you put into making sure the world around you is healthy, the more your reputation improves. This in turn lets you explore the various NPC stories littered around the village, and it even lets you go on dates with several villagers. There are six romanceable villagers, three of each gender, and they all feel fleshed out to the point that they almost start to feel like real people once you get to know them better. The cast is definitely one of Potion Permit’s highlights, and it’s not just limited to those six potential love interests. Some other NPCs leave a lasting impression as well, simply because they are well-written and not just one-dimensional embodiments of tropes.

The reputation system isn’t perfect, however. We found that if you build up trust, there is nothing that makes your reputation go down again, so there is no real reason to keep putting in the effort to maintain things. Now, if this was Potion Permit’s only real flaw, we’d be fine with that because the core gameplay loop is satisfying and addictive, the mini-games are fun, and exploring Moonbury and interacting with its inhabitants is a joy. Unfortunately, our times with the game were hampered by bugs that shouldn’t be in the game. Things like the game freezing up during dialogue, patients not loading, or placeholder text appearing aren’t exactly making the game utterly unplayable but they did harm our overall enjoyment. It seems like MassHive Media is aware of this as the game has received some updates and patches, and hopefully, any remaining kinks are ironed out sooner rather than later.

It’s a real shame too that we have to point out these issues, because the good definitely outweighs the bad here. At the time of writing, we can’t wholeheartedly recommend Potion Permit but if the game keeps getting supported, then it’s definitely worth picking up if you’re a fan of the genre. The €19.99/$19.99 asking price for the base game feels very reasonable given the 15-20 hour length that it will take you to play through the story, although we’d say the DLC (which is also included with the game’s Deluxe Edition) feels very overpriced in comparison. As much as it pains us to say this, because we really did like the game, we’d recommend holding off for now until the game’s performance is nigh spotless and if any of the DLC piques your interest, wait until a hefty discount. €1.99 for a digital aquarium may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but those individual items do add up quickly.


While there is a lot to love about Potion Permit, the game did leave somewhat of a sour aftertaste because of the persistent bugs. We assume that these will be patched out over time, and they didn’t entirely break the game, so if you can overlook them, then Potion Permit is certainly worth a shot. It’s one of the most original and enjoyable life sims we’ve played recently, and while it won’t take the crown from Stardew Valley any time soon, you might still like MassHive Media’s take on the genre if you’re an SV fan.

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Rating: 5.5/10 (2 votes cast)
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Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Potion Permit - Review, 5.5 out of 10 based on 2 ratings

1 Comment

  1. […] 2020 was an oddly prolific year for potion-making games. Alongside Potion Craft, several others like Potion Permit and Potionomics came out. Each of these has its own unique take on the same concept and approaches […]

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