Prune ($3.99) by Joel Mcdonald is an artistic, zen-like game about cultivating trees and growth in a hostile world. If you enjoyed games like Shadowmatic and Monument Valley, then you’re bound to get a kick out of Prune.
While I’ve gone through hundreds of iOS games since my first iPhone many years ago, many of the games don’t stick with me as time passes. In fact, only some games remain memorable, and are what I consider a must-have for everyone. These are the gems of the App Store, because they are the titles that one would consider as a form of art, rather than a game. I’ve only encountered a few of these, but when I saw Prune on the App Store this week, I knew that this was another one of those games.
The visuals in Prune are stunningly beautiful. The game features a minimal look and feel to it, with rich, vibrant colors and deep blacks that contrast nicely with the creamy beige. While the style looks simple, there are some subtle textures going on that give it a bit of depth, and the various hues of gray show the complexity of the lighting in Prune. Animations are smooth and fluid, and the calming soundtrack is a joy to hear.
Prune features several chapters with about 12 levels each, and you have to clear each stage in order to move on to the next one. The goal in each stage is pretty straightforward: grow a tree and shape it properly so that it reaches the sunlight while avoiding the dangerous shadows and other hostile forces of a barren world. As the tree grows in the sunlight, flowers will blossom on the branches and once you have enough blooms to match the diamonds in the sky, then you can move on to the next level. The darkness can cause parts of the tree to die and wither away, so be careful. The game gives you an infinite amount of tries on each stage, so while it can be challenging at times, it is still relaxing. Additionally, there is a story behind everything that you’ll have to uncover as you advance.
The controls in Prune are intuitively designed for touch screens and easy enough for anyone to pick up. At the starting point, just swipe your finger up from the ground to let a tree grow. If you have a bit of a curve in your swipe, it will affect the direction the tree grows in. As it becomes bigger and taller, you have to trim branches off for it to keep sprouting. Trimming is done by swiping your finger across an unwanted branch. If you’re not happy with how a tree is, you can try reshaping it or just plant another in the ground to replace the old one.
While Prune starts off fairly easy, things get a bit more difficult as you progress, since there will be new dangers and mechanics that come into play. Regardless, the game is still a great way to unwind after a long day. Since the game is more like a work of art, players can even share screenshots of their tree creations with a camera button, similar to Monument Valley.
I’ve only started Prune today, but I’m in love with it so far. The game looks gorgeous, the music is delightful, and the controls are intuitive for the platform. While it can be a challenge, it is still a great way to de-stress since you aren’t pressured with time or a limited number of trees.
I highly recommend getting Prune if you enjoy artistic games or just want to chill out this weekend. Prune is available on the App Store as a universal app for $3.99.