Review – Potato Flowers in Full Bloom

A good dungeon crawler can be equal parts nostalgic and engaging when done correctly. People all over remember the days of Eye of the Beholder, and even more modern takes like Etrian Odyssey and Mind Zero (still waiting on a Switch port, Aksys). It’s a relief from the present state of roguelites and procedurally generated maps, where there is order instead of chaos. For Pon Pon Games, they saw the potential with their indie darling, A Healer Only Lives Twice, and wanted to create something that had a grander scope and scale. Thus, we are dragged into the depths of the confusingly titled Potato Flowers in Full Bloom.

After a brief preamble in which we help rescue our “protagonist” from a dungeon, Potato Flowers in Full Bloom is a very open perspective game in which you choose your identity from the ground up, naming your guild of dungeon crawlers and choose which classes make up your party. With only three members allowed in a dungeon at a time, you can, nevertheless, create and customize as many characters as you’d like, tweaking looks, class and race to your heart’s content. While not as robust as some of the bigger name’s customization kits, Pon Pon Games has done well in giving plenty of fine-tune options while still keeping in the mythical vein of their world. I thought there was plenty of individuality to be had, though I ultimately found the most success and satisfaction from the classic fighter/ranger/mage combination.

Potato Flowers in Full Bloom Tutorial

Exactly! We get it, so let’s shut up and get a move on!

Before getting too far into gameplay itself, I will say that the optimization and porting of Potato Flowers in Full Bloom to the Switch is a solid one, but there are too many seams showing for it not to be mentioned. I’m sure Flight School has done great work before, but this isn’t one of the better ports. The loading screens are so mechanical in nature they almost feel like a panel of a pneumatic press fell off and you can see inside. They do take a while, and starting the game cold after coming from another title feels like an exercise in patience and understanding. Given that the Switch is made for people to rapidly pick up and play multiple titles, this feels inherently counterintuitive to the platform, so keep that in mind before getting this game. It honestly is best to play as your main title for a longer period of time, and to really psych yourself up before coming back to it. It’s one of the main reasons that this game with relatively short story play took me such a while to fully understand for reviewing.

Potato Flowers in Full Bloom Loading Times

Perfect, I can go knock out a shower before starting the game.

Once you dive into the dungeons themselves, Potato Flowers in Full Bloom makes itself understood and known fairly quickly. First-person grid movement on static maps with traps, puzzles, and enemies abound. Torches and lanterns are very helpful, but you could honestly brute force your way through in the dark with mostly the same success ratio (though less appreciation for the world around you). NPCs will task you with chores in and out of the dungeons, and your rewards range from new equipment to the occasional XP boost. Take your time, explore, and know that the dungeons can and will respawn everything if you exit, so maybe try and be thorough before leaving.

The fighting style is a familiar turn-based situation in which the enemies will announce what they’re doing before the actions take place, allowing you to prepare accordingly. Be warned and be aware that the damage done, even at a very early level, can be brutal if taken unblocked, so Potato Flowers in Full Bloom really encourages players to approach in a defensive manner versus offensive. Elemental weaknesses also exist, so relying solely on physical damage may not be the best approach, depending on what kind of game you’re looking to get out of this engagement. However, that can also be said for the game overall once you peel back the layers and realize what you’re witnessing within: a strangely relaxing, almost meditative approach to the genre of dungeon crawler.

Potato Flowers in Full Bloom Rat Battle

You damn rat bastards.

In recent years, we’ve seen an explosion of titles that are heavily packed with details, secrets, options and approaches that have left the genre of dungeon crawler to be pretty convoluted. The impact and success of open world games and procedurally generated titles has bled into other games, and we have a consistent need to put hats on hats in order to justify a game. It’s not just a beat-em-up, it’s also a high school life simulator. It’s not just a twin stick shooter, you’re also trying to cultivate a farm. I love when a game successfully gives you a twist and reveals what it really is, but there’s something refreshing about Potato Flowers in Full Bloom in that it shows and tells exactly what it is from the drop. There’s no greater ideology or guile, it’s an honest-to-goodness dungeon crawler that wants you to reach the end, defeat the dragon and make the world a better place. That’s it, and it’s so charming it’s hard to be mad at its finite levels.

If you just want to burn through the game, you make a party of three at the beginning and never change a thing. You’ll find plenty of equipment throughout that’ll help make you more powerful, and the skill tree level system allows you to improve and unlock new abilities within the dungeon, not asking you to return to the surface. I’m not going to lie that some enemies and boss encounters are easier with certain classes in your party (do not sleep on the shaman, seriously), but I don’t think anything is impossible. It reminds me of the original Final Fantasy in that way: you CAN beat the game with just four Fighters, but is that what you want?


The slow revelation that we were, in fact, head-hunted for fantasy espionage.

Death is also not a penalizing event, merely a minor roadblock on the way to success. Did you not count on the strength of the mangroves? Did you believe you could have survived that last wave of skeletal archers without defending? You’re dead, but don’t be ashamed. Just brush yourself off, lose nothing, and try again from the beginning. You don’t forget map progression and you certainly don’t drop anything, so don’t worry about it. Everyone makes mistakes, maybe change your approach and try again.

All of this works exceptionally well with the style and quaint nature of Potato Flowers in Full Bloom. The rounded, cherubic adventurers versus the sometimes adorable monsters puts you at ease even as you’re diving around in the deepest dungeons. You are relaxed by the ambient, soothing music and don’t have to worry about things like starving or madness or some other counter that might be in another game. HP and status ailments are healed as soon as a battle concludes, so there’s no point in thinking about inventory too hard. Just explore, take your time, and figure out what you need to do next. Puzzles are more of a point of interest than a barrier, and you get to just keep moving forward regardless. Was that last dungeon maybe too easy? You can forget about it, or backtrack and challenge yourself with a different party. Why not, there’s no rush!


Big deal, he’ll kick my ass, I can always try again.

I was initially annoyed by the pacing of Potato Flowers in Full Bloom, but in the end, I found myself really appreciative and even captivated by how the game was holding my hand the whole way through. This isn’t some rip-and-tear adventure, this is a fantasy jaunt that nods to the games of before while indulging its own world and approaches. This may not win the hearts and minds of hardcore gamers everywhere, but it’s a wonderful bridge between casual and serious, between indie and mainstream. It certainly isn’t Mary Skelter, but it isn’t Quest 64 either. It’s a pleasant blend, and it really could be a nice reset in the middle of a world that’s honestly too hardcore for me as it is.


Graphics: 7.5

While the dungeon walls are repetitive and dull, the sprites and outer designs are detailed and charming.

Gameplay: 7.0

Approachable to a fault, players will understand the mechanics for the whole game in under five minutes.

Sound: 8.0

Light on sound effects, strong on soundtrack, the aural path is one to be enjoyed with headphones.

Fun Factor: 8.0

For just a moment, I forgot about the whole world and just focused on crawling through the dungeon.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Potato Flowers in Full Bloom is available now on PC and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on Nintendo Switch.

A copy of Potato Flowers in Full Bloom was provided by the publisher.