Manifold Garden Review | Rediscover gravity and explore an Escher-esque world of impossible architecture. Witness infinity in first-person and master its rules to solve physics-defying puzzles. Cultivate a garden to open new paths forward, where an eternal expanse awaits.
Developer: William Chyr Studio
Console Played On: Steam
Number Of Players: 1
Do you like optical illusions? Check ✅
Would you like to manipulate gravity? Check ✅
Do the thought of digital trees, pique your interest? Check ✅
Well if so, this puzzle game might just be for you.
What is Manifold Garden about? It involves a nameless, voiceless first-person character attempting to cultivate a visually-inspiring garden through the power of mastering puzzles that defy and manipulate gravity. If like me however, you didn’t look at any blurbs and dove straight into the game; I wouldn’t criticise you for not being able to answer that question.
The game straight-up, throws you into the fray with only some on-screen control pointers to assist you. Looking around, the first thing that comes to mind, is the art direction is simply wonderful. Heavily inspired by the artist M.C.Escher, it’s an absolute feast for the eyes and brain.
The music is minimalistic yet fits the tone perfectly. It is a well-balanced blend of calmness and tension; which reflects the overarching ebb and flow of the gameplay progression.
Whilst, the theming and visuals work together hand-in-hand, I was not all that immersed; I very much felt like I was in an art gallery, looking at pieces from the outside. I never imagined myself inside the environment. This is highly likely because there is ultimately no story or characters to bring the player into becoming fully immersed. I was constantly nodding my head at and buying into what I saw, but I was always conscious that it was me doing so.
Explore Impossible Geometry
The controls work splendidly. On steam, players have full choice between using a keyboard and mouse combination or using their gaming pad of choice. The full customisations of button mapping and sensitivity controls are present to suit all player types. No complaints in this department whatsoever.
Cultivate A Garden
The puzzles are incredibly clever, especially when gravity is a primary factor in the mechanics. That aside, it needs to be said that Manifold Garden has only one major core game loop; you manipulate gravity to solve puzzles and progress further. The depth of the core game loop ie: the variance and freshness is certainly there, however many escape room fans might tire of the repetition.
There is no explicit hints system, however the game does have one tool from the beginning that is a constant hint in itself; the dot/cross-hair in the middle of your screen changes colour based on certain aspects! It took me longer than I care to admit to realise this (at first, I was all “ooooh pretty colour change!”), but it is an integral part towards gameplay success. This alone however, is not always enough to prevent players from getting well and truly lost. Despite this, there are plenty of sectioned walkthroughs online, to navigate from any potential spoilers.
An External Expanse Awaits
The price point, is around the £16 mark for all consoles. Manifold Garden will keep players busy for around 5-10 hours based on a single playthrough. There is some opportunity for replay; less so for the puzzles, but more to revisit the stunning visuals.
As always, because it is an indie games company, I feel the amount of content presented, justifies the price tag.
For The Growing Seed Or The Established Tree?
Fair warning; this game requires a fair amount of lateral thinking. The learning curve however, is well implemented; the difficulty increases on a fair and well-realised gradient over the course of the gameplay lifespan.
I got caught by my wife on one or two occasions exclaiming “ooooooooooooooooh!” whilst wearing headphones, as I managed to solve certain puzzles presented that were particularly tricky. There are many opportunities here for headspace payoff and reward.
Apparently, this game took 7 years to develop. Now here, it is an aesthetic feast for the eyes. Aside from that, as long as you have the patience for it, there is a solid collection of puzzle set pieces that will be greatly enjoyed. If you are looking for a game with painstaking and breath-taking artistic direction, then look no further than Manifold Garden.
If you want to purchase Manifold Garden on your platform of choice, head to their website here.