A beautiful organic puzzler, Prune teaches you to let go of what you don’t need to reach your goal. Or, alternatively, it teaches my mum that dad was right – cutting down all the trees in the garden is the best way to make them grow.
There is a poetry to Prune as you cut away the unnecessary to move forward. You goal is to grow a tree, having it reach towards sunlight in order to bloom.
A swipe up starts your seed rapidly growing, but as it starts to slow, you need to begin deciding what parts of the tree you can do without. Slicing away excess branches and twigs with a simple swipe of the finger allows nutrients to be used elsewhere, so slender young branches can reach further. If they reach the light, then they will flower, and with enough petals you complete the level.
Simple, except it isn’t. The organic nature of plants mean that they are hard to bend to your will, so your cuts sometimes have to be thoughtful or unintuitive if you hope to reach those higher shafts of sunshine.
To help with this you occasionally gain access to other abilities. These include an orb that you can drag round the screen to pull new shoots towards it, and other fertile areas of earth that allow you to plant additional seeds in more strategic areas.
The beauty of nature
Objects in the world aren't all helpful, and Prune throws a significant number of hurdles in your path as you strive towards the sun. The landscape actively blocks you, wind buffets and bends your branches from their goal, red orbs that float in space poison your plant, and doors will block your way.
In later stages you will have to battle many of these elements combined. Starting your seed up a narrow shaft, there will be poison avoid in order to reach a switch which opens a door to work your way up. It delicately involved mix planning and fast reactions, as your tree winds its way unpredictably upwards.
The gameplay’s ethos of reaching forward and cutting away the unneeded, is joined by one other poignant messages. As the levels progress they become more technologically advanced, and the number of stages diminish. As technology encroaches on nature there is less space for the plants to grow, and that growth is harder to achieve.
All of this is set in beautiful – near monochrome – 2D landscape. This makes the dangerous red poison areas all the more striking, and as it starts to pollute your flower you can see its influence spreading – drawing your eye to what needs to be cut away.
Spread your branches
Prune is beautiful and with a message and tone that both thought provoking and relaxing. Though it is not long - I easily completed it in a few hours - the random organic nature of its puzzles (and beautiful aesthetic) mean there is plenty of reason to play through it again.