Botany Manor Review – Growing strong

Reviewed April 9, 2024 on PC


Xbox One, PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X|S


April 9, 2024


Whitethorn Games


Balloon Studios

I’ve never been all that good at gardening, despite being a person who loves plants and wants a home full of them. So Botany Manor sounded like a bit of a dream to me, a game where being good at puzzle-solving makes you good at growing plants. Developed by Balloon Studios, Botany Manor is a puzzle game that doesn’t put too much stress on its players, designed to be more relaxing and therapeutic than challenging.

Set within the sprawling titular Botany Manor, the game follows Arabella Greene as she works to compile research on rare and unusual plants for her Herbarium. All of these plants have interesting requirements that need to be met before any of them start to sprout. The meat of the game is figuring out how to create the perfect conditions for each of these plants.

Botany Manor toes the line between the fantastical and realism brilliantly. Even some of the most bizarre actions you have to perform in service of growing the plants are still explained in a way that roots the game in just the right spot for you to be able to suspend your disbelief. Like a plant that only grows in volcanic soil needing incredibly high temperatures to grow, or another that only blooms at a certain time of day during a certain time of year and needs you to trick it into growing with some clever work and a projector.

In practice, figuring out how to care for a plant involves a lot of investigation. Clues on what natural conditions the plants usually grow in can be found around the manor and then collected in the Herbarium where they can then be applied to the correct plant. From there, it’s all about putting what you’ve learned into practice. It’s a really clever way to make the plants more intriguing, working out just how to get them growing is like untangling a mystery all on its own and then figuring out how to actually complete the steps yourself with whatever you can find in the manor is a lot of fun. Realising how one tool can effectively work as a stand-in for natural conditions allows you to feel very clever. Puzzles ramp in difficulty in a very satisfying way, and while they never get nail-bitingly difficult, there is a sense of accomplishment when you figure out exactly what the game wants from you in the later stages of the story.

My only complaint with this system is that once the clues have been added to your Herbarium, there is no way to review them without going back to where you picked them up in the first place. So sometimes I would forget one of the small components I needed, and then need to do a few laps of the manor to even find the clue that I discovered originally. The Herbarium does list what part of the manor each clue was found in, but sometimes it’s hard to remember which information you got from which clue so you find yourself having to check all of them again anyway. It doesn’t take too long to walk around, and Arabella has a pretty decent sprint speed for a woman of her age, but it was still annoying.

Arabella herself is a very engaging character, she never speaks and you never see her in-game as it’s all from a first-person perspective, but there are lots of notes that can be found throughout the manor that provide more insight into who she is. Being a woman in 1890, she found it incredibly difficult to get her research in botany recognised by anyone other than close friends. There are multiple rejections from scientific groups and publishing companies to be read throughout the game, each of them the same variety of patronising and sexist. It makes the effort to get her Herbarium completed mean something as tangible proof of her skills in science in general and botany in specific.

Botany Manor is awash in calming pastel colours and softly rounded edges that make the manor feel very comfortable and homey to explore. As expected, there are flowers and trees everywhere giving even the indoors a sense of being connected to the outside and it makes the whole of the manor feel like a cohesive space with a good sense of flow. There are even shortcuts that you can unlock back to previous areas of the map which feels delightfully Resident Evil, even despite the drastically different tone.

Some of my favourite moments were when growing a certain plant, a subtle change would be made to the area around it. One of them summons butterflies whereas another helps reawaken the dead tree in the middle of Botany Manor’s entry hall. It always feels good when your actions have a tangible effect on the world around you. The music is also very subtle but adds a lot to the experience. I especially loved the way it swelled each time I received a new delivery to the front gate, and how it continued the energy for the whole walk over until I actually had a chance to collect the mail.

I do wish the places you discover clues in Botany Manor were a little more organic. While the manor is quite picturesque and beautiful, it is baffling where notes and books can be found. Arabella hasn’t been back to the manor in some time, having only just returned at the beginning of the game. And while it makes sense for the manor and its surrounding garden to still be well-maintained (Arabella has been gone, but her groundskeeper and maids have not), it doesn’t make sense for everything to be exactly as she left it. There are notes scattered around outside and a picnic rug still laid out on the grass, for example, making it a little unclear how long Arabella has been gone. It often feels like she was never gone at all.




  • Fun and engaging puzzles
  • Vibrant and comfy art direction
  • Botony Manor is a delight to explore


  • Clues could be easier to access

Exploring Botany Manor is a great experience as everything feels beautifully interconnected and the puzzles are fun and engaging to tackle the whole way through. It makes up for its lack of difficulty with charm in spades and an interesting personal story happening behind the scenes if you know where to look. Putting together the Herbarium is a lot of fun, allowing you to grow some plants you’ll never be able to kill.