The Sundew Review (PC): Plantlife

Time to reconnect with nature, but a future version of itself. No, stop talking to that plastic IKEA plant; it doesn't count. The Sundew review.

In the time it’s taken from first hearing about The Sundew and finally being able to play it, I’ve genuinely grown a range of plants. That’s a reference to the title, as it relates to ‘small insect-eating plants.

While I haven’t been losing sleep until its inevitable release date, this was a game firmly on my radar for a multitude of reasons; a point and click, set in the future, Japanese inspiration, and a fabulous pixel art-like aesthetic reminiscent of the classics.

Developed by Agnès Vuillaume under the guide of 2054, this indie adventure was well worth the wait. It’s an intelligent story that doesn’t go down the garden path of point and click cliches, nor does it attempt to baffle its audience with convoluted arcs.

The Sundew Review (PC)

Available now on PC, you play as Anna – a cyborg cop that has been left of the fringes of society, following protocol as expected but never seems to get her anywhere. Until she essentially becomes the plot.

The Sundew Review - Locker scene
Locker scene. Source: Screen capture

Cue some classic cyberpunk dystopia and evil corporations, and while they are present, they’re not remotely paint-by-numbers and almost subtle, despite the menacing undertones.

The same applies to the Japanese influence. There’s no kawaii nonsense, big, bold cliche neon signs or a smug word or two to show off one’s knowledge (like I do, because I’m a goon). Instead, it’s an understated setting in future Shibukawa, Gunma prefecture. The tech is futuristic but all plausible.

Hangover Cure

Waking up with a hangover (do androids dream of electric sheep when on the lash? Sorry – cyborg), Anna heads into work doing the using point and click trick of picking up this and that, combing A with B, until the next area. That’s not a slur on the quality, just to confirm expectations.

The build-up works pretty well as you’re introduced to several characters and start seeking out hidden items (for achievements) and smirking at the old adventure cliche, but other than a Guybrush reference, it’s all very fresh. Then it kicks off, and there seems to be some shady stuff happening behind the scenes.

The Sundew Review - So close to my workspace
So close to my workspace. Source: Screen capture

Heading out on a mission, Anna soon becomes entangled in the deceit and uncovers a deeper plot of the classic corporations versus rebels, but with a unique AI take on everything. Without giving too much away, it’s in the title; there’s an exciting fusion of electrics and organic here.

Not Bruce Willis

Unlike the old school Sierra games, you can’t die in The Sundew, but there are a few multiple endings, and with the added achievements, there’s a lot of meat to this title. I was unaware of any hint system as such, and with a few exceptions – as is always the case, there weren’t that many scratchy head moments that spoiled the fun.

Anna completes each area as if it were a chapter, so we go from her apartment to place of work, a restaurant to a museum and so on. It’s easy to follow, and the conspiracy element isn’t remotely a tin hat moment and, again, very credible. There were a few plot holes for me, but that was more to do with a couple of NPCs.

The Sundew Review - Not Bruce Willis
Not Bruce Willis. Source: Screen capture

As for Anna, she’s an interesting character and has a bit more depth than most adventurers, though it would have been nice to have found out more about her – i.e. flashbacks, or hidden codecs. The dialogue paths are decent, though, and almost all the blanks are filled in, so you don’t feel overwhelmed with the storytelling.

A Bright Dystopia

I liked the art style in The Sundew, and it naturally reminds me of my days as an Amiga adventure. The scenery is very cool too, but due to the aesthetic, some of the assets are hard to appreciate as they get lost in similar tones or lack a bit of definition.

The sound was a little bit of a letdown. At first, there’s an upbeat track which I was hoping wouldn’t last throughout. It didn’t, but the rest of the audio was pretty subdued, with only a few sounds here and there and some spoken Japanese. To be fair, it didn’t need anything grand, so it’s not a big deal, but I did wish that the text didn’t carry on without interaction as I missed a few lines when getting a few external distractions.

The Sundew Review - Disc world
Disc world. Source: Screen capture

Still, The Sundew is a comfort blanket of sorts. Progression felt intuitive, the overall vibes and level of challenge were well thought out and had me engaged enough that I dismissed everything and solidly played this through my working day and have no regrets I tell you, no regrets! If this is the first solo effort from 2054, I can’t wait for the next one, and if you’re a fellow adventurer, I’d encourage you to seek this out – especially based on the price; it’s well worth it.

Intelligent, engaging, and a nice distraction from monotony by day-dreaming about fusing with plant life like a modern-day TetsuoThe Sundew is a brilliant title. 以上です