I’m always fascinated by the indie games that end up popping up on our twitter feed or in our inbox that are so wonderfully unlike most other games. It takes a special kind of drive and courage to create a game that so boldly doesn’t fit the mold of modern gaming, and then put it out there for the world to see.
The Botanist is one such game. Being developed by James Biddulph, the game is currently looking for votes on Steam Greenlight. In much the same way as Mendel, a game we adored from last years Boston FIG that also involved growing plants, The Botanist is a quiet and reflective game, centered around the act of growing things. However, unlike Mendel, which focuses purely on the mechanic of breeding plants, The Botanist has a interesting focus on words and on optimistic ambition.
The Botanist is an optimistic game about growing plants, where every word in the world is a seed that grows a unique plant. It aims to bring people together through gardening.
You are let go from your job, with very little compensation and even less in the bank. You choose to see this as an opportunity. To finally take the time to try and reach your dream of becoming a botanist. Work hard and believe in yourself, and you can achieve your goals.
The core concept of the game is that perfect balance of a clear goal and total chill: I’m not sure there’s a more relaxing pursuit than growing plants, and pairing this with the stressful predicament of having to pursue a new job is a fantastic way of providing a relaxing experience that can still explore some hard situations.
Mechanically, the game revolves around the purchasing of specific seeds, growing these plants, and photographing the matured plants to fill customer requests, thus expanding your customer base and your reputation. However, the seeds and plants you’ll be growing aren’t just the standard potted flowers and herbs: you request the seeds by requesting a word:
You can order up to 5 seeds a day, with any word that you can think of. You could order one with your name, a place, or whatever you like! This word is used to define what the seed looks like, so no plant is random. For example, if I grow a seed called ‘Botanist’, and I tell you that it grows a cool green tree, you could order one in your game. Then when you plant it, you will get a tree that looks very similar.
This is an incredibly cool exploration mechanic that has me eager to start typing in all kinds of words, and is sure to foster a community of players, all eager to share some of their coolest discoveries.
The game also looks gorgeous, with the bright colors and almost surreal plant designs adding a fantastic splash of imagination to the very grounded office you work in. Everything has a slightly vintage appearance, and is very bright and hopeful, perhaps even idealistically so. It all has a very calming effect that I think is the exact intent and aim of the developer.
The Botanist is currently scheduled to be released on PC and MAC mid 2017.