Take Antichamber, a dash of Inception, and then throw in a neo-cubist garden. Welcome Manifold Garden, a wild and infinite playground from the mind of William Chyr on the show floor at this year's E3. It's a never-ending loop-de-loop in a textureless world where players can get their indie fix along with satisfying the green thumb gaming addiction. Luckily, Mr. Chyr was there with us to give the latest build for Garden a whirl.
"You know that scene in Inception where they fold Paris in half and start walking up the wall? That's what you do in this game," Chyr mentioned as the world around me suddenly shifted in a wild direction. Immediately I recognized the tell-tale signs of a puzzler around me as strange cubes and walls started to change color. "You can only interact with green items when you're in the green graphical plane," Chyr added. The walk-on-walls mechanic was really neat, but that was the first of many game mechanics I would see. As I trekked through downtown cubistville, Chyr mentioned some influences from the game.
"Mostly the works Of M.C. Escher, but a lot of games have influened it, Portal, Antichamber, The Witness." He warped us through different levels of random awesome puzzles. We had to figure out how to jump across a massive chasm just using the world-rotate feature. By rotating the world, we fell infinitely through the chasm and discovered there was no bottom--the cube world just repeated itself and we air-walked onto the next platform by slamming into it (a graceful slam).
Chyr led us through several more areas that showed off the game's architectural madness--stairs, bridges, pathways, chasms, and skyscrapers galore littered the vast wasteland of the level. We were curious about endgame content. "You're planting trees and bringing life to the world over time. You discover the cubes are actually food that grow on trees. This allows you to do a lot more things in the game." Thus the Garden part of the game's title. We had a feeling gardening would be something strong here. "It becomes this tale of darkness and light, and you have the choice of bringing life or death to the world. It's much like a parable."
Chyr showed more puzzle mechanics--the cubes that grow on trees have the capability to alter the flow of water and can freeze to open access to different areas. There aren't power-ups or door-opening-guns like someone might find in Antichamber, but the game is entirely knowledge-based and relies on your ability to think critically in areas where physics might not apply.
Releasing on PS4, Mac, PC and even Linux this year, we're going to keep our eyes on this one.
[image source: game website]