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Potions: A Curious Tale Game Review

By March 6, 2024Gaming, Reviews, Video Game Reviews4 min read

A special thank you to Stumbling Cat with providing us with a press key for this game review and all images through their press kit.

Putting mushrooms, feathers, and ash in a pot may not get you much in the real world, but in the new adventure RPG Potions: A Curious Tale, the combination proves indispensable.

Potions: A Curious Tale is the debut game from Stumbling Cat, a Seattle-based indie studio. Originally explored in 2014 by Stumbling Cat founder Renee Gittins, a successful Kickstarter for the game raised $65,000. While development of the full game was long and difficult, the passion and tenacity of the team has paid off with this polished final product.

The game seems similar to many games in the adventure RPG genre, but instead of XP grinding and challenging every monster in sight, there is a focus on strategizing, crafting, and creating clever ways to avoid combat.

The narrative of the game is simple but effective. You play as Luna, a budding young witch sent to study the art of potion-crafting under her grandmother. Using the potions you learn to make through experimentation and recipes, you navigate many different biomes and uncover troubling secrets that threaten the peaceful world around you. Throughout the game, fairy tales and legends are referenced and woven into the narrative in a whimsical way, which gives the game a truly fantastical and cozy vibe.

Exploration takes the spotlight for the gameplay. The game encourages you to experiment with potion ingredients, which is the main way to unlock the different potion recipes that aid you on your journey.

You must mind your ingredient stocks while doing so, or else you may find yourself stuck needing an ingredient at an inopportune time. But, the game is forgiving in letting you return home to switch out your potions or go get ingredients at any time. Even when I entered a boss fight and realized I didn’t have the right potions to deal with the creature, I was able to exit and recollect myself.

One area in which the game is not as forgiving, though, is player guidance. There is no map given for each level, so if you are someone who has difficulty remembering the exact layout of levels, you may struggle with remembering where certain features are located as I did at times.

In addition, when you are given questions, you’re often told which biome the quest is in, but not always exactly where in that biome you need to be. While this choice works well given the exploration focus of the game, you may end up walking in circles for a while in order to figure out exactly where a quest is located.

The game has some puzzles within it, and while there isn’t always much direct guidance for how to solve them, that doesn’t necessarily hurt the puzzle mechanics. In fact, I actually enjoyed not having an obvious answer to the puzzles at first. I had to slow down and really take into consideration what was around me, as the answer often wasn’t as far away as it first seemed. The puzzles blend well with the exploration focus of the game, and they become part of the adventure rather than just some annoying side quest to slog through.

I’d highly recommend Potions: A Curious Tale to anyone who wants to explore the world of adventure games, but would like to play with more strategy and puzzling rather than a normal combat-focused adventure. While the exploration elements of the game sometimes made things confusing for me, it doesn’t detract from the fact that Stumbling Cat has provided a solid debut title, and I am certainly interested to see where they go from here.

Potions: A Curious Tale can be found on Steam for $29.99, and releases on March 7th, 2024.