Welcome to the Manifold Garden!
No, I have no idea what that means either but you can prepare to have your brain scrambled by this gravity-defying puzzler.
Not unlike Paradox Vector, Manifold Garden has you roaming a logic-defying maze where staircases stretch away into infinity and gravity can be manipulated with the push of a button. There’s the shadow of a story propelling these non-Euclidean shenanigans but you’ll