Do you like tending succulents? Are you a fan of earthenware pots with geometric designs? Have you ever wanted to sing to a snail? If you answered "god yes please" to all three of these questions, then I have just the thing for you: Viridi, a zen gardening game that came out on desktop last year and launches today on iOS and Android.
Viridi combines botany with the gameplay mechanics of a very chill Tamogotchi. You pick a pot, put some seedlings in it, and then just check in every now and again to water them, dig out the weeds, and talk to that snail that's making a circuit around your pot. There are no real goals to be achieved (apart from keeping your plants alive long enough to flower — a process that can take weeks), but the game's stripped-down graphics and relaxing soundtrack are a draw in their own right.
What might be less attractive is Viridi's freemium pricing model. The game is free to download, and with that you get a pot and a pot's worth of seedlings. But to access the title's more interesting succulents you need to pay $0.99 for between three and 10 seedlings (or wait for them to be awarded to you randomly week by week). You can also buy extra pots and new backdrops, including a minimalist apartment and a house that belongs to a sunglasses-wearing cat.
Developer Ice Water Games says this free-to-play mode was the end-point of much thought and consideration. It originally planned for new seedlings to be unlocked by simply playing the game, but said this meant "paying attention to and nurturing your plants wasn’t the goal, but a hurdle the user had to get through." Introducing microtransactions, it says, made users value each individual plant more and pay more attention to the gameplay.
File this under "your experience may vary." While it's certainly good that Ice Water Games hasn't turned Viridi into a grind for more and more plants, it may frustrate some players that there aren't at least some free items you can work your way toward, or pay for if you felt like it (like in Neko Atsume, for example). Still — that's a quibble that doesn't detract from Viridi's overall charm. Check it out on iOS and Android if you feel like you need a little more zen in your morning commute.