Botany Manor

  There are times when playing games that you want to relax in a more serene setting and flex your brain more than your trigger finger.  These are great times to switch gears and play a puzzle game.  There are thousands in this genre from word games to match three puzzles to physics-based games.  Botany Manor, published by Whitethorn Games, is a puzzle game that will test your investigative skills and your green thumb.

  You play as Arabella Green, a retired Botanist in 1890 Victorian England.  You must explore your manor and grounds, grow plants to solve problems, and complete your latest horticulture omnibus on rare flora.  Search for clues on how each specimen germinates, and ultimately grows into a fantastical flower.

  You are given a seed, that must be planted in a pot and watered.  But to make the flower grow and thrive, you must find the correct conditions.  Scattered around the manor, out buildings and grounds are the clues.  Piece together the correct clues and you will be rewarded with amazing blooms.  Some require exact temperature, others specific light sources, or even pollinators.  Every chapter is filled with more clues than you will need, so it is up to you to figure out which ones are relevant to each plant.

  The game play is simple, and beautiful.  A first-person exploration and puzzle game that doesn’t skimp on the scenery.  You walk around the manor and ground and investigate all you find.  Most of the information you find is stored in your omnibus as clues.  You must then place these clues on the flora page properly to complete that section.  Then you use that information and the items in the manor to grow your flower.  You can grow the flowers without completing the entries in the book, but to complete the game, the book must be complete as well.

  The story looks at the career of a fictional woman named Arabella Green.  A woman driven by a thirst for knowledge but held back by societal norms.  Through your investigation you will see her curiosity of the world around her attempted to be stifled by the male dominated culture of the time.  A woman wanting to break into the realm of science and botany was unheard of, yet she persisted. 

  The manor, grounds and all plants are beautifully rendered, Although the plants are fictional, the properties they exhibit are based on real life flowers.  Graphics are smooth, colorful and calming.  There are benches throughout the grounds that let you just sit down and absorb the beauty around you.  The soundscape is also relaxing.  From gentle breezes to bird song, you will never find yourself stressed from the tranquil environment.  Everything melds well to create the atmosphere of an 1890’s English Country Manor.

  The main focus of the game is, of course, the puzzles.  Throughout the 5 chapters you will be tasked with growing many different plants.  Each need specific growing conditions.  The clues are all around you, but you just have to put them together.  None are that complicated to figure out if you have the correct information.  That is where the fun lies.  Finding the correct information requires a good amount of sleuthing.  You will receive some information long before it is needed, and other information that is a red herring.  Some of the puzzles can be brute forced, while others will just bog you down for a long time without the proper information. 

  Botany Manor is a beautiful game with intriguing puzzles, and an engaging story line.  Balloon Studios went out of their way to create an environment that was inviting and the perfect setting for a lesson in horticulture and history you may not even realize you set out to learn.  Available on all major platforms, this game will have you wondering about the world around you, and the beauty in every bloom you see.