Botany Manor Review

  • All Plant Solutions Guide
  • Detailed Guide (Seeds, Clues, and Explanation)
    • Chapter 1
    • Chapter 2
    • Chapter 3
    • Chapter 4
    • Chapter 5, Ending and Epilogue

It’s the 19th century – women aren’t taken seriously as scientists, industrial pollution is making a mess of things, cameras still require flash powder, and plants grow within seconds of being potted. Okay wait, that last one was probably never true. Still, it makes Botany Manor a more interesting – and playable – game, so you’ll just have to play along there.

In Botany Manor, you play as a retired botanist named Arabella Greene, who’s returned home to deal with some unfinished business. Keen to make her mark on the world of botany, she hopes to publish her herbarium ‘Forgotten Flora’.

To actually fill in the herbarium, however, she’ll have to grow the plants she’s made note of in the book. That’s where the puzzle-solving comes in.

Botany Manor Review

You see, the plants of ‘Forgotten Flora’ are by no means ordinary. Each one bears special requirements that must be satisfied for them to grow, and some of them even have special functions.

Over the course of the game, you will explore Botany Manor and its grounds, keeping an eye out for clues – research notes, letters, books, even fairy tales and equipment manuals – and gather them together in the herbarium. You have to assign each clue to a plant, with no further hints given, and these clues are only validated if you get all the clues to a plant right.

Botany Manor Review

But that’s not all – once you’ve figured out all the clues for a plant, you have to use those very clues to actually fulfill the plant’s requirements and have the plant bloom.

It sounds a bit intimidating, all the clue-gathering and puzzle-solving, but Botany Manor makes sure never to overwhelm you with clues. They’re spread out across areas, very short to parse, and easy to link to one another with their common themes. You’re only ever given two or three plants to figure out at a time in each of the game’s chapters, keeping you from going dizzy with clues and associations.

A more dedicated sort of puzzle enthusiast might even call the puzzles of Botany Manor easy, but I think they’re just right for an afternoon of enjoyment.

Botany Manor Review

For me, the greatest appeal of Botany Manor was in the game’s namesake: actually exploring the medieval manor, poking in its nooks and crannies, wandering about its grounds, running through corridors and looking out the windows. It made me feel like a child on a summer vacation, the way I could traverse any part of the manor I’d explored, building a mental map of what’s where (although actual maps are also provided!), and pretending to be lord of the manor, strutting around in my expansive grounds.

Solving the puzzles of Botany Manor requires creative thinking, and so the game was never a bore for me. Very often, I’d end a session of the game surprised at how much time I’d spent in the game without realizing it. The experience is helped in large part by the excellent herbarium itself, which comes with very helpful, labeled maps, a table of contents, and hints on where you might find seeds and clues.

The real star of the show, however, is Botany Manor’s sound design. Opening and closing the herbarium, flipping through its pages, tossing soil in pots – all of these actions have thoroughly tactile sound effects. Another favorite of mine was that whenever the game required me to get to the gatehouse at the edge of the manor grounds, the music would spur me on to run through the manor like a child expecting a delivery of toys.

There’s a sense of interacting with real objects, and the sense of immersion is further enhanced by the game charitably allowing you to sit on any chair found in the game. It’s a subtle touch, but I’m sure the digital avatar of elderly Arabella Greene appreciated it.

Speaking of Arabella, there’s plenty of clues about her life too, which aren’t connected to any of the plants. I’ll leave the details of these to your own exploration, leaving only my nitpick that the clues perhaps repeat their points too often. Arabella is, without a doubt, a staunch feminist, but the game seems to belabor that fact.

Nevertheless, the game’s eventual conclusion ties in nicely with the life that you uncover through all the clues, and I was left with a smile on my face and a lesson in my mind.

Botany Manor is a fantastic game that lasts only some four or five hours, making it an excellent one to settle into over an afternoon or perhaps a weekend. The puzzles are manageably spread out and require creative connection-building, and there’s a sweet story to uncover as you grow strange plants. Even if the game doesn’t leave a particularly deep impression, it’s certainly worth your time.

Developer: Balloon Studios
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Publisher: Whitethorn Games
Release Date: April 9, 2024 (PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch)

Rating: 4 out of 5.

This review is based on a copy of the game provided by the publisher. The PC version of Botany Manor was played for this review.

Thank you for reading our review of Botany Manor. Playing the game already? Check out our walkthrough of the game!

For more interesting articles about indie games, be sure to check out the links below.

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