The very first thing that you will notice upon booting up Potata is the eye-catching visuals that much remind me of classic fairy-tails and illustrated children’s books. That’s natural. Whether it’d be through looking at images on the store page, the game as it starts, or the images provided with this review itself, the graphics in Potata are the first thing that stand out. Warm is a word that comes to mind. Even when the pallet goes darker, and the levels become harder, the game still maintains that sort of softness and rounded edge to them that I am such a big fan of.
The visual design is top notch, but it extends beyond that. Every time I see the pink-nosed, freckled face of the main character contort in a grimace of determination, I cannot help but press forward. Much like how years earlier, a pixelated blue hedgehog urging me forward with an annoyed look got to my heart, so did Potata’s attempts to look more confident. They just brimmed with character.
That confidence, however, might or might not have been misplaced, because Potata: Fairy Flower is the rare hybrid game of two genres I absolutely love, those being the platformer and the puzzle game, and while I like to think of myself as fairly good at both, it turns out that the unusual mixture neuters my abilities a bit.
There is nothing wrong with how Potata controls, though she has a very distinct arch that was something I got used to within a couple of jumps. As I explored the worlds that very much felt like a layered picture come to life, gathering objects and collectibles, I never once felt that I had died due to losing control of the character, at least when knockback was not involved. Potata ends up overusing the spikes, so to speak. Spiked enemies, and/or obstacles that hurt you on contact, are placed in abundance. They aren’t placed so much that, except in secret paths, absolute precise platforming is required. However, when I’m jumping through the tenth timed platform and I have a spiked enemy moving up and down on the path that I need to jump to, I start to notice a bit of a pattern.
It’s not such a distracting thing that it takes me out of it, and as the game progresses and opens up more ways to deal with enemies are found, what was once only possible to avoid by jumping over can now be directly attacked. Still, the back and forth gameplay as I pushed boxes, traded items for other items, was granted passage, and jumped all around was, I felt, solid. It’s the puzzle bits that might be a turn off for some.
I went into Potata without fully grasping the reality of the game. I saw what looked to me like a very well animated and painted platformer that reminded me of Giana Sisters or Rayman Origins, and I instantly felt the need to review it. I like to go in as blind as possible to reviews, and that meant my progress got stopped a couple of times due to the puzzles, at least as far as the most prominent of it goes, the light puzzle.
It’s a type of puzzle I’m very familiar with as it has shown in several other video games. My mind was quick to make the connection to Sonic Adventure and the puzzle needed to enter one of the final stages. You are presented with a grid where you can turn on lights, but of course, there’s a catch. The lights interact with other blocks. If you turn the light on an adjacent block that makes the previous lit light disappear or move.
Though help was available on most of those puzzles, even if not always for cheap, I told myself I would get the puzzles. It’s another one of those Portal 2 moments where, after fiddling with all the parts of it for 20 minutes, in this case turning lights on and off at random to see what they affect, it “clicks” into place.
I won’t lie. Solving the puzzles and putting that final light on to see the game unlock further always felt satisfying. It was taxing for sure, it made me think harder than most platformers do, and yet I appreciated the challenge as it just made the pathway to the next level more earned. Part of me worries that this slows down Potata to a crawl, and Potata: Fairy Flower is not exactly a fast game to start with, but I enjoyed the trip.
I had a wrong initial impression of Potata: Fairy Flower upon first laying my eyes on it. I thought I knew what I was getting into before even reading the store page. Even though the graphics were the first thing that attracted me to it, and my ignorance towards the contents within meant I was in for a surprise, I do not think it to have been a negative one.
I came in expecting a fast paced precise platformer. A game where, like a dance, there’s a rhythm to my jumps and I’d never let go of the jump button. That is not Potata. Potata is slow, filled with backtrack and secrets. It’s not a game which can be dashed through as fast as possible, but rather one that invites you to soak in the gorgeously detailed environments, and notice something amiss for secrets and extra goodies.
I love Sonic Mania and Rayman, I love Super Meat Boy and Ink, but sometimes I’m just in the mood for something slower and more methodic, and whether I’m sweating trying to figure a solution to a puzzle, or observing the game’s world for clues of something I’ve missed, Potata provides. It’s more LIMBO than Mario, but that is not a detriment. In fact, it suits it so well that I cannot think of it as anything other than a compliment. It gets the seal.
Potata: Fairy Flower was developed and published by Potata Company
It is available on Steam for $8.99 which is about the same amount of times as autocorrect corrected the title to “Potato” in the writing of the review.
A review copy was provided by the developer.
Mcportugalem has awarded Potata: Fairy Flower the Indie Gamer Time Seal of Approval.