Steam recently recommended a little indie game to me, by the name of Plantera. This game, developed by one person, is a cute version of the clicker game formula – only instead of whaling on evil creatures to collect uncountable riches, the aim is to slowly cultivate a beautiful garden full of plants, animals and small blue creatures.
Initially. you only have one type of plant and a miniscule garden available, but as you level up you gradually unlock more types of plants and eventually animals too. Plants and animals have to be bought and only so many can fit into the garden depending on its size. The little blue creatures act as helpers and do most of the hard work of harvesting for you so you can put your feet up and admire the colourful graphics. The helpers cannot be bought and are earned at certain levels or when a garden is expanded a certain amount – your garden can be expanded to become huge, although finite. You can also buy permanent upgrades such as fertilizer which acts as a multiplier to the amount you earn per item you harvest. There are also enemies in the game such as crows and wolves who want nothing better than to spoil your day by stealing your crops or harassing your animals. Fortunately, you can defend against these nuisances by purchasing scarecrows and guard dogs to keep them at bay.
That’s really all there is to Plantera gameplay wise. The game is simple, yet surprisingly engaging and keeps you involved by having extra clickables like butterflies and ladybirds that your helper creatures can’t collect. Every now and then, the Loot Hero will also appear and if you click on him as he passes you will get a nice little cash bonus. As in most games of this type, the cost of items (be they plants, animals or upgrades) rises significantly with each item of that type purchase. At the time of writing, one cow will cost me 3.73m gold, for example. Plantera also has a couple of interesting variations on the typical clicker game format in Plantera: there is no ability to reset with permanent upgrades and the helper creatures will only work for a certain amount of time when the game is turned off.
Of these, the first means that as I’m now over level 100 progress has slowed significantly and there doesn’t seem to be an obvious way to speed it back up and the second severely limits the income I make whilst I’m off playing Stardew Valley or sleeping. The amount of time the helpers will spend working after the game is turned off is able to be increased, but it costs a lot of money. Another irritant is that there are only 19 unique types of “production” units (plants and animals) in the game, so after you have unlocked them all, all you are doing is increasing their profitability (denoted by stars on the portrait). I would really like to see more variety of plants and animals in this game and hope that the developer will include them in the very active development cycle.
All in all, though, Plantera is what it is – a simple clicker game. However, even though I’m at the point where things feel very slow, I still enjoy firing it up and just watching it go. The graphics are really cheerful and the music is pleasant even a couple of hours into the session. As Plantera is still in active development, I’m hopeful that more content will be added to liven up the end game, but I would still recommend it as it is because I’ve already had a lot of game time out of it and anticipate much more in the future!
Plantera is developed and published by VaragtP and is available on Steam for £1.99.