Manifold Garden has been on my radar for a long time, with the Escher-inspired puzzler catching my eye almost immediately when I first saw its geometrically impossible visuals. I mean, just look at the screenshots of the game… it looks INSANE.
There’s more to its world than just crazy environments though, with an array of puzzles to be found across its topsy-turvy landscapes. After a successful launch on PC, Manifold Garden has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4, giving consoles gamers the chance to explore its beautifully disorientating world.
Manifold Garden challenges players to explore an array of insane environments, all whilst solving puzzles, defying gravity, and uncovering the secrets of its wonderful world. I feel like I’ve never played anything quite like it – not necessarily from a gameplay perspective, but in the way that everything seems to be structured in an impossible yet beautifully hypnotic way.
The puzzling of Manifold Garden is actually pretty simple in design, with the core gameplay mechanic based around moving different coloured blocks and positioning them in specific spaces in the environment. Of course, the fact that you’re warping gravity to walk on any surface does complicate matters and you’ll certainly face more than a few head-scratching moments during gameplay (you can expect to be stuck a LOT), but the concept itself is fairly easy to grasp. There are additional clever ideas that come into the mix as you progress and the complexity of the environments you explore will certainly keep you on your toes too, but for the most part the puzzling itself is pretty straightforward.
One aspect of the game that always impressed me when solving puzzles was the way that players can defy gravity. There’s something undeniably cool about being able to walk on the walls and ceilings around you (even if it could feel a little disorientating at times on the Nintendo Switch), whilst falling through never-ending cycles of the environment and cleverly manoeuvring yourself to solve puzzles as you fall never stopped feeling both ingenious and visually impressive. It shows that a lot of thought has gone into the puzzle design of the game and developer William Chyr deserves a lot of praise for the way he has tied them into the ‘impossible’ environmental design of the world.
The puzzling of Manifold Garden is enjoyable and offers more than enough to keep players hooked in, but the true star of the show are the game’s visuals. The Escher-inspired world is simply mind-blowing to explore, with the array of stylish and geometrically intricate locales that surround you feeling mesmerising to gaze upon. There’s this element of impossibility to the way that everything is designed, but, much like Esher’s work, there is a method to the madness and the way that it all ties into puzzle-solving is sublime. It has plenty of moments where it brings vibrancy and bursts of colour into the equation too and it really does make for something special.
You certainly won’t be forgetting Manifold Garden’s world any time soon following the end credits…
Manifold Garden is a really special game, with its beautifully hypnotic world and enjoyable puzzle design making for a truly unique experience. Admittedly, some of the puzzles themselves can be pretty simple in design and there aren’t too many intricate mechanics involved, but you won’t mind too much given how mind-blowing the game world is to explore.
Developer: William Chyr Studio
Publisher: William Chyr Studio
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC