Mankind loves to decimate natural beauty, and green and pleasant landscapes are turned grey overnight! It’s heartbreaking and shames humanity, yet nature sometimes fights back, and beauty and wonderment come from disaster. Pripyat near Chernobyl shows how resilient our planet can be when given a chance. The apocalyptic event of the nuclear powerplant disaster killed and maimed thousands, and the area was declared deadly and was evacuated soon after. However, this vacant space allowed wildlife to flourish, and plants, trees, and animals roam in this long-abandoned city. Cloud Gardens uses this juxtaposed idea to discover that beauty is found in the most desolate of places.
Developed by Thomas van den Berg and published by Noio, this is a Lo-Fi puzzle title. Set in cold and dank environments, you are charged with bringing beauty and life to the world. You plant a variety of flowers on long-abandoned structures and help them flourish.
Cloud Gardens turns nightmare worlds into a thing of beauty.
Set across six worlds, you must use existing buildings and decaying waste to support and grow beautiful plants. The premise is strange but captivating, and you’ll love the simplicity and challenge that each level brings. With a logical approach and some loose planning, you’ll build wonderful bright spaces while advancing through the stages.
The brilliance of the main mode is found in the choice of plants on offer, and you’ll learn that each seed benefits from specific structures. You’ll choose whether to grow sprawling climbers, compact flowering bushes, and more, with the surrounding buildings in mind. The negative, however, is if you cannot select the ideal environment, your plants’ wilt and the stage is failed.
Junk and waste are all you need.
Normally, vegetation requires nutrients and sunlight to grow, however, Cloud Gardens enhances its surreal state by asking you to use waste products instead. You’ll place tyres, cars, street signs, trolleys, and more to power the growth of your fauna. It was weird but supported the theme in an odd and heartless way. Generating chaos to create beauty was strange, but it added to the logical puzzle elements.
As your plant’s blossom, they bear fruits and seeds that can be harvested. These are used to increase your garden and to cover different structures. You are free to select any unlocked seeds you’ve found, which increases each stage’s complexity. You must analyse the unused space and plant the correct species to be successful.
This created head-scratching moments as you searched for each solution. Small mistakes have mighty consequences, so you must think before you act.
Cloud Gardens utilises a minimalistic approach.
The broken and abandoned environments are strangely beautiful, and the post-apocalyptic scenes are shown through a minimalist approach. The use of Lo-Fi imagery captures the game’s simplicity and enhances the beauty created when the plants grow and flourish. I adored the cold harsh reality of the industrial world and the vivid colours that brightened the dull sterile landscape. Each small stage was easy to manage, and navigating them was straightforward thanks to the free-flowing camera angle. The camera panned and zoomed freely, allowing you to inspect the action from all angles.
The bleakness of the gameplay was at odds with the heavenly and airy soundtrack. This uplifting music was calming and enjoyable to listen to but didn’t match the grey and bland terrain. I would have liked a reactive soundtrack that responded to the success of your problem-solving. This would have matched any in-game success and would have added variety to the action.
A clear UI makes it easy to play.
The clear and well laid out UI makes learning the basics enjoyable. The difficulty increases across the six chapters, but you’ll understand exactly what is required of you. With smooth controls and a simple button layout, I found little to complain about.
Thanks to its large campaign mode, you’ll be entertained for hours and you won’t want to put it down. A creative sandbox mode also allows you to create the perfect combination of greenery and industrial structures. Extra elements are unlocked the further you progress, and this made sure you kept playing. The small achievement list isn’t demanding, but it requires a considerable amount of grind and time. Completing this may be tiresome and will be reserved for hardcore completionists only.
Cloud Gardens finds beauty in the strangest of places.
Watching life bloom before your eyes is a fantastic experience and Cloud Gardens has captured it beautifully. Thanks to its interesting puzzles and testing logic-based mechanics, this slow-paced title will fill you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. I loved it and recommend you to buy it here! A post-apocalyptic world is cold and harsh, however, you’ll find beauty and colour in the strangest of places.