Rating : 5/10
Whether it’s Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland or Hans Christian Andersen’s books, fairy tales are usually much darker than their sunny exterior. The Disneyfication of these stories seems to have affected Potata Company’s approach to its debut title, which tells a muddled story that can’t decide whether it wants to be a simple macguffin quest for flower petals or a darker tale about corruption of innocence. It shows in Potata: Fairy Flower’s bare bones approach to storytelling that the main series of events is nothing more than an afterthought and an excuse for the main character to do a bit of platforming.
The game acknowledges darker tones exist but fails to interweave any of these ideas into the main story until right at the end. There’s a lot of world building in the form of optional notes that uncover that the town our hero resides in bullies her immensely due to her lack of magic ability and while this is sometimes brought up with a single character, there is never any depth to this or any message to be told. Potata: Fairy Flower teases a tragic backstory for main character Potata, one of familial alcoholism and abuse and you would never know if you didn’t read the one note that tells you about this event. Unlike Grimm, Potata ignores such incidents as if they never happened and that they aren’t important, instead of allowing our characters to be affected by their past. In Potata’s tiny home you won’t see any evidence of distress, nothing bubbling under the surface, just an ill fox and a mother baking pies.
Games like Celeste have proven to us that platformers can be more than Super Mario Bros.’ now 35 year old narrative formula, but Potata ignores all advances in the genre in favour of a dull collectathon with no story and mechanics less advanced than even Super Mario Bros. offers. Potata can’t even run nor does she carry any momentum, her actions are merely walk, jump and occasionally swing a wooden sword. While the platform segments are laughably basic Potata also offers puzzles in a few different forms. The game doesn’t explain what to do in any of these puzzles and so everything is trial and error. These puzzles never offer any real challenge but are logic-defying tests of patience with no clear answer available. The lever based puzzles are the worst offender by far. While the game does kindly tell you the answer, it’s far too blended in with the scenery to stick out and is usually a minute or so before the levers even appear. This means the connection is never made, resulting in minutes of baffled blank staring before searching for the only walkthrough on YouTube.
Potata: Fairy Flower is a fine game with no desire to be more than that. The only areas we see are forest environments with the same old enemies and obstacles littered around the place, the visuals exist but lack any charm or even animation and the music seems added just so the game isn’t silent. There are lots of places Potata could go to tell an engaging narrative about sense of self or address issues that are told to us via notes but it doesn’t bother. Potata herself never engages with people who have been bullying her, never sees her father and, despite a dialogue option to forgive him for his actions, it never comes up. It’s bizarre that the game presents these events at all because it could absolutely pass as a cutesy puzzle platformer for children given more polish, but these small moments hint at a goal to include more adult themes.
I talk about Grimm’s Fairy Tales because Potata clearly wants to aim for that style of story. One of evil fairies; an alcoholic and abusive father; and a character who is comfortable with herself despite the ire of her village but it never goes there. Unlike Celeste, it tries to hide its darker themes and push them into optional places instead of using its platform to commentate or tackle these issues. Unlike Super Mario Bros., Potata is never a fun enough platformer to engage the player and unlike Braid, another whimsical puzzler with something to say, it never makes you think.
Potata is content with being fine and that’s what it is. It’s fine. It’s merely adequate in every area possible. If you’re looking for a fun platform game there are plenty out there, if you’re looking for good puzzles don’t look here. If you want this game to be a true fairy tale and deal with interesting themes, this ain’t it. If you want something cutesy and entertaining, I’m afraid this doesn’t put the effort in to stand against its rivals. Potata: Fairy Flower is either an unfinished potentially good game that fails to delve deep into its own psyche or a boring, unambitious project that has nothing worth sticking around for. I can’t choose which one so I’ll hope it’s the latter.
The platforming is dull, the puzzles are insultingly simple or totally unexplained and the game lacks enough character to be memorable or stand on its own. Unless you’re really desperate, I would suggest you look elsewhere.
Official person who does things, probably likes the weird games you don’t.