To make sure you never miss out on your favourite NEW stories, we're happy to send you some reminders

Click 'OK' then 'Allow' to enable notifications

Botany Manor Review: A garden in full bloom

Botany Manor Review: A garden in full bloom

Explore, propagate, and appreciate gorgeous flowers

It cannot be overstated how much I’ve adored every moment of Botany Manor. I’ve played a lot of excellent games already this year, yet this indie title outshines them all – and not simply because I’m a self-professed plant obsessive.

I have over 100 indoor plants in my house, so yes, it goes without saying that I would naturally be drawn to a game involving floriculture. Nevertheless, while my interest aligns with the setting, I wouldn’t say it does when it comes to puzzle solving; as I’ve shared in previous reviews, I lack the logic needed to crack most puzzles.

Join Arabella in Botany Manor's official trailer

So yes, I wanted to explore every inch of Botany Manor, but trepidation coloured my steps. It needn’t have, though. While the game is most definitely a puzzle game, the way in which it combines those puzzles with the theme, makes for an experience even unrefined problem solvers like me can enjoy.

Taking on the role of retired botanist, Arabella Greene, you’ll traverse her wonderfully vibrant gardens and abode; each area of which is home to a special plant you need to successfully grow. To do this, you’ll listen to the land, picking up clues from your surroundings to propagate and cultivate the most unique stems.

Discovering the secrets of these plants isn’t always obvious, which is why Arabella has a book she carries with her that details the current flora she’s searching for/studying, as well as how many clues relate to it. Not that finding clues gives you an immediate answer; you must ascertain whether the clues you’ve found are connected to the plant you’re trying to grow.

Whitethorn Games

All clues are helpful, but their relevancy is dependent on the flower you’re currently tending to. What is more, you don’t need to find every clue for a particular plant to grow it and thus complete that puzzle. However, for completionists – such as myself – having all the clues neatly added to your book is exquisitely satisfying.

As peaceful as the environment of Steam's Botany Manor is, it’s by no means an unchallenging experience. By the third flower, I was struggling to make sense of what I needed to do, mainly because, for once in my life, I was being too logical. None of the puzzles are too difficult you’ll need to quit, but you may need to reexamine rooms to find exactly what you need. If I was to voice any issues with this game, it’s the lack of a hint button. Though, in truth, you can navigate without one, albeit in a slower manner if you get easily stumped.

Speaking of the rooms, and gardens, they’re not all open to you when you first begin. Part of Arabella’s reasoning behind solving these puzzles, besides growing stunning plants, is to explore her home. Arabella is as much a stranger there as you are, having only recently returned after some time away; as such, you’re on a journey of discovery together.

Whitethorn Games

For me, that makes the experience all the more beautiful to play through: you’re seeing Arabella’s world through her eyes, but in a way that’s devoid of roiling emotions. Her feelings are obviously a part of the story and how it’s told, but they don’t overpower. You’re therefore allowed to explore her emotions via your own, the two coming together to deliver a wonderfully touching adventure steeped in poignancy. This is by no means a tragic tale, but there is sorrow sown into the dirt of this flourishing orchid born from Arabella’s life.

Arguably, what makes our journey into the luscious grounds of the manor so enjoyable is how attractive it all looks. Although Botany Manor isn’t photorealistic, its artistic simplicity holds a vibrancy you want to immerse yourself in. All of which is enhanced by the subtle rustling of leaves, the trill of birdsong, and the soothing background music. This game has such ambience.

I found myself sitting at every bench, seat, or sofa I could, ignoring my quest to find clues and instead focusing on taking pretty screenshots of my surroundings. Just when I thought I’d found the most picturesque part of the game, a newly discovered area proved me wrong.

To be a part of Arabella’s green thumbed world is a gift. Sadly, it isn’t a gift we can keep enjoying once its complete, due to the way in which the puzzles are solved; their rigidity makes the game more of a one hit wonder. However, despite its short longevity, Botany Manor is everything you want from a plant-based puzzle game. In fact, I’d argue it exceeds expectations. No, I can’t easily return to re-do the puzzles, at least not if I want a fresh challenge, but simply to bask in the glow of the sun-lit grounds? Oh, I’ll return to Botany Manor in a heartbeat.

Pros: Beautiful visuals, delightfully challenging puzzles, a tender and heartwarming experience

Cons: A lack of replayability, and no hint button (but I’m nit-picking here)

For fans of: What Remains of Edith Finch, The Talos Principle, A Little to the Left

9/10: Exceptional

Botany Manor is available on Steam (version reviewed), Nintendo Switch, and Xbox. Code for review was supplied by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Whitethorn Games

Topics: PC, Steam, Nintendo Switch, Xbox