Cloud Gardens is one of those amazing gorgeous chill games that you end up spending hours and hours in and never get bored. Developed by Noio and published by Coatsink, the game takes place in a post apocalyptic world where there are no remaining humans, only the remnants of their pasts, and nature is now taking its hold.
Cloud Gardens is described as something of a mix between a sandbox toy and a game with challenges. The game features two modes. There is a multi-chapter campaign mode where you spend your time in small snippets of environments planting seeds which you intend to grow plants from. You can place these seeds almost anywhere about these areas however you need to help them grow by placing objects near to them. Once your plants flower you can get more seeds to plant and the aim of each of the chapters is to cover enough of the area in vines, flowers and plants before being able to move along. You are given a limited number of items to place in each of these areas so this adds the puzzle aspect into the sandbox style gameplay. If you run out of items and fail to grow enough plants, you are able to restart and try again, though replaying a chapter and having another go at placing items is just as fun. The campaign features over 100+ areas to play through, each with its own unique slice of world to discover.
There is also a sandbox mode with no goals, where you simply enjoy building environments and growing plants to hearts content. Being able to shape the environments with the large variety of discarded objects and make your own little dioramas is a joy. By playing the campaign you're able to unlock a large catalogue of plantlife and objects to use in sandbox mode.
The gameplay is extremely relaxing and coupled with the amazing soundtrack (from Amos Roddy, the composer of Kingdom) and beautiful aesthetic you really do get lost in the world. I thought the 3D environments covered in the pixelated textures gave the game a very unique but beautiful style to it. The game also features a photo mode which is perfect for taking screenshots of your completed masterpieces!
There isn't much in the way of a story or narrative, but that's not an issue. I love to let my mind wander and imagine why the world has been abandoned. Was there a war? Have humans just left? Did the plants overthrow them and take back their world? We will never know for sure but it adds to the theme and vibe of the game perfectly.
Cloud Gardens is a beautifully, relaxing game and you will find yourself becoming lost in the overgrown wasteland structures that you create. The game never becomes too difficult, but always continues to be an enjoyable experience from start to finish. Top that off with a sandbox mode where you can play around to your hearts content and you have a fantastic experience waiting for you. Watching nature slowly retake its place as the dominant form is extremely satisfying.
TOTAL SCORE 9/10
Cloud Gardens was released onto the Nintendo Switch on the 16th June 2022 and is available to buy HERE for £13.99. The game is also available on PC. We were provided a copy of the game for this review. Big thanks for that!