Botany Manor Review
Image: Balloon Studios

Botany Manor review – Botanical brain teaser

Research and relaxation.

I went into Botany Manor thinking I was getting a simple flower-growing cozy game. I left it wanting even more of its clever clue-analyzing puzzles and not expecting a thoughtful tale to be behind it. It’s the perfect length for a puzzle game, just as it has the perfect amount of difficult yet intelligent puzzles to overcome that always left me feeling smart for figuring them out.

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With each chapter that went on, I got to figure out how to grow more flowers, as well as unlock more spaces within and around the manor. The manor wasn’t just a place built to house these puzzles, it had an intriguing story behind it of a woman who kept studying the art of botany, despite all the hardships that came with it.

Botany Manor Review Cider Apples
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Clue-finding and problem-solving

Botany Manor did a great job of making the clue-finding and problem-solving both satisfying and enjoyable. You first start in a small greenhouse that gives you just a couple of clues to go off of for your first flower. You’ll soon unlock more and more areas of the manor that house even more clues for your research. While discovering each clue wasn’t exactly the hard part, it would soon become tougher as you had to decide which clues aligned with which flowers.

The clues led me to figure out how to properly grow each flower and in what condition. As soon as I figured it out, the flower would grow from a small seedling to a beautiful plant. While at first, I thought I had this in the bag, I was quite wrong as the puzzles went on and I began to hit some roadblocks. But I didn’t feel lost with each roadblock. When the clues are easier to find than they are to decipher and group together, that’s when Botany Manor really shines.

In later puzzles, I hit some arduous roadblocks that had me stumped for minutes, even an hour at one point. I had all the clues and yet I had no idea what I was doing wrong. Then I would hit a lightbulb moment after rereading the clues over and over again, getting a rush of excitement after seeing that my thought process paid off, leading me to finally make that flower grow or figure out how to open a locked entrance.

I could’ve easily gone for a dozen more of these puzzles and wouldn’t have gotten tired of them, especially with the environment I was exploring and the clues I was picking up. Each flower is its own unique test, and I thoroughly enjoyed the little side quests the mystery of each flower presents. One puzzle had me mix specific apples to get a certain amount of one ingredient, another had me looking at types of moths and what time of year they show up. It’s definitely one of the most interactive and tactile puzzle games I’ve played, with some of the most head-scratching and clever mysteries, too.

Botany Manor Review Office
Screenshot: PC Invasion

A living, breathing manor

There are over a dozen chairs and benches you can sit on around and inside the manor, allowing you the chance to just sit down and admire the beauty of this game. It’s not photorealistic, and it doesn’t have to be. Its colors are vivid and there’s not a single area you could look at that isn’t picturesque. I also love the smooth-textured and picture-book art style. In one area you can hear birds chirping, and in another is just the quiet crackling of a fireplace.

You’re completely alone in this empty manor, and yet it still feels so alive. The details in the design all trickle down to relying on rich environmental storytelling. You slowly get bits and pieces of Arabella Greene’s life in 1890 and when she was younger as she’s attempting to complete “Forgotten Flora,” a botanical research book to teach readers the secrets to growing mysterious and unresearched plants.

Despite there being no people to interact with, the manor still feels alive, with something to admire around every corner. While there are many objects to pick up that act as clues, many others are just to admire. I get the feeling that this game didn’t want to make me feel like I had to rush through it. I could sit on a chair and take my time thinking through the clues as I admired the beautiful scenery around me.

Botany Manor Review Newspaper
Screenshot: PC Invasion

A thoughtful story

You can start to put together the story by reading lost letters and looking at old photographs, but it’s also easily readable in other ways. It’s through the unfinished paintings scattered across the manor or the hidden doorways to places meant to be unreached. But most importantly I could feel Arabella Greene’s struggle to get her knowledge out in the world due to being a woman in the 19th century, in a field dominated by men.

You’ll find letters from male professionals in the botanical field refusing to speak with Arabella because they don’t believe her intelligence is at par with theirs. There are newspaper clippings of professors complaining about women trying to study botany and downplaying their interests as just a hobby. But there’s also hope, it’s not all disappointing.

There are letters of people praising Arabella for her incredible findings and from experts who did spend time with Arabella who found her research to be insightful. By the end of the game, I felt very satisfied with where the story left off. The overall narrative was simple enough to be a backdrop for the main puzzles, yet it was detailed enough to be considered a game with a compelling story.

Bm Inside
Screenshot: PC Invasion

Minor mishaps

It’s pretty difficult to figure out things that I didn’t enjoy from Botany Manor. While it looked gorgeous on my PC, I mostly played it on my Steam Deck and it ran perfectly. Only occasionally did I find some lighting errors (standing in certain spots made my guidebook darken or lighten) or a clipping glitch where water in a bathtub could be seen beneath the bath.

Despite this having near to no graphical errors, I oddly was unable to upload my save file to the Steam Cloud. This meant that I was forced to only continue my playthrough on my Steam Deck, and no matter how hard I tried to fix the issue (despite Steam Cloud saying everything was a-okay) my save would not enter the Cloud. I have no idea if this is a Steam error or an error with Botany Manor, but I thought I should mention it anyway.

Although there were a few puzzles that had me stumped, one had me re-reading clues for nearly an hour till I figured it out. I eventually realized it wasn’t at the fault of the game. Sure, there’s no handholding when it comes to these puzzles, but I think it made for a better experience overall since it made figuring out the answer to the puzzle more satisfying.

Botany Manor Review Outside
Screenshot: PC Invasion

A cozy and clever experience

All in all, Botany Manor was a delightful and immersive exploration and puzzle game that left me wanting more, despite knowing that my six-hour experience was enough to satiate me. I entered this game underestimating what I was about to play, so I left it even more overjoyed at the gratifying puzzles and thoughtful narrative. I truly believe this could be the best puzzle game of 2024, and it’s a must-play for anyone who enjoys cozy, exploration puzzle games.

9
Botany Manor
Botany Manor is a colorful exploration game with clever puzzles to solve and an intriguing narrative to back it up. With each problem solved I felt gratified and smart for putting together the right clues and reading between the lines. The environmental storytelling and the relaxing atmosphere made me want to explore every nook and cranny of the manor.

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Author
Anyka Pettigrew
Anyka Pettigrew has been a Staff Writer for PC Invasion since November 2023 and a Contributing Writer since February 2023. She is a Canadian graduate of a Bachelor of Arts degree who has been writing in games journalism for four years. Anyka is an avid guides writer but also enjoys writing anything from news pieces, to reviews, and even opinion pieces. Having a never-ending passion for video games for as long as she can remember got her into a plethora of genres like action adventure, RPGs, horror, survival etc. Some of her favorite franchises are God of War, Persona, The Last of Us, Zelda, and Resident Evil. She also enjoys reading fantasy and sci-fi books, as well as drawing digital art. Anyka also regularly listens to podcasts on gaming news from 'Kinda Funny Games', and 'Play, Watch, Listen'.