Justice Playthrough #105: Potion Commotion: Heart Edition

Oh, look, someone turned the Sunk Cost Fallacy into a video game.

Page 56, Game 9: Potion Commotion: Heart Edition by JENNY_

You have a small farmstead and alchemy lab. Grow plants, then harvest them either for seeds or for alchemical components. Turn those components into potions, which you can either use or sell for cash, which you can use to purchase BETTER seeds and brew even COOLER potions!

In theory.

In practice, the game’s pacing is so completely janked that I gave up on it after about an hour and a half, the final hour of which was spent in an increasingly resentful state of “This is going to start getting interesting soon, right?”

The game starts promisingly enough. Your plot of farmland is a dried-out shithole, with only a few places where the soil is moist enough to take seeds. Luckily, your starting seeds (of which you have a thankfully infinite supply) grow a kind of hydrating flower. Harvest five of those, and you can create a hydration potion which you can use to make MORE of your farmland usable.

So, the early stages of the game are a straightforward but satisfying exercise in force multiplication; grow more hydrating plants to open up more farmland to grow more hydrating plants, etc. It wasn’t long before shit was ready to harvest faster than I could click on everything.

From there, it becomes a balancing act to decide what to keep and what to sell — because sell enough hydrating potions and you can buy some more different seeds, which you can plant and then, as mentioned, either harvest them for seeds or for components. (Though the game does a poor job of teaching this concept, and forces you to notice the difference between right- and left-clicking your non-starter plants. Grr.) However, your soil will sometimes dry out, so it always pays to have some hydrating potions on hand.

This is where the wheels start to come off.

As one might expect, the more advanced seeds grow more slowly than the basic boys. This is tolerable at first; the second-tier seeds still grow reasonably quickly. (There’s a day/night mechanic in play where some things only grow during the day and others only grow during the night, but this is a largely inconsequential nuisance.) The second tier seeds only grow freezing and burning potions; already the game is getting away from its core-level concept of “Do you sell it, or do you keep it on hand to use it?”, because I really don’t have a need to either burn or freeze anything. Those potions are strictly cash crops; I guess I’m supplying chemical weapons to local adventurers.

The third tier seeds allow you to create quick-grow potions, which flips that dynamic on its head; the key ingredients for those are MUCH too slow-growing to make them worth bothering with as sellables, so they are ONLY for personal use. They exist to mitigate the tedium of the rest of the game, because from here on out everything grows so. Fucking. Slowly.

Maybe the game wants me to just let it run in the background and come back to it? Nope. Weeds show up. They’re easy enough to get rid of, but you have to notice that a weed has arrested a plant’s growth and click it to get rid of it. So the game forces you to keep an eye on it, even as it relentlessly wastes your time.

Behold the field where I grow my fucks. They better start coming in a LOT faster, game, because I’m seriously starting to run out.

Buying fourth-tier seeds with second-tier potions was, as you might expect, expensive as balls, but I did it, because I wanted to see where the game was going to go. I meticulously turned that one fourth-tier seed into a whole shitload of fourth-tier seeds, using growth potions to accelerate the game’s pace from “Utterly unacceptable” to “Extremely annoying.” From there, I was able to harvest a whole shitload of fourth-tier components, which I could then use for….

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

There are some crows bouncing around your field as harmless screen noise; every once in a while, one of them will fly off and bring back a page telling you how to play the game. (You might be Odin.) I kept waiting for them to tell me how to DO SOMETHING with the four-leaf clovers I’d so carefully cultivated, but nah.

Maybe the game wants me to experiment?

The lab where excitement goes to die. Also, NortonLifeLock is apparently cool with what my webcam is up to, so that’s reassuring.

Given what a HUGE pain in the ass it is go get some of these components, chucking five of them in a vat and hoping for the best is a seriously bold request. But, what the hell, I tossed five of my precious four-leaf clovers and produced….

A hydration potion.

Apparently, the only way to move forward is to purchase the fuckmothering FIFTH-tier seeds with SECOND-tier potions, because the third-tier potions are less efficient time-wise and the fourth-tier potions DON’T. FUCKING. EXIST.

To get the fifth-tier seeds, I’m going to need to sell ONE HUNDRED TWENTY FUCKING FIVE second-tier potions, each of which is going to have FIVE components in it. That is SIX GODDAMN HUNDRED TWENTY COCK-GOBBLING FIVE plants I’m going to need to harvest, which is TWENTY complete plant-and-harvest cycles on my farmstead — assuming I don’t have to interrupt that to plant hydration crops, which I’m going to.

If I pull this off, my reward will be seeds which, I have no doubt, will take EVEN FUCKING LONGER to become a harvestable plant. And then once I harvest them, MAYBE. The game might POSSIBLY. Tell me how to proceed. IF IT FUCKING FEELS LIKE IT.

No.

No.

No.

No.

No.

I resent that the game suckered me into playing it for as long as it did. This is the most grind-tastic time waster I’ve yet encountered in this excursion, and I’m including the overly verbose click-n-read “interactive” novels I’ve encountered. At least those things are trying to tell a story. Most of them fail. But by Dread Cthulhu they’re at least TRYING to give you some sort of narrative progression.

Potion Commotion is just the same goddamn thing over and over and over. The early stages make it clear there’s a halfway compelling game under this crap trying and failing to break through, but if anything, those early stages just make it worse. The early stages fooled me into thinking that things might get interesting again, and they emphatically did not. If the game had been wall-to-wall tedium, I would have bailed on it much sooner than I actually did.

This is awful. Even if your goal is just to deliberately waste your own time as we all continue our long slow march to the grave, surely you have better ways to waste it than this.

How much existential despair is THIS game gonna fill me with?

Page 42, Game 19: LA Hallucination by Rosie 🌹

“a dream-like TTRPG for 2 players based on the album E•MO•TION by Carly Rae Jepsen”

A TTRPG based on an album? The despair potential here ranges between “None whatsoever” and “All of it.” Let’s find out where it pegs the ol’ dread-o-meter.