Art isn’t always easy to classify. Sometimes it neatly falls into one genre or another, but in other instances, it breaks down our clearly defined walls. Generally speaking, video games count as their own medium. They’re interactive media which incorporate elements of other genres, such as music, drawing and animation.
While they all may use different artistic elements, the uniting factor behind the video game medium is the interactive part. That’s why Plantera has confounded me so thoroughly: It’s a “game” which doesn’t actually require much, if any, interaction. So at that point, is it still a game? Plantera is unquestionably the simplest gaming experience I’ve ever had and can be defined in three words: You plant things.
That’s it. There are other actions available, but the core idea is that each plant has a value, and when it’s ripe, you can click to make it fall off the tree and then click again to harvest it. But you don’t have to. Fruits and vegetables fall off their respective flora in their own time, and Plantera gives you an army of tiny blue workers who pick up said produce, eliminating you from the equation altogether.
Sure, the game lets you add animals into your garden, which function the same way the plants do and can generate extra money. But there’s absolutely no objective to the game. Varmints and birds enter your garden from time to time, stealing away some of your plants or frightening your animals, but with no real consequences. You can click on them to scare them off, but it honestly doesn’t matter.
The garden is just sort of there. Once you’ve acquired enough coins, new plants and animals unlock, but all they do is allow you to make more money faster, which allows you to expand your garden so that you can – you guessed it – plant more stuff.
Where Plantera does shine is the atmosphere it creates. The game offers a beautiful, charming soundtrack, with vibrant visuals and a broad color palette. It just feels as though Plantera takes the casual gaming genre too far off the scale, to the point that it really isn’t a video game at all.
Plantera might be an experience that you can use to relax, but it genuinely doesn’t have an objective. As art, it falls into a unique category and is certainly pretty to look at.
But as a video game, it misses the mark entirely.
Plantera gets 2 GiN gems out of 5 for being nice to look at while failing to provide any goals or objectives.