Botany Manor Review – So, THIS Is The Garden Of Eden? I Love It

Plant life that doesn't involve the streets, balaclavas or guns - Botany Manor is a welcoming, peaceful puzzle game set in a remarkable stately home.

Are you really ready for Botany Manor? Unless you’re a horticulture enthusiast or Somerset resident who will tell everyone at the next jam meet at the town hall, a game set in the late 19th century about collating plants sounds incredibly dull.

That sentiment rings through when you read the right up without finding a single hint about Souls-like, ‘a narrative of many twists’, or a 100-player deathmatch. Could this game by Balloon Studios be just that – a game about growing plants?

Then you might notice who the publisher is – Whitethorn Games – behind the superb Lake and hilarious Calico. They know a thing or two about wholesome, feel-good titles. And that’s precisely what Botany Manor is: a wholesome, feel-good experience full of exploration, fascination, and zen.

Botany Manor Review (PC): Plant Life

Botany Manor Review PC - Worts an all
Worts an all. Source: Whitethorn Games

Yes, zen doesn’t derive from sitting in an English country garden, but the two work effortlessly together—only this garden has epic proportions. You play as Arabella Greene, a retired botanist and resident of the titular stately home. 

…a wholesome, fee-good experience full of exploration, fascination, and zen

In simple terms, she’s in the process of having her plant research commissioned and has to collate a knowledge base of every possible attribute one might expect. This might mean temperature, mood, ‘activators’ that help the plant grow, and much more. These stats don’t apply to every plant in the game and are more of a case-by-case study.

Botany Manor has you walk around the vast, majestic grounds—interior and exterior—searching for clues on how to nurture each individual plant. This can be anything from a photograph to a news clipping, a personal letter to a tourism poster. For each clue, Arabella stores it in her book (you have to choose the correct clue as they soon come thick and fast), then applies it to the actual plant growth.

Negative Ions Create A Positive

Botany Manor Review PC - Moth prophet
Moth prophet. Source: Whitethorn Games

Plants don’t grow in real time; they’re instant. Arabella will pick up a pot, add some soil and the seed in question, and then apply a variety of methods to make the specimen thrive. Once a plant succeeds, a new area may be unlocked to explore, though many blocked paths exist. In short, Botany Manor is a first-person puzzle game.

Botany Manor is so wonderfully inviting…what truly is a lovely slice of life

There are a few hints towards games such as The Witness and similar titles such as The Pillar Puzzle, yet there’s something much more striking about the game than its counterparts. It’s so engaging and thoroughly relaxing that it’s therapeutic. As Botany Manor takes place in 1890, there are no modern-day distractions from the outside world, no phones, no procrastinating, and no noise.

Instead, you can retire to multiple viewpoints and chill. I say viewpoint when these locations are benches, armchairs or any other manner of seat. The memory muscle of sitting in every chair for an achievement soon wears thin, and I honestly found myself sitting in multiple spots in a meditative state. The only thing missing is the authentic feel of a breeze.

Do Not Disturb

Botany Manor doesn’t opt for hyper-realistic visuals but instead employs a bright, inviting, colourful space that puts you at ease. The only slightly overwhelming aspect isn’t the puzzles in the game or any complex Latin names of plants but navigating around the manor. It’s HUGE. Maps are unlocked in the book that can be called upon, but still, it’s such an expansive footprint that it makes sense to put your feet up on a bench or two to get your bearings.

Botany Manor Review PC - The heart of the home
The heart of the home. Source: Whitethorn Games

The themes and tones are welcoming and peaceful, though a couple of harsh realities are alluded to. For example, a letter denies Arabella entry into becoming a scholar purely based on her gender, irrespective of financial status. The joke’s on the ‘scholars’ as Arabella finds an abundance of mysteries throughout that these fools would never have stumbled upon in a million lifetimes.

And that brings us back into the room: Botany Manor is so wonderfully inviting. Is it targeted towards greenfingers, landowners, and those with one foot in the grave? Hardly. It’s such a surprising experience that it’s worth all the experiments, sniffing around in guest rooms or the back terrace (not a euphemism) and all those moments of soaking in the atmosphere of what truly is a lovely slice of life.

Botany Manor Review Summary

Put your phone away, open a window, or put on some sort of holistic wind blower that isn’t your dog. Sit down for a moment or two and embrace the wonders of Botany Manor. You don’t need a stately home to experience the wonders of the game, but you do need this meditative puzzle game in your life. It’ll grow on you.

The verdict?