In the middle of the beautiful chaos that was the Digital Showcase floor of this year’s Boston Festival of Inide Games, I found a point of incredible calm.
Mendel is a game created by Owen Bell that explores the principles of genetics in what I would wager might be the most calming way possible.
Mendel is a game about creating the strange and beautiful using the power of genetics. Piloting an astrobiological probe dispatched to study the surreal ecology of Kepler-186f, you find yourself alone on a rock, surrounded by an alien sea. By breeding together the flowers that dot the island, the vast possibilities latent in these plants’ genetics begin to reveal themselves and the island begins to transform into a paradise covered in your wild and wondrous gardens.
The concept of Mendel is simple: Collect flower. Collect a second flower. Combine. Plant. See what happens. The joy comes from watching what grows, and what traits are recessive or dominant.
Playing the game is simple, but there’s clearly a ton of work going on behind the scenes, with creator Owen Bell making digital DNA for the different plants and having to make sure everything works perfectly for one beautiful moment to happen.
Mendel is a beautiful game of digital exploration, inviting experimentation, reflection and calm. The bright colors and surreal aesthetic of Mendel help to create a games that is a wonderful change of pace from the standard fare; exactly the thing I always hope to see in indie games.