Game: Cloud Gardens
System: Steam (PC & Mac)
Developer|Publisher: Noio Games| Future Friends Games
Price: EU € 6,59| UK £5.79|US $7.99
Release Date: September 9th 2020
Preview code kindly provided by Future Friends Games
You know we specialize in handheld gaming, but sometimes a game comes by on Steam that looks so special that I just have to check it out. In hopes that it will eventually make it to the Switch, you never know!
Wholesome Game Cloud Gardens
Cloud Gardens is such a game. With the attention Wholesome Gaming has been getting lately this is a game that fits the bill so well. The developer describes it as a relaxing, humble little game about overgrowing the ruins at the end of the world. Hmm, the background story might not be so relaxing then!
Noio Games is a small Dutch studio led by Thomas van den Berg who made Cloud Gardens grew out of the plant simulation that they salvaged from his previous project Garbage Plant. It’s a very interesting idea: nature will ultimately take back the landscape after there’s no more left from our attempts to conquer the planet. Plants are so resilient that they will in time overgrow concrete, garbage, buildings and everything mankind leaves behind.
Make Beautiful Scenery out of Junk
At the start, I could have used a bit of a tutorial. But remember, this game is still in Early Access and even as I type this, a new update came in that made the tutorial better and presents more improvements. The gameplay is what counts, but we can expect more updates before this game is in the final stage.
Cloud Gardens presents you with a piece of junk or a desolate building. In font of it floats a fluffy ball of greenery. Got it: drag the plant ball of sorts onto the structure. Yep, did it and a plant grows to cover the piece of junk. What I didn’t get at first though was that I also had to drag lots of other stuff onto the structure. Like road signs, signifying highways, or the speed limit. Or tires when I had to make sure an old rusted car was overgrown. Turned out that only dragging the smaller pieces onto the structure gave the plants a boost to the greenery to start flowering.
After that, you harvest the flowers by clicking on them, and slowly but surely a new ball of plantlike forms, allowing you to drag some more greenery onto the structure. You can choose what kind of plant it should be too. A beautifull pink colored vine or a green one with creeping tendrils forming lovely big deep pink blooms? A meter fills up, and once it’s filled, you can move onto the next piece of junk.
A “Story Mode” and a Sandbox Mode
You may be wondering why I put Story Mode in brackets: did that to make it clear that there isn’t so much as a story. No text in the entire game, the story you add to it is all your own imagination. But aside from the greenery obstacles presented to you there’s also a sandbox mode, where you can build and green-ify as much as you want.
You earn textures, plants and props in the Story Mode, but you get to use them in Sandbox mode.
A prime example of what fans make is below. Watch in wonder!
— Unicorn (@ADivineUnicorn) October 12, 2020
This may all sound a bit weird, but Cloud Gardens is actually very soothing to play. Beautifying what looks horrid. Always accompanied by a couple of black crows and a hazy glow to the background makes for a very atmospheric experience. Laid back tunes in the background, ominous crowing of the crows. You really feel as if the world has gone silent around you.
This game had me firing up Steam on my MacBook for the first time in years.. It’s the second game I ever played on there, so that should tell you how much I wanted to give it a try. I’m not used to playing games with a touchpad on my computer. More than once I wished that I had Cloud Gardens on my Switch or even on my iPad. It would make a perfect game for a touchscreen!
If you play games on Steam and are looking for some good wholesome gaming, I’d say go for it.
And to the developers: please, if you have a chance, then consider bringing it to the Switch or mobile. It would be perfect on there!