I play mobile games for many years already and I tried a lot of them. I am checking the App Store for new games regularly and have some sort of a habit to install a bunch of different games that catch my attention to play a few rounds and usually remove them from my phone. That’s because most of the games are pretty similar and it feels like you got it all from that few rounds and there is nothing to learn here, just another time killer detected. Especially now in the time of the rising of the hyper-casual genre, when game development is turning into marketing competition. But from time to time I do run over special games. In every game it’s different, sometimes it`s just a level of nice details, those that are usually ignored by the mass audience, but you see that developers did this for those few who care. Because they care. Being in game development for some time, I see how it looks from the inside — it’s a business first of all. So, I guess it’s when I see this extra that game developers accomplished is what hooks me. When I see, that this is not only about the business — it’s about art. Passion and love that guys put into the game that even I can feel after all those commercial stages when you need to make the game profitable.
Potion Punch 2
Potion Punch 2 is a cooking game, arcade, for iOS and Android released in October 2019 by Monstronauts, a game development company based in Quezon City, Philippines. It’s a small company of indie developers, founded in 2015. And as you already guessed it’s a sequel. To be honest I never player Potion Punch (at least yet) and haven’t even heard about it, so Potion Punch 2 was my first acquaintance with the guys.
The game is a cooking one, so the main idea is you standing at the bar and serving clients different… stuff. One of the first things I noticed about what makes this game different from many others like Cooking City, Stand O`Food and lots of Cooking [ADD YOU WORD] games is that you do not cook burgers, pizzas, or anything else like that. From the start, it was about preparing magic potions in the magic world for humans, elves, dwarfs, and other magic creatures. And also creating runes. This sole difference made me say “Wow” and install that game. I played a few cooking games before, but I usually never stayed with those games for long, and definitely, I never wrote about any of those.
The basic mechanic is classical for those types of games though. Before you, there are several elements and usually 2 tracks of items — potions and runes, for example. Every track usually has up to 3 interactive elements that generate some combinations of the final product and have some limitations. For example, a baby dragon (yes, you have baby dragons at your bar) can grill only one fish at a time. Then some customers order up to 3 items — different combinations of types of items. For example, G`lard — a big orc warrior, can order 1 purple potion, a fried fish, and a blue potion. And you have buckets with red, blue and yellow liquids, so to make a purple one you need to mix blue and red. Oh, and he wanted it “to-go” as a present, so you also need to cork it and put a ribbon on it. But only for the purple one, the blue one he will drink right away. And imagine you have 4 customers already waiting for their orders. And also, if you will lose vigilance the baby dragon will grill that fish to ashes. Watch out there is a goblin tries to steal the money previous patron left, and to be honest I am not sure if G-lard is not an illusion… A lot of micromanagement, yes. But that’s what makes it so fun and it plays perfectly well on the idea of keeping your brain active. Your brain will need a rest after 10–15 minutes of this game.
You start the game with the simplest setup — you have a place on the bar for only one bottle, only one baby dragon, one grill grate, and 2 buckets of blue and red liquids, or essences. So, the first few rounds will be simple enough in case you never played a game like this. Lynn, a pretty ranger, wants to have a blue potion? Like a piece of cake, just take a bottle, drag a blue liquid there and give it to her. Does Sir Othello want to try your fried fish? Drag a fish to the grill grate before the baby dragon and he will start putting fire to it. Just wait for it to get the right condition and gently slap the dragon to stop. Now serve the fish to the sir knight. Easy.
Then completing more levels you unlock yellow essence, corks, ribbons, double portion bottles and you can also upgrade everything in this game. Unlock more space for the bottles, more grill grates with dragons, and improve everything so that it required less time to cook and started to bring more gold. So, in the last levels, and the game has them around 40 in the first chapter, you will have all the accessories, enriched choice of options, and the most famous bar in the area. That means a lot of customers or “patrons”. You can guess, that the game will get complicated at this point, so it will be hard to maintain the place all alone. And that’s why you can hire workers — different heroes, that have their special abilities. My favorite combo for the first chapter is queen Kayle Lizzie and lady Ninya — the first one is a dragon whisperer, she makes them stop firing when the fish is ready alongside other smaller perks, and the second is a barkeep, she refills liquids when they run out. Stopping the dragons and timely refilling the buckets are 2 main reasons I usually fail the level, so I prefer to delegate that to those 2 beautiful ladies. And they have their progression as well — they get experience from every level played and become better in what they do. The patrons — your customers, also have their progression. To level them up, you need to get their appreciation and then pay some gold. To do the first you might throw some parties for the patrons, and to get the second you need just to keep running your bar.
