Botany Manor promises a relaxing puzzler experience alongside scientific discoveries

To the wider population, video games have a reputation for only ever being about death and destruction, largely thanks to the popularity of Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto. But, in reality, that’s not always the case, particularly in the indie scene. In fact, some games are more relaxing and laid back than the mainstream stereotype would imply. Botany Manor is an upcoming example. It eschews violence in favour of exploring a profession most of us don’t think about day-to-day.

If the title didn’t give it away, botany is the focus of Balloon Studios’ first-person puzzler. Set in 1890, you step into the shoes of Arabella Greene, who, though retired, still clearly maintains a passion for her former day job. She heads to her old Victorian English manor to finish her book, Forgotten Flora. The allure of new discoveries is evidently too strong for a quiet retirement by the sea.

Botany Manor holds many undiscovered secrets

Upon arrival, you will search the titular manor from top-to-bottom, looking for research clues. These might be hidden in books, posters or letters, so no stone can be left unturned. Alternatively, you might have to interact with some intriguing Victorian contraptions to learn about the flora. The ultimate aim is to uncover their ideal growing conditions so you can help them flourish.

The plants in Botany Manor are fictional, although they draw inspiration from the real world. So, don’t expect your existing botanical knowledge to be 100% useful, although let’s not rule it out either. Instead, you will need to think more imaginatively in Botany Manor’s world. It is a puzzler, after all.

Each plant also holds mysterious qualities, potentially leading to some wonderful ‘wow’ experiences. If done well, this could replicate those moments of discovery scientists enjoy after making a ground-breaking discovery. 

If I had to sum up Botany Manor’s vibe in one word, I would choose quaint. The idea of traipsing around a beautiful old mansion looking for clues about growing undiscovered plants sounds incredibly relaxing to me. And that’s something the beautiful visuals support. 

If you head to a Victorian manor in most games, you’re probably expecting it to be a gloomy horror experience. But Botany Manor sports a bright and cheerful aesthetic, making it seem a lovely place to spend some time. I could imagine myself chilling in the gardens for hours, enjoying the peace and quiet. 

Something important to say

Despite its affable appearance and laidback approach to gameplay, Botany Manor does have some serious undertones. As well as cultivating new plants, you will learn about Arabella Greene’s life. Carving a path through life as a scientist was a tricky endeavour for her as it was – and still is – for many women.

Alongside providing an important historical lesson, dedicating some of the narrative to Arabella’s career will hopefully help her grow into a fully-fledged character. Sometimes puzzlers can feel more like you’re simply controlling a floating camera rather than a real person. That might work for some people, but I prefer a bit more grounding in the world.

If you enjoy relaxing puzzlers and learning about more obscure professions, keep an eye out for this one. Botany Manor will release on Steam on April 8th. 

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This Article was written by: Stephen Gregson-Wood