In the last ten years, with indie games becoming more and more prominent, we’re seeing game concepts become much more varied and unique than ever before. We’ve got games similar to the one I reviewed yesterday – Booth – which features mundane gameplay complemented with a rich story, and we’ve also got chill, casual games that you can just sit and enjoy. Cloud Gardens is a firmly in the second category, with a fairly new idea, where the objective is to reclaim abandoned areas by flinging plants at them and dropping miscellaneous objects around to help those plants to grow.
It’s a nice idea, and I did find it fun, especially later on when you are able to create more vibrant scenes where plantlife can really take over. It’s a very simple concept and there are dozens of levels to play through, as well as a sandbox mode that allows you to create scenes of beauty with everything you’ve used in the “adventure” mode. Creating a derelict landscape with broken buildings, abandoned cars and nothing else but nature slowly creeping over the top of it all is a thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing experience.
You’re not limited to just one or two of the same old flowers in Cloud Gardens. You’re able to plop many different plants and flowers, all of which are real flowers and are very distinctive from one another. It’s therapeutic watching your garden grow as you plop down more objects for it to reclaim and grow over. Going from a concrete square with a few cars and signs to an overgrown urban jungle is a surprisingly beautiful experience.
On the flipside, Cloud Gardens doesn’t come with too much of a tutorial. It’s not exactly the most complex game in the world, but there definitely needs to be a small note here or there to say “drag the seed bomb until you see a target”, or to warn players about throwing the junk too close to the edge in case it falls off. The former being the big pain really. You’re able to drag and drop the various objects where-ever you please, but when it comes to dropping a seed bomb, it has to be in a specific zone that isn’t ever marked out. I tried to force a plant to sprout on a sign post, but no matter what happened, it wouldn’t let me. I couldn’t create the twisting vine upwards, only could have the plant land on the sign itself, where it would dangle down. Took me a few attempts to try before I realised I had to actually aim where it would let me aim.
Overall, Cloud Gardens does what it sets out to do, which is create an environment which lets you build the sort of pictures you’d find on Reddit’s “Reclaimed by Nature” subreddit. It’s still early access, which means you’ll likely see vast improvements over the coming months as the developers receive feedback. It looks as though it may become a great little chillout game. It’s almost there now, but with some finishing touches, I feel like Cloud Gardens will be one of the games that I always have installed for a little dip-in-and-out downtime gaming.
Review code supplied by developers.