There are a few currencies — a soft one, gold, and hard one, gems. The first one is the most obvious — you get it from your customers serving items, they pay tips as well if you are doing a good job. The gems are usually bought from the store, but also you can get them from the quests — chapter-specific and daily quests. To be honest, I got enough gems from those, so I never bought anything from the store. But, to be fair, I widely used the game option to watch an Ad to double my income from the level. There is also a valuable resource — sweet berries, something you can give your patrons to keep them happy, while you are cooking. But those you can regularly get from the bushes you can buy for the gems. And also, you have mana to pay or better say call the workers, that refills with time. I used a full refill for gems a few times, but mostly I was good with what I get.
If to be short, watching up to 10 Ads per day I was totally happy and did not need to pay. Quests gave so many gems that I could buy every furnishing I need and do all the important improvements till the end of the chapter. This is great for me, while not so profitable for the Monstronauts. I guess this is true, cause some time ago they added additional Ads running after a level you can’t skip. A short one, but still, I don’t like ads I didn’t ask for. It doesn’t hurt my experience now when I already fall in love with the game, but this might have scared me away before. Maybe I should buy something in the store, in the end.
Sensor Tower gives Potion Punch 2 “B” on iOS, so it is successful, but it could be much better. I guess the overall economy should be a bit more demanding. I felt too good playing with up to 10 Ads per day, even though my paywall is not too high, I donate to the games I like when I have something interesting to buy. Here I have mostly gems and I was not interested in pushing patrons progression, the game was easy enough on me.
I don’t want to give spoiler even for simple stories like this, so I will be quick. The game has a story. It is simple, running on the background, but it pushes the game forward, gives you a motivation to proceed, and a sense of goal ahead. And it’s about helping a friend so that kind of stories motivates me personally much better than goals like to become the best cook in the world. The main characters are nice and friendly, the story gives you a few jokes to laugh over. The story plays its part and tries not to distract you from the game, so I would say it’s a perfect story for a cooking game.
And now my favorite part. The game is divided into chapters, every chapter 40 levels long, with additional 5 special challenges, endless and classic modes. Thanks to the 3 stars level ratings and chapter specifics every chapter is replayable. For me, they are simple enough but enjoyable, so I couldn’t proceed before taking all the stars for all the levels. But the main part is that every chapter is different. It’s not about giving you more colors for the potions, or different dragons, or different types of fish — it’s different gameplay. I won’t reveal all the details to keep this for you to find out yourself.
So, after mastering one way of playing, instead of raising the complexity bar to the skies, the game makes you learn new tricks. And this is the main reason I didn’t quit after the first chapter because I would be getting bored otherwise. But not with the Potion Punch 2. I also love the chapter`s size, because the 40th level is that point when I already mastered the style and ready for some final challenges to prove it and leave. So, the games handling my excitement pretty well. The only issue I think I can mention is that the first chapter felt the most complicated. But maybe it’s just me. I also noticed the sense of discovery — I do anticipate what could developers come up with for the next chapter? It’s like watching a TV show and waiting for the next season with a new twist.
I am a bad tester, I rarely find bugs in the games, Potion Punch 2 is not an exception. It is done perfectly well from the stability perspective as well as the presentation. I loved the art from the start — it feels bright, positive, and beautiful. Again, it’s perfect for this game. The overall UX is good, along with industry standards, but the main indicator for me is that there was nothing that felt uncomfortable. The economy is well balanced, but a bit too much for the players’ sake, I guess there is a place to be a bit greedy while keeping the game on the light side. I would love the option to pay to avoid that Ads you can’t skip. Maybe some basic social options, like add friends, send gifts, compete a bit chapter-wise. But that’s already not about the quality.
I will be honest, I am not a fan of high difficulty levels, for me, it’s more about new experiences. And this is exactly what I get from the Potion Punch 2. Also, this is the first game of that setup — when you have different chapters with levels, and the game feels endless from the glance when I caught up with the development. I played until the game asked me to wait for the updates. Of course, this is a combination of the engagement and game release date, because in a few years, installing this game there would be many more chapters. But anyway, that felt good. There is already more to play, so I didn’t finish with this one yet.
Potion Punch 2 is a game worth to be played.
In conclusion, you get a solid cooking game or micro-management game in a bright fantasy setting and a number of different mechanics to keep you excited, with a friendly economy and couple or two nice jokes. A perfect way to kill 5–15 minutes when you have some or need to distract yourself. If you like that kind of games it is a must-try and I encourage you to support the developer and maybe buy a starter-pack? $19.99 bites a bit, so maybe a Fortshire Pack, or 14-day Loot Pack for $9.99 and host a nice Gala party for your patrons.
For me, this is a perfect game in its genre, so I definitely recommend you try it and I wish so much success to the developers because this is a game worth to be played.