Sometimes, it's the smallest part of a video game that ends up making the biggest impact on you. It could be an atmospheric side-quest, or an oddly enthralling mini-game. And sometimes, that smallest part is the whole game, as in the case of Viridi, a meditative, free-to-play title that's all about tending succulents.
The game is simple: you pick a pot, plant some plants, water them, weed them, and wait for them to grow, while a lovely ambient soundtrack plinks away in the background. Its creators have compared it to Tamagotchi, but another point of reference is obviously animator David OReilly's "relax 'em up" Mountain (where you just look after mountain, insomuch as a mountain needs looking after). Viridi came out on Mac and Windows last August, but honestly, we're just covering it now in the hopes that developer Ice Water Games releases the mobile version it's been promising for months.
Viridi reminds me of Viva Piñata — a game that came bundled with my Xbox 360 back in 2006, and that I scoffed at, avoided, tried one day out of boredom, and then got super into. As a slow-paced gardening sim, Viridi ticks some of the same boxes, but it's obviously a lot smaller in scope. You can buy extra seedlings and pots, but it's not like you get to expand into a bigger garden or a virtual greenhouse, which is a bit of a shame. (On a side note, Ice Water Games obviously thought a lot about their implementation of microtransactions, and wrote about it sort-of convincingly here.)
Anyway, if you want to take some time out on your computer, and maybe learn a little about botany too, Viridi is available via Steam today. As Zoe Vartanian, the game's creative lead, says, it's a game that's all about finding your "ideal happy place." Vartanian told Fast.co last year: "I realized I wanted to make some beautiful little world where everything's pleasant, and you can just hang out there, and tend to things." Amen to that.