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Botany Manor Review

Botany Manor Review

I’ll be honest with you, my thumbs may be many colours on different occasions, mostly black and blue from clumsy bumbling, but one colour they definitely are not is green. No matter how hard I try, each and every poor plant in my care has decided the beautiful meadows of the beyond are much more preferable, leading to me awkwardly refusing any new flora in the house. Regardless, botany is a field that is still fascinating to me, as the many ways flowers, herbage, and others have found to grow and thrive in surprising locations are always a joy to discover! Botany Manor aims to scratch this particular itch with a chill journey of phytological discovery, but will it bloom into a great experience, or will it wilt under my impatient hands?

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Curses, my one weakness: TABLES!

Botany Manor, developed by Balloon Studios, is a first-person puzzle game set in an absolutely stunning Victorian English manor. You explore the titular Botany Manor playing as botanist Arabella Green, with the goal of finishing up your botanical research book, Forgotten Flora. To achieve this goal, you are required to find, plant, and grow the many plants found within the manor and its grounds. Each flower acts as its own puzzle that needs specific circumstances, such as the right temperature, sounds, colours, or nutrients to bloom, which you must replicate with what you have at hand. If, like me, you have no idea where to even begin, fear not! There are clues, such as research notes, pictures, and other imaginative tools to help you out, though a part of the puzzle is figuring out which clue is related to which flower.

The game is divided into five distinct chapters, with each focusing on an area of Botany Manor and having a set number of plants to grow. The areas are usually well-contained, having enough space to explore without being overwhelming, all while making your journey through the rooms and gardens feel, well… organic (pun intended). The puzzles themselves were not difficult, but they did require some thinking outside of the box in the best sense. The clues are worded well to not hand out any answers but still give enough to keep you going without getting stuck. Though they may be on the easier side, I still felt clever for figuring everything out, which is all I ask from a good puzzler! One of my favourites was operating an old cider press to create a liquid with the correct amount of sugar!

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More is better, right?

 Surprisingly, the game does have a deeper narrative under the surface, exploring the difficulties, frustration, passion, and perseverance of a woman trying to get into the field of botany in the 19th century. As one can imagine, the derision and disbelief shown by the male representatives of the field at the time was anything but encouraging. This slightly heavier story is told via letters, visual clues, and subtle hints throughout the game, which I really enjoyed. The subtle and organic nature of this narrative reminds me of titles like Gone Home, allowing the players themselves to choose their level of involvement with it. It’s not that hard to ignore anything that doesn't show up in the Clues section of your lovely book.

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I mean, how could you NOT want to figure out who the majestic Nova was?

The game relies on its relatively simple controls and mechanics to progress: you can pick up one thing at a time and can interact with certain items and tools in the manor. If you feel you’ve done something wrong, it’s very easy to reset, and the game clearly tells you in which area clues and seeds can be found, so getting stuck is unlikely. I did, however, have one issue with this feature: my horrid memory.

As I said, the game provides you with a lot of information on where important clues can be found, and that's great! However, what it does not provide is an easy way to access the information you have gathered. I can hardly remember if I ate breakfast on any given day, so remembering what “Petition” is referring to in the clues section is out of the question! While this is not really an issue — I can always just run back to the location the clue is in — it would have been nice to have a small description of the clue available in the book itself. Similarly, be careful where you put things down! The game does not remind you where you left that flask you desperately need to get this stupid flower to bloom.

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You can also collect ducks

In terms of audio and visual design, Botany Manor does an excellent job: while I have not been in the English countryside in some time, the location does embody everything one associates with the setting, from seemingly ancient buildings to verdant growth, streams, quaint little ponds, and birds. The interior of the manor also matches most estates I’ve seen, having dedicated rooms for a single activity, multiple wings, servant’s corridors, and even ancient secret passages! The game is also very colourful and pays a commendable amount of attention to detail, making each flower and its blooming animation feel both unique and beautiful.

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When it comes to background music, the game is mostly subtle, relying on light trills and jingles to convey important information. The general mood of the manor is a charming mix of relaxation with a hint of melancholy, which fits the theme of the game very well. Additionally, there are locations where the ambient soundscape is emphasised with the babbling of a brook, the hissing of a steam vent, or the songs of birds. While these may seem like set dressing, they are, more often than not, hints in themselves!

I enjoyed my playthrough of Botany Manor. Clocking in at a bit over three hours for 100% completion, it wasn’t a long experience, but the nostalgic setting, engaging puzzles, and relaxed atmosphere made this a fun game to walk through. However, it must be noted that the amount of game, in relation to price, is a tad on the low side for the current price point of £22.49, so be aware before purchasing! Regardless, if you have an afternoon free and want to learn a bit of botany while puzzling out which peak of the Alps is the wooshiest, give it a go!

8.00/10 8

Botany Manor (Reviewed on Windows)

This game is great, with minimal or no negatives.

Botany Manor is a charming puzzle game with a lovely setting, a relaxed mood, and fun puzzles you can spend an afternoon with! While recommended for fans of both puzzles and botany, the three-hour runtime may be steep for the price point.

This game was supplied by the publisher or relevant PR company for the purposes of review
Martin Heath

Martin Heath

Staff Writer

Professional Bungler

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