Strange Horticulture brings together all our new quarantine hobbies into one enticing . During the pandemic, I accumulated plants, lots of plants. I got into reading about mysteries of the unknown, listening to true crime podcasts, watching Bridgerton and making dalgona coffee. Basically the whole quarantine enchilada. In Strange Horticulture, a game about selling plants you’re getting to get all these themes and more in a surprisingly fun and deep game.
You begin your journey in the dark Victorian town of Undermere. Not everything is as it seems for you, the new plant shop owner – Strange Horticulture. With your dusty botany book, you’ll need to solve the mysteries of the town with the power of your plants! Read through your botany book and use your plants to save the world! Or unleash a horrible monster and doom us all. It’s up to you and your green thumb.
The Town Of Undermere
Welcome to Undermere, a deep dark town surrounded by forests and mountains. Straight out of Lovecraft, all sorts of dark mysteries and tragedies lie around the land. You’ve recently moved to town to take over your father’s plant store – Strange Horticulture. In it are shelves of unlabelled plants, your trusty watering can and a soft kitty.
You’ll need to get to work to find out what each and every plant does for the cast of colourful customers that come by your shop. Some of them request simple plants that look beautiful or help relieve pain. But others tell of mysterious cults living in the forest and suddenly you’re thrust into an occult mystery stretching back hundreds of years.
You can choose to help different people with the plants you provide. Help one and not the other and you could be saving the world or destroying it. There are a few endings for you to discover. Perhaps you like the idea of the world ending or making that annoying lawyer’s rash worse instead of better. Whatever you choose the results are always interesting.
Label Your Plants
With the information given to you in the Strange Book of Plants, you’re going to have to manage to label all of your plants. While of course not forgetting to water and look after them. There are almost 80 different plants for you to discover and play detective with, in Strange Horticulture.
The drawings in the book are excellent and highly detailed but typically they don’t show the entire plant—sometimes the drawing only shows a leaf and not the flower, or even more curiously a cross-section of a stem or bulb that looks very little like the actual, complete plant. Dragging plants under your microscope to stare at them and closely reading descriptions takes time and close attention, but successfully identifying a plant is incredibly satisfying, a little mystery with a handful of clues.
Attend To Your Customers
Strange Horticulture has an array of customers that come in asking for plants. But more often than not they have no idea what they’re looking for, or only have a few small details. Such as it has red flowers or it’s good for their sickness. Occasionally they have the name wrong, or only know the Latin term for it.
You’ll need to look through your Strange Book of Plants which will tell you about the properties of various flora. But that book isn’t always helpful. Labels will be your friend in attending to all of your customers well. You wouldn’t want to mix up Mellow-Glow with Fool’s Midnight, would you? Or maybe you would.
Give people the wrong plant three times though and you’ll end up in a Lovecraftian nightmare and go mad. Don’t worry though because there’s a magical device in your madness that’ll get you home. You just have to piece it together. It’s a simple puzzle, but weirdly unnerving. What is it? Why are you fixing it? What does it do?. Well no matter as long as you get back to the shop before closing time.
Explore The World
Along with helping customers in the shop, there’s a large map for you to look through in the shop. Exploring and uncovering places on the map will be linked to your customer’s information. Sometimes its by receiving a letter from the mailman, or finding a lost note in a forgotten drawer in your desk, or getting cryptic messages each evening after you close your shop. The map is the other half of Strange Horticulture‘s detective experience, where you decode clues to discover the location of new plants or events.
The map puzzles aren’t quite as challenging as identifying plants, but the puzzles are still creative and varied and the rewards—more plants for your shop!. As you progress through the game you receive new tools that unlock different ways to discover even more hidden locations. And midway through Strange Horticulture an alchemy system is introduced as well, giving you even more mysteries to solve as you attempt to identify and mix several plants together in your laboratory.
Strange Horticulture is a small but immersive beautifully hand-drawn game. It’s simple but deep and effortlessly transports you into the gothic Victorian era. A simple premise game that’s executed flawlessly, with story intrigue, satisfying puzzles and gorgeous plants.
Strange Horticulture is developed by UK-based indie development studio Bad Viking. The dynamic duo are a team of brothers and this game has been published by Iceberg Interactive. The game is available now on PC for Steam and Epic Games.