For players who feel like killing time, but not enemies, Plantera might just be the thing. It is a non-violent “clicker” style game where your only goal is to build a garden and watch it grow. Helpers are on hand to assist with the harvesting of the crops and as you expand your garden you’ll also need to safeguard against critters. As you cannot really fail or even win the game, it is purely for relaxing and wasting a few minutes every now and then.
Most clicker games require you to rapidly click on one spot until either your mouse or wrist breaks, but things in Plantera is a bit more sedate. Initially you start out with a small selection of plants, bushes, trees and animals to add to your garden and the options increase as you level up. Little blue characters, called Helpers, show up as the garden grows and you can leave all the hard work of harvesting to them if you wish. If you do want to get your hands dirty you can click once on ripe fruit or vegetables to harvest them and a second time to sell.
The money you earn from selling crops can then be spent expanding your garden, planting new items or buying animals. You can add carrots, turnips, pumpkins, blueberries, eggplants, apples, cherries, lemons and many other crops to your garden along with chickens, pigs, sheep and cows. However, each purchase raises the overall price of the next item of the same type, so things start out very cheap and then become more expensive the more you have. You’ll also have to get rid of the critters who show up from time to time in an attempt to make off with your profits. Rabbits are attracted to carrots, magpies’ love apples and wolves as well as foxes also show up to harass your farm animals. A couple of clicks are all it takes to get rid of them, but even this can be avoided by investing in defenses such as scarecrows and guard dogs.
Not all visitors to your garden are unwelcome as The Loot Hero, a character from one of the developers other titles, also makes a cameo. The Hero is quite useful as he runs across the screen bashing all the critters with his lance and you can also repeatedly click on him to gain extra coins. There is even a convenient popup that appears on screen to herald his arrival and clicking it takes you straight to his location. Apart from investing your money in plants, livestock and defenses you can also purchase manure and alarm clocks. The former permanently increases the coin production multiplier while the latter increases the amount of time your helpers work while you are away from the game. That’s right, you can exit the game and the workers will carry on earning you money, which you receive when you return.
Visually the game is quite basic, but features some charming pixel style graphics. Workers go about their jobs with grim faced determination while butterflies flit about and animals roam everywhere. Even the hostile critters look cute enough that you almost feel bad for chasing them away. Everything is viewed from a side perspective and as your garden expands beyond a single screen you can scroll left or right to view everything. We would have liked to see a zoom feature to keep an eye on the entire garden at once, but there are buttons for quickly moving between the far edges. As far as options are concerned, you are restricted to playing the game in full screen mode or windowed and toggling the music or sound effects on and off. The audio is nice enough, but lacking in variety, so if you play for extended periods you’ll probably end up muting it.
Plantera is by nature a very repetitive game, but it is also a nice stress reliever as you can just zone out and interact as much or as little as you want with your garden. It is also quite addictive, not in the sense that you’ll play for hours straight, but you’ll definitely load it up every day to keep tabs on your garden. It would have been nice to see more varieties of plants and animals as everything on offer is unlocked quite early in the game. It has to be said that the developer appears to be updating the game quite regularly, which is always good to see.
While the mobile roots of Plantera are quite obvious, it still offers a very cheap and cheerful way to kill a few minutes. It is a very casual title, but surprisingly addictive and definitely something you’ll return to every now and then. Unlocking everything doesn’t take very long, but the game is fun while it lasts.