Botany Manor Review (Xbox Series X)

If only plants grew this fast in real life.

Released: April 9, 2024
Available on: Xbox/Steam/Consoles
Genre: Puzzle Walking Sim
Developer: Balloon Studios
Publisher: Whitethorn Games

Ah, another game I wasn’t so sure on. Honestly, I didn’t know much about Botany Manor other than it featured puzzles, it was about plants, and you’ll be exploring a manor. Which, okay, you can gleam most of that from just the title alone. I did like the art style, but I wasn’t too sure about it as I remember that the trailer I saw was more cinematic than showing off the gameplay.

Botany Manor focuses on the puzzle gameplay rather than on a story. I debated whether or not to talk about the story or the gameplay first, but I think I’ll start with the story like I usually do. Botany Manor, while it doesn’t seem like it at first, does have a story in the background that you can put together by the various letters you find that aren’t clues (or associated with the puzzles in some way). Taking place during 1890 in Somerset, England, you play as Arabella who has recently returned to an estate her family owns. This estate is called Botany Manor and she’s back after some time to conduct some research. Research for what exactly? Well, she was given the opportunity to put together a Herbarium and possibly get it published in her name. You learn that her family is filled with scientists, with some being confirmed to be botanists (including her uncle and possibly her father), and Arabella has been interested in botany since she was young. However, being a woman, a lot of people around her wants her to drop it, marry someone, and start a family. Arabella, of course, didn’t back down and she even received some support and help (from her own sister to other women interested in science). Perhaps this would be her big break? Good thing Botany Manor has the perfect conditions to grow the 12 different plant seeds she got her hands on. Now all that’s left to do is figure out how to grow them and write about it.

Admittedly, the story isn’t that interesting and isn’t really a surprise that it was about Arabella’s struggle being a woman in the science field fighting not only to be taken seriously, but also for other women to be taken seriously. I’m glad it wasn’t focused on and the focus was instead put on the puzzles. It’s not exactly a story that you stay for. Though, I will say that I did like the small look we got into Arabella’s family and the letters were short, sweet, and interesting enough to read. I still can’t get over the total betrayal a particular character did to her and I did like what the ending ended up being.

Now onto the gameplay! Botany Manor is all about growing flowers, but it’s not quite as easy as just watering them. Arabelle has selected flowers that bloom in special conditions that she herself doesn’t exactly know about. And even when the flower’s blooming conditions are know, how could you bloom them in captivity? Weird wording I know, but it’s the best I can describe this. To figure out how to bloom them, you have to find clues that are scattered around the area that chapter takes place in. These clues take the form of papers, books, and other items; and you may even need to cross reference clues with each other to pinpoint what you exactly need. Once you know what to do, all you need to do is plant it in a pot (well, after finding the seed packet), have it go through the ideal conditions to get it to bloom, and watch it grow.

The various areas of the manor are locked until you either complete the requirements to have the key sent to the gatehouse or when you go to the next chapter. This really helps as the manor is a bit overwhelming when you first step out of the beginning observatory. The game is split up into five chapters with each chapter having its own set of flowers and area of the manor. Having areas locked until you need to be there really helps in letting you know where you need to focus on and letting you know that the clues to this set of flowers are definitely in this area.

In the book, the drawing of the seed and flower gets filled in once you pick up the seed packet and grow the flower. The little vague snippet on the flower also gets written once you grow it to be a bit more detailed in. Lastly, you can also fill in what clues go with what flower to fully fill out the book and so you can see what clues relate to one another more easily. There is also a page where it shows you all the clues for that chapter and where they’re located at. Which is helpful if you need to go back to look at a clue, since you can’t through the book, or see where a missing clue is if you happened to overlook one.

I did like the gameplay for the most part. I did get a bit tired of it when I was halfway through Chapter 4, but part of it was due to being tired as I was back into it the next day. Anyway, I did like the puzzles. I liked looking at the various papers and books scattered around, figure out which clues went with which seed by either a clue that specifically mentioning the flower or by the little snippet the page starts with, and going to grow it. It gives you a nice “Eureka!” moments and watching the plant grow and how it interacts with the world was so cool. I also did like how there was some leeway in chapters to where you can grow plants in any order. The puzzle difficulty do fluctuate, but they mostly felt like the perfect balance of not being too easy and not being too hard. I ended up only having trouble with one flower and it was the very last one I did.

The only negative I have is that you can’t look back at clues through the book. This is an odd choice since it does make it seem like you can. It’s not a problem at first, as the clues are usually in the same room or close enough, but it really does get more spread out during Chapter 4. Chapter 4 and 5 was a combination of having a big area that the chapter has you in and having four and three seeds respectively so the clues jumble together more. I would know what information I needed, but I wouldn’t want to walk back to where that clue was in the manor. The one puzzle I also had trouble with was mainly because of how spread out that plant’s clues were. Granted, I guess it was partially my fault for not writing anything down.

I also did find that the game lost an opportunity to be more on theme with Arabelle writing a book. Surely she would write more on these plants, not just list documents she used to write a couple sentences, so why not have a paragraph written based on the information gleamed from the clues. It would put in a reason to fill in the clues since you can’t use it as a database. Maybe it could be vague at first to be a built-in hint until you grow the flower and it gets more detailed.

I guess it’s not that surprising that I liked the art style Botany Manor went with. It’s stylized like you’re walking through a painting. It’s simple, but detailed enough and it really makes everything pop. The flowers especially looked really nice and it helps evoke the calming nature the manor exudes. The sound also helps evoke this calm atmosphere. You’ll mostly hear ambience for that specific area like birds chirping, the wind blowing, the house creaking, and/or you picking up and putting down items. The music, when it does come in, uses calming instrumentals that can lean towards upbeat.


Botany Manor is overall an alright game. It’s not a game I would recommend at full price, but it was a nice way to spend a couple of hours. I did enjoy the puzzles and I enjoyed how the game was structured. I enjoyed picking up clues, figuring out how to bloom these fictional flowers, watching them grow, and being able to see what they looked like in-person (or more accurately as close as in-person as you can in a game). The story was uninteresting, but I did like reading all the documents whether it was clues for the plants or just for the story in the background. The art style and sound design was also really nice and evokes how calming the manor must be. However, the game does fumble by not letting you view the clues through the book, having you travel back to it if you needed to read it again; and the last two chapters feeling like the clues jumbled together due to the big area the chapters encompasses combined with the amount of seeds.

Basically, Botany Manor is a good game that I would recommend for any puzzle lovers when it’s discounted.


♡ ♡ ♡ A witch that goes for anything that peaks her interest no matter the genre. Currently obsessed with the Persona series and trying to make a dent in my backlog. ♡ ♡ ♡

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