Visuals and Graphics: 7/10
Gameplay Mechanics: 2/10
Overall score: 4/10; TLDR
I did not buy this in a bundle. I bought it solo on IndieGameStand for $1 because it looked great.
This interactive screensaver (**not game) is tolerable for $2-3. $5 is too much
This application is like an alpha concept demo. LIke wandering through a 1st person shooter with no bullets or melee, you get a good sense of feel of the presentation without any game mechanics implemented.
The gameplay is missing. Like a small developer who had a beautiful project envisioned which he never had time to finish. Rather than junk all the work, he/she releases the incomplete alpha app (avoiding the word 'game'). I get it. Developing a game is tough; life moves forward; the author must eat; other priorities overshadow this project. I think it is a beautiful project. Sell the Alpha for $1 maybe and perhaps finish it at a later date.
If the author were to finish the game, I envision a bear eating berries and having a transformative effect on the environment. Or a bee or collection of bees pollinating the neighborhood and effecting change on the makeup of the flora. (The dev is like a bee--he works very hard, and we gamers come expecting delicious honey for next to nothing $$ and do not care whether the worker starves for his hard work. I actually applaud what the author started here.)
However, again, there is NO real game mechanic. I read the reviews that say this app was meant to behave as a tranquil zen sandbox--No, that is a cop-out excuse for a demo released before it had a game built around the concept.
I have extra time on my hands, so I can drop my 12 hours into this game for even Zen foolishness. Most of you cannot--play 15-30 minutes of this, then Uninstall. The app is like painting your house with a trimming brush and full set of watercolors. It takes forever but you end up with a nice kaleidoscope result. That is all that happens.
The app even mocks you with fake/useless collectibles and makes parallel references to the futility of life. Why not take this beautiful app as the pollen/seed spreader and tack on a few simple game mechanics. (ex: Cultivate this red plant in the NE side of the garden. The Blue plants and ladybugs and animals flourish as you succeed.) Something weak and simple but producing/accomplishing a small goal. Rinse and repeat for a few dozen challenges. The sandbox all works mostly the same, but gives some reason to play or some bother to polinate/transfer/spread each plant color.
Instead, there are no instructions--nothing accomplished--All the plants, bushes and trees have their own inherent colors that do not change. Your only action is to paint a hue to the ground/grass beneath them by picking nearby color from a unchangeable plant. As you paint, there are 100 other bugs slowly painting the areas that you have brought to life--so you have no real control of color.
Instead, you paint the world with a tiny trim brush. Do a little--then do a lot until you see that it is not getting any better but the world is incomplete, so one might grind for the futility of a full color completion. The world needs to be 5 to 10 times smaller because it takes too damn long for no better finished result.
Pursuit of Achievements is a silly set of badges in many games. There are a plethora of nonsensical achievements. "Make a swollen and fertile world" 0/50 What?! How would any of this be accomplished? "Sprinkle a modest joy over the world" 0/20. It wants you to cover 20% of the world with Yellow. Over half of the areas are painted by bugs with a semi-permanent color which the player cannot change. So, how would I get 20% of the world yellow? Most of the achievements revolve around a find-a-needle-in-a-haystack subgame. After walking the whole world around and making small interactions--you will quickly accomplish quite a few nonsense achievement. (Bump into 1 beetle.)
The only controls are WASD (configurable + controller) Remember I have the luxury of doing nothing but wander for hours WASD, redipping the paintbrush every few feet, After revealing color to the world 6 hours later, I was about to uninstall the app. 4 of the needles-needles-in-the-haystack are colored runes that go into the useless stacks of Zen sayings, Zen history, Zen coins, Zen jewels, Zen artifacts. All useless.
SPOILER ALERT that should have been put in the nonexistant instructions/tutorial:
6 hours done, ready to uninstall, it turns out, that if you click the 4 Runes while standing still 6 times, your paintbrush will drop a few paintballs which will bounce around and change a small to medium area around you. It is random--so you have a new tool which just introduces more randomness into the world. Not a means to guide the color development. Now there is a population of little people that walk around with their paintbrushes too. So, instead of competing with the 300 bugs, you now also compete with 100s of "LittleThings" that also shift the colors of the environment. No control. Just beautiful paints wandering the canvas--with your tiny ability to shift the localized colors a bit. The rest of the world shifts as it wants.
Keep doing that for hours instead crafting the look of the gardens, or making honey, or scaring a competing hive out of the neighborhood, or stinging the brutish humans who trample the gardens. All of these mechanics are missing.
Beautiful interactive screensaver game though. 4/10.