Botany Manor Review – IGN

I often feel the urge to don my gardening gloves and start planting when spring arrives. While waiting for the right weather conditions, I like to read books and learn new techniques. This year, however, I found that Botany Manor has been a delightful way to satisfy my gardening excitement. This cozy, first-person puzzle game hands you a blank herbarium book and challenges you to grow various plants until the pages are filled. Although Botany Manor may seem simple on the surface, its clever mysteries keep you engaged and eager to uncover more.

Botany Manor Gameplay Screenshots

As you step into the shoes of retired botanist Arabella Greene in 1890 Somerset, Botany Manor presents each “puzzle” as a fictional plant waiting to be cultivated. Clever clues are scattered around to help you nurture each new seed type. These clues start off simple, such as the Fulguria plant needing flashes of lightning to blossom. However, they progressively become more intricate and abundant, requiring unconventional growing techniques inspired by real-world science and the time period, like playing morse code sounds to a specific seedling. While Botany Manor may not offer much in terms of actual gardening knowledge, it provides a surreal and enjoyable experience.

For instance, when you pick up the first packet of seeds at the potting bench, you discover an imprint of a plant called Windmill Wort, with slots for three clues waiting to be uncovered nearby. It becomes clear early on that these clues not only help solve the current puzzle but also unveil a broader story about Arabella and her manor. Discovering heat and wildflower charts on a chalkboard aided me in determining the ideal temperature to grow Windmill Wort, leading to a beautiful pink flower that spins like a windmill, symbolically clearing up smog, which cleverly ties into a newspaper article discussing the challenges of industrialization during that era.

Decoding some clues took me a while as I continuously went back and forth between them, testing various theories and scratching my head. While the herbarium chapters indicate which clues have been found and where to locate more, they do not retain specific information. This means that if you forget what a certain pamphlet in the attic mentioned, you’ll have to revisit it, turning Botany Manor into a bit of a walking simulator. I often found myself jotting down notes on my discoveries and retracing my steps multiple times to review or cross-reference clues, which could be a tad tedious. However, the game does offer helpful icons to indicate interactive items as you walk past them, along with musical cues to confirm you’re on the right path.

In between solving plant mysteries, you’ll occasionally venture to the front gate to retrieve a key or decipher secret locks to access new areas, adding variety to the roughly six-hour campaign. Each new section of the manor intrigued me, not only due to the progressively creative clues but also because exploring pamphlets, bottle labels, advertisements, and other vintage details within the environment was enjoyable. I particularly appreciated stumbling upon books about art, which enhanced the charm of the space, along with a dreamy painting room that reminded me of my own houseplant canvases.

Saniya’s Favorite Puzzle Games

Good stories with interesting puzzle mechanics.

Botany Manor lures you in with its unusual concepts and picturesque settings in each challenge, but Arabella’s story struggles to keep pace. Rather than unfolding her narrative through characters and dialogues, the game relies on written notes and significant items to offer glimpses into Arabella’s life. While I admired Arabella as a determined botanist who faced unjust rejection in her field, the notes and letters fall short in delving into her emotions. Even correspondence from family, friends, and groundskeepers that could potentially create intimate moments appear forgettable amidst the hunt for clues. Although it’s evident that the manor is not deserted, with a burning fire in the kitchen stove, the place feels abandoned, as if everyone left suddenly. This peculiarity, however, works to eliminate distractions from the puzzles themselves – ultimately emphasizing Arabella’s need to concentrate on getting her herbarium published and earning her due recognition as a woman in STEM.