Version Reviewed: 1.0.1
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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Prune is a beautifully minimal puzzle game in which players prune trees. For those unfamiliar with tree pruning, this mainly just involves players trimming branches off of a tree so that it grows in a very specific way. Despite not being terribly long, Prune's gorgeous look and novel gameplay make it definitely worth checking out.
Players encounter the same basic setup for each individual stage across any of Prune's five chapters: they must grow a tree in a certain way in order to get enough flowers to blossom and to move on to the next. This starts off easily enough to introduce the basic mechanics, but soon there will be instances where the constant slashing of branches becomes necessary to avoid obstacles like buzzsaws and more ominous red orbs that work as a sort of poison for trees.
While the gameplay itself is pretty fun, the thing about Prune that makes it truly fascinating is its overall aesthetic. It has an extremely limited color palette, dealing mostly in silhouetted figures and the aforementioned red poison. This ends up looking really nice, especially with the smooth animations for Prune's growing trees. More importantly though, these color choices, paired with the game's overall presentation (even down to the animations between chapters), do a phenomenal job of creating a kind of narrative without having to resort to using words in any way.
As fantastically constructed as Prune is, it could still be frustrating for some players. The way that the tree grows isn't exactly uniform, which can result in players having to retry several trees before getting a configuration that's workable to complete a stage. That being said though, Prune is remarkably forgivable in the sense that there are no fail states of any kind, nor is there any amount of time pressure associated with any stages. This makes playing Prune annoying at times, but only mildly so.
Prune is a unique experience that is absolutely worth checking out because it's special in all of the ways that most other games usually aren't. It isn't terribly long, and sometimes it can be a little frustrating to re-grow trees on some challenging levels, but the way it visually explores and unfolds narrative is amazing. This alone makes it a must play.