With Earth Day right around the corner, there couldn’t have been a better time for developer Oceanhouse Media to dust off The Lorax, Dr. Seuss’ classic allegory about the environment and the impact we have on it. If you have a green thumb and you’ve been looking for an app that’ll let you scratch that gardening itch, Lorax Garden might just be the game you’re looking for.
The story in Lorax Garden picks up where the end of The Lorax leaves off. If you haven’t read the book, whether you’re young or old, put a bookmark in this review and track down a copy right now. Cat in the Hat may be Dr. Seuss’ best known work, but it’s far from his most important. The Lorax is a tale of man’s impact on the environment told in an endearing style that only the incomparable Seuss could pull off. If you’re too embarrassed to go into the children’s section of the book store, don’t worry – there’s an e-book version available in the App Store.
For those who’ve yet to read it, we’ll cut right to the chase. At the end of the book the readers are informed that the world doesn’t have to be mowed down in the name of progress, but it’s up to us to change our ways. “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Lorax Garden puts that choice to care a whole awful lot right in the palm of your hands.
More an objective-based gardening simulator than an actual game, you’ll travel from land to land transforming dreary landscapes into wonders of nature by growing trees and flowers. Each land will require a certain number of trees, which you’ll grow in pots by planting seeds and watering them. As you wait for them to grow you can plant flower seeds in a mini-game that will earn you ‘care hearts.’ These hearts, in turn, can be used to speed up the growth of trees.
Every tree and flower you complete gets added to the scenery of the land you’re trying to salvage. Once you’ve completed the level you’ll be able to share this scene with your friends as a postcard via email. We were a little disappointed that you couldn’t share via Facebook or some other social site, but as a game with zero multiplayer functionality, it’s easy to forgive them for overlooking the other benefits of incorporating social networks.
As you open up more lands to restore you’ll gain the ability to customize your truffula trees – first with color, then later with shape and stem options. More seed packets will open up too, providing different flowers and new challenges like bees and beetles. The bulk of the gameplay will be spent with the flowers, as care hearts become an important currency if you want to proceed through the levels with any type of haste.
Growing flowers is a much more involved process than growing truffula trees, which merely need to be planted and watered. With flowers you’ll need to weed, scare away beetles, and try to not scare away bees who can earn you more care hearts. The further into the game you get, the more challenging things become. You’ll need to keep their water levels perfect while balancing weed pulling and beetle scaring. It sounds like a big ordeal, but don’t worry. Even at its most difficult, Lorax Garden remains an incredibly simple experience.
As a big fan of zen gaming, Lorax Garden was right up my alley. But with so little to actually do and no real challenge, it might not be for everyone. The game seems well-suited for kids, which is clearly the intended audience, but as for adults? If you’re willing to try something intentionally mellow and relaxing, you’ll find a lot to like in Lorax Garden. If you need edge of your seat excitement, though, you should probably give this one a pass.