Viridi is a game about growing potted succulents in real time. Yes, really.
Viridi on PC
I’ve seen plenty of games, from Harvest Moon to Minecraft, that allow players to try their hand at raising plants. What I haven’t come across much of, outside of the Zen Garden mini-game in Plants vs. Zombies, is ones that focus on the potted variety rather than farming. Enter Viridi, a curious and arguably zen-like game from Ice Water Games, which not only allows players to tend to potted succulents, but does so in a relatively real-time way that’s quite unlike anything else I’ve played.
Now, you may find yourself wondering, as I did, why Viridi is put together the way that it is. After all, there’s not a lot of compelling gameplay to dive into. You won’t find hidden rooms, unlockable treasures, or fantastic adventures. Much like a potted plant on a work desk, Viridi is there as something to check in on. Your plants can die if you over- or under-water them, sure, but for the most part, it’s pretty forgiving. Players can name their plants, buy seedlings, and generally don’t have much interaction with them outside of watering or “singing” to them. So, what’s the appeal?
Viridi is one of those titles that’s not bound to the standard definitions of games. First, of course, is the lack of excitement or engaging interactions. Moreover, your plants will continue to grow — or die — without you even opening the game. Even when you’re not checking on them, just like their real-life counterparts, these slowly expanding and sometimes-thirsty leafy pets will continue to exist. I can see how it would be a cool, kind of meditative thing to have running on a work computer if your employer is one that allows such things. If not, don’t worry — players can easily keep their potted pals going checking in once every day or two to ensure proper watering.
It’s almost impossible for me to attach a score to something like Viridi. That’s not because I didn’t enjoy my time with this free-to-play title, but because it can’t really be judged by any of the normal criteria. The controls, such as they are, are pretty intuitive, but that’s not even really a concern. Did I overwater and kill a plant within about five minutes of playing? Sure, but I simply plucked it from the pot and moved on. The rest of the plants did not react. There was no demeaning message, no “you’ve lost!” to deride my lack of a green digital thumb. The pot simply continued to exist, ambivalent to my outright murder of one of its residents.
As I mentioned, Viridi is free to play. There are, of course, in-game transactions: you can buy new seedlings to plant, so that you can fill your potted world with your favorite varieties of succulent. A weekly free seedling is also provided, so you can still get plenty of options without having to spend money on this soothing, if bizarre, title. I also said above that it’s almost impossible to score; that said, this is a review, and it’s my job as the reviewer to put together some arguments either for or against the title. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the admittedly-minimal features.
First, of course, Viridi offers a pretty solid list of plants for players to tend. There’s also a snail that’ll make its way around the rim of your little world. Players can name their snail, or even water it if they’re so inclined, changing its status from “Wow cute” to “Wet”. Other than this, there’s not much to say; if you’re into trying new things that won’t put you out any cash, you can pick it up on Steam. If all of the above sounds dull, though, skip over it. You won’t find anything that’s truly groundbreaking here, but you may find a relaxing experience if you’re the type of person that’s always wanted to grow a desk plant but just haven’t had luck with the real-world variety.