Synopsis: In Cloud Gardens the player overgrows lo-fi scenes of urban decay and manufactured landscapes. Plant your seeds in the right place to create small overgrown dioramas with hundreds of different items and progress through the stages in six chapters. Discover a dozen different seeds and learn how to make them thrive. Use the photo mode to show off your creations.
Growing up, we always had a lot of plants around the house. My mom has a green thumb that I, sadly, did not inherit. It seems like everyone I know is entering their 30s and turning into a plant-mom, yet I struggle to keep any greenery thriving for longer than a week. Thankfully all is not lost, and now I have Cloud Gardens to help me feel like the plant-mom I’ve always wanted to be.
This is a seemingly simple game that allows the player to build out their own mini-worlds full of plants and, well, garbage. It’s a game that displays the passage of time in several ways. You see time pass in the accumulation of junk, and also in the growth of your plants. You have to carefully monitor the wild gardens to help them flourish before they’re overcome by the mounting piles of trash.
There is an obvious environmental message here, but it reads in multiple ways. Each small world the player is met with tells a slightly different story. On some, there is a feeling that the greenery is taking over after all the humans have left. That nature has come to reclaim the land and any manmade structures in its way. On other levels, you feel more of a sense of nature competing with the mounting levels of refuse the player has to introduce. Finding balance between the two is necessary to move on in the game.
There is more to the overall atmosphere than just plants and urban decay though. The music is a key feature of this game. It perfectly sets the tone for a landscape that is both decaying, and teeming with life. The surrounding fog on each level, and the ever present crows also encourage a vibe that is haunting yet homey.
Cloud Gardens is a perfect game to chill with after a hard day, or when you just need to do something meditative. I highly recommend it to anyone who feels they need more hobbies and distractions while stuck at home. It doesn’t require a high level of gaming skill, and it allows you to quickly create some pretty amazing visual scenes. As a creative distraction it works amazingly well. I did also feel a great amount of satisfaction through seeing my plants grow and thrive.
Want to see more? Watch Sam play the game on Twitch!