Whether it's in movies or the real world, there's something fascinating about man-made structures being reclaimed by nature. Japan's Hashima Island, once the nation's most densely populated city, now lays covered in vines and foliage. Cambodia's Temple of Ta Prohm, once a buddhist university, is now dwarfed by immense trees and their roots sprawling throughout the structure.
Cloud Gardens is a game that's all about this fascination with nature's persistence, letting you reclaim the planet one vine at a time. Even better, Cloud Gardens is also leaving Early Access with the launch of its 1.0 update today, which includes a ton of new features and levels to shrub up.
Cloud Gardens gives you little dioramas of post-apocalyptic settings (say a parking lot, train station, or a stretch of highway) and seeds to place almost anywhere, which then convincingly start to grow into plants. You cycle between placing more seeds and placing bits of detritus (shopping carts, lawn gnomes, entire cars) which, if placed close enough, will make the plants grow even further. Rachel Watts loved Cloud Gardens when it launched in Early Access.
Cloud Gardens' original "story" mode was a pretty simple progression of increasingly elaborate dioramas to grow plant life on, but the 1.0 update adds a branching (ha) overworld to let you select levels rather than going through them in the previously linear path. The Early Access game already had a healthy length (I enjoyed playing for hours), but 15 new levels have been added to the mix, along with 120 new items that both decorate your post-apocalypse and spur plant growth. The dev team has also added full controller support.
Part of Cloud Gardens' appeal is the option to play in sandbox mode and then use photo mode to take some chill shots. With the 1.0 update, Cloud Gardens lets you customize your sandbox's skybox, which should make it easier to get the right atmosphere and color tone you want.
Perhaps best of all, Cloud Gardens is getting six new music tracks for its creative mode. The original soundtrack was already a fantastically chill ambient landscape (by Amos Roddy, composer on the Kingdom games, In Other Waters, The Wild at Heart), so count me in for more listening.
As a result of all the new stuff, the dev team is raising Cloud Gardens' price to $17.99, but it's discounted for the next week on Steam.