Cloud Gardens Review

In general, games are more often than not focused on providing some kind of challenge to the player.

From action-focused experiences where you must master the mechanics in order to progress, to mind-bending puzzles that can only be solved by the sheer power of your brain, there are many different formats and genres that games choose to explore as a means of providing an engaging experience for the player. Yet, there are a few select types of games that opt to provide an experience that is almost entirely deprived of challenge.

Games like Plantera, Townscaper, and Islanders are just a few examples of titles that are designed as relaxing brainless experiences where you can just chill for a couple of hours, where you don’t really need to deal with anything getting in your way. In some cases, these titles feel more like a toy than a proper game, and that’s the exact category Cloud Gardens falls into.

Cloud Gardens
You’re the gardener of a post-apocalyptic world.

With a charming minimalist art style that blends 3D environments with beautifully-detailed pixelated textures, Cloud Gardens is a light puzzle game built on top of a peculiar premise. You know the standard vision we have of post-apocalyptic scenarios, where the wildlife has taken the world back for themselves, and once cold and towering city landscapes have been completely overrun by foliage (similar to the ones we have seen recently in Kirby and the Forgotten Land)? In Cloud Gardens, your objective is to build those kinds of scenarios.

Cloud Gardens
Each level comes with a different theme, including the most verdant rooftops.

With each of the 100+ levels found in Cloud Gardens, you are presented with a different diorama-like miniature that works as a snippet of this post-apocalyptic world but an empty version of it. With different themes that change as you progress through the game, you will be responsible for filling with foliage places such as highways, junkyards, railroads, and rooftops, to name but a few examples. Cloud Gardens isn’t completely devoid of all challenge though. Despite being a chilled experience where you can play without too much care or thought, it does come with a few puzzle-like mechanics.

This happens as a consequence of what you need to do in order to complete each scenario. When you start each level, the diorama world is mostly empty. You may see a few elements here and there such as old cars, transit plates, or abandoned buildings, but the only thing you will be able to interact with are the seeds you may find scattered through the level. With a pointer that you control with the left stick, you can select the seeds and choose where you want to plant them. That’s an important decision and composes the first step in Cloud Gardens’ basic gameplay loop because certain seeds can only be planted in specific places.

Cloud Gardens
As you progress, new types of seeds are introduced.

After choosing where to plant the seeds, you need to help them grow. As weird as it may sound, you do that by placing random human-related objects nearby. Plaques, dolls, tools, debris, and barrels are just a few of the many different remnants of our civilization present in the game. Basically, depending on the size of these objects, they will have an aura of influence that will be smaller or bigger (represented by a circle around it). Place it in a position where a seed or a plant will be inside that circle, and you will watch that plant start to grow instantly.

The biggest strategic element of Cloud Gardens lies in deciding where to plant seeds and where to position these objects because you will want to become efficient in an effort to have objects influencing multiple seeds. In addition to that, once the plant grows to a certain point, it will start producing flowers or fruits, which can be harvested in order to create more seeds. In most levels, you need to maintain a steady flux of placing new seeds and new objects, because you can only finish the level and move forward once a certain portion of the map is filled by plants (which is represented by a percentage marker at the bottom of the screen).

Cloud Gardens
It is a shame that you can beat most levels in the same way.

For better or worse, that’s as far as the strategy goes in Cloud Gardens. For a game that proposes itself as a chill experience, this basic gameplay loop does more than enough to create something minimally engaging, as it adds at least a basic layer of planning to how you will build your post-apocalyptic landscapes. As the game progresses, new types of objects and seeds will be introduced, which helps to keep things fresh, as some seeds can only be planted on walls or soil, among other interesting limitations.

Unfortunately though, that still isn’t enough to transform Cloud Gardens into anything more than a chill pastime. Despite the different types of seeds and objects in each level, the game basically plays the same from start to finish. While having more than 100 levels could be seen as something good, they rarely offer anything unique enough and quickly becomes repetitive. If you are looking for a relaxing experience, you may enjoy Cloud Gardens in short bursts. Otherwise, there are other (more interesting) puzzle games available on Switch.

Cloud Gardens £13.99


Cloud Gardens walks a tenuous line between being a proper puzzle game and a challenge-less toy box. The result is an almost mindless yet relaxing experience that unfortunately overstays its welcome.