28th Dec2017

Digital Shorts: ‘Plantera DX’ Review (Nintendo Switch)

by Matthew Smail

In DIGITAL SHORTS we review some of the latest video games that are only available digitally (at least in the UK), in a short-form review format. In this edition we take a look at Plantera DX, a Switch port of a former 3DS and Wii U game from Ratalaika Games.

plantera-screen-1

Plantera DX is not the kind of game I play often. It’s also not the sort of experience that I want to see ported over to the Nintendo Switch in great numbers, such is the level of interactivity that it offers. With that said, Plantera DX surprised me with its charm, simplicity and addictive gameplay loop, not to mention a very appealing price point.

Rather than being the kind of farming or cultivation simulator that the name suggests, Plantera DX is actually a ported (and marginally expanded) version of a 3DS and Wii U game that is almost completely built around time spent outside the game. You’ll plant seeds that represent three tiers of garden (ground, shrub and tree height) and then harvest the fruit and veg that they produce.

Although tapping away at the screen or hammering the A button will yield a rapid return, the real work happens when you turn the game off or put down your Switch, because an army of little blue helpers will continue to gather whatever should fall in your absence. This means that when you return, you’ll simply be told that you’ve gained an amount of money. The sum you’ll gain is always dependant on how much you’ve already planted and how well protected your garden is from crows, foxes, wolves and other ne’er-do-wells that might pinch your output.

As you gain more and more money, you gain more and more access to new plants, animals and bonus items such as manure, which can increase your output for a set amount of time or provide another, similar benefit. The garden can be extended quite a bit as well (although not infinitely) should you have the money. As with most games like this, the more of each item (or expansion) you buy, the more expensive each upgrade becomes.

Plantera DX is the first game of its kind that I’ve played which did not feature in-game micro-transactions, which is certainly a bonus in my opinion, although it also means that there is no competitive edge really. It’s just you, your garden and your willingness to keep popping in to the game to reinvest whatever you’ve earned. There’s little to no actual gameplay here and yet, after over a week of revisiting the game, I haven’t uninstalled it.

Plantera DX isn’t going to win prizes, but it is cheap as chips and very relaxing. It’s possible to create aesthetically pleasing gardens and create ideal anti-pest conditions, but that’s more or less all you’ll do besides continually expand your holdings. It’s mind-numbing and slightly addictive, and I’d say it can only really exist on a handheld, but if it sounds like it might appeal – then it probably will.

**½  2.5/5

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