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One game that just launched may or may not have escaped your notice. We brought you the story of Botany Manor late in 2022 and it was due to launch last year. Now the game is out and is available on PC with a demo on Steam as well. The game is also available on Nintendo Switch and Xbox. This included Xbox One as well as Xbox Series X/S hardware. For PC and Xbox owners it launched day one for Game Pass as well as available for £20.99/$24.99. The store descriptions tell us the following.

Welcome to Botany Manor, a stately home in 19th century England. You play as its inhabitant Arabella Greene, a retired botanist. Explore your house and gardens, filled with botanical research, to figure out the ideal habitat for a collection of forgotten flora. Grow each plant to discover the mysterious qualities they hold…

So let’s look at what we can expect from the game according to the official website. “Botany Manor is a first-person puzzle game set in a Victorian English manor”.

  • It’s 1890, and you play as botanist Arabella Greene, who is working to finish her botanical research book ‘Forgotten Flora’.
  • Explore a complete historical English manor and its grounds, researching how to grow rare plant specimens from seed. There are many rooms and gardens to discover, all set inside a beautiful countryside surrounding.
  • The manor is filled with mysterious clues for you to discover, including books, posters, letters and fascinating Victorian contraptions.
  • The plants you grow are fantastical, but still inspired by real phenomena in nature, so some of them require you to think outside the box. Using what’s available to you in the manor, you must create the ideal conditions for each plant.
  • Room by room, you learn more about the life and career of Arabella, and the challenges she faced as a woman navigating her scientific career.
  • Botany Manor is a relaxing and peaceful environment, feel free to stop and smell the roses.

Botany Manor And How The Game Holds Up

So now we have the details dealt with let’s look at how the game has held up now it’s finally available to play. All footage in this review is captured on an Xbox Series X. I have provided a small example of gameplay below so you can see how it performs and what the gameplay visuals are like.

Gameplay

The game is played in a first-person perspective which is what we were expecting. It works really well and doesn’t need a third-person option which some games offer. The features are accurate when they say “explore a complete historical English manor and its grounds, researching how to grow rare plant specimens from seed”. We find a seed packet and have to examine the surrounding area which could include several rooms or parts of the grounds outside to discover a series of clues about these plants. These clues when discovered tell us what requirements the seed needs to grow into a full-blown plant. The only downside is the book with a list of clues isn’t very clear in detailing what you need to do so you can backtrack here and there. Performance wise it runs well although opening some doors or selecting items doesn’t give you the option immediately.

Botany Manor

Graphics

The developers have taken a different approach to some other games in the genre. For example, The Talos Principle 2 we saw environments looking to be as realistic as possible. It was for this reason the game was not available on the previous generation of console hardware but focusing on this generation and PC. For Botany Manor the art style is more simplistic and is more accessible for older hardware.

Though even the cleaner more basic approach the game can really shine in this department. This is seen when inside the manor more and the light streaming in as the lighting in the game is impressive. It’s not the first game like this to use a simpler art style. The Witness was another example. It doesn’t spoil the game and the artwork on the whole is pleasing to the eye.

Audio

We are limited to a mostly quiet and limited score and when present it works, though it would be nice to hear more of it. The reason for this the sound effects are really limited to the sounds of the grounds of the manor, such as birds tweeting or your footsteps. The sound is basic but works, though I wish we could have more in the game. Consequently, this makes it the game’s weakest aspect.

Story

Another weak aspect of the game is that the premise of the game isn’t a story game with the odd puzzle but more a puzzle game and story-based adventure hybrid. The story is set in 1890 and we play as a botanist called Arabella Greene. The puzzles and story are designed to tell us a couple of aspects. The first is how she finished her research book and the second is how she completed it. The story aspect also wasn’t exactly memorable, however, you would play this for solving the puzzles.

Botany Manor

To Conclude

Overall it was an enjoyable game though I don’t see myself playing it again. It was also pretty easy to get all the achievements meaning once finished there’s no incentive to play it again with Game Pass that isn’t a problem. The issue would be if you bought the game. It can be fully completed in under an hour and a half. Now factor in the price point, I would say wait on a big sale or play via Game Pass. Sadly on the Switch, you’ll have to wait for the sale, and in the UK, it is priced slightly more than the Xbox version. The Switch version is priced at £22.49/$24.99. Steam is the same price but with a limited-time 10% discount.

Botany Manor

£20.99-22.49 / $24.99
7.5

Gameplay

8.5/10

Graphics

8.0/10

Audio

7.0/10

Story

6.5/10

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