GamingReview: Manifold Garden

Review: Manifold Garden

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Created and developed by William Chyr, Manifold Garden is as much of a wonder and curiosity as the man behind it. An artist with a degree in Physics and Economics decides to create an experience where one can shift their perspectives and go on to experience new worlds, and new ways of seeing them too.

How do I begin to describe Manifold Garden? Words may fall short of this must-play-at-least-once-in-your-life game, but I will try my best.

Enter the Manifold Garden

There is no “plot” to Manifold Garden in the traditional gaming sense, but it still plays out like an adventure filled with puzzles, mind-bending views, and a beauty that keeps you playing for hours. Your task is simple enough: solve ever-increasingly difficult puzzles and finish the game. Its execution is anything but simple. You are able to manipulate gravity by changing the planes on which you traverse on. This causes the need for you to explore your surroundings well for clues and ways to solve each puzzle you come across.

Each completed puzzle opens the door (sometimes quite literally) for new environments. Guided by colors, the boxes will have their unique color as well as pathways. The planes also correspond to the color of the items in that specific plane. My favorite experience in playing Manifold Garden was how it captured the power of perspective. A puzzle may seem straightforward but maybe unsolvable until you’re willing to change how you see things. The element of gravity shifting does make it all the more challenging. You may need to move a box in a plane from point A to B, but you’ll need another box in a different plane (with its gravity) to help you get there. With their gravities working differently from each other, you’ll often need to take a step back and think it through carefully while changing perspectives.

Perspective is key

The feeling of solving the puzzles was a joy I hadn’t felt in a while. My love for puzzle-solving was fulfilled with Manifold Garden. The various environments’ designs each gave the worlds their feel and atmosphere. As though every staircase, wall, window, and ledge had a story to tell you about the world you are now experiencing. These abstract worlds wait for you to uncover their offerings.

The controls were simple enough to get the hang of the movements early on. Adjusting to the switching between planes may take some time, especially in more complex puzzles. It was so much fun to see the walls become ceilings and the windows become floors. There was a particular puzzle earlier on in Manifold Garden where I was so frustrated at the building across that I couldn’t reach. I got so fed up that I just threw myself off the ledge of the one building I was in – only to discover that that was the way to get to where I needed to go. A leap of faith.

Experience the abstract garden worlds…

There is definitely a lot more to Manifold Garden than just solving puzzles. You really, as its webpage suggests, “cultivating a garden”.

Manifold Garden takes the concept of thinking “out the box” to a whole new level. With more than seven years to develop, this is title effortlessly made its way onto the list as one of my favorite games. Gameplay hours are long enough to have you feeling relieved but wishing for more (but then I remembered how hard some of those puzzles were and celebrated my accomplishment of finishing it).

Before beginning the game, I do recommend beginning with the settings. There you can choose between some fancy-sounding physics-based settings (don’t judge me, I haven’t touched a physics textbook in years). I also stumbled across what I thought to be a unique feature – colorblind mode. Manifold Garden also considers those who may be colorblind but would like to experience the game, largely since the role of color serves as a guide of sorts in the game.

Final Verdict…

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this game and I am so glad William Chyr took that risk to go on and create the beautiful experience that is Manifold Garden. A strongly recommended one to play.

Psst…if you go to the official website for Manifold Garden, keep scrolling down or up the page (You’re welcome).  

SUMMARY

+ beautiful and abstract world design
+ user-friendly
+ considerate settings for comfortable gameplay
+ the puzzles
+ great balance in difficulty and solvability of the puzzles
+ the whole game itself

(Reviewed on Xbox One, also available on Xbox Series X/S, PS5, PS4, PC (Steam and itch,io), Apple Arcade and NS)
Sibonisile Motha
Sibonisile Motha. First of her name, (over)thinker, gamer, writer, collector of memes and random curiosities.

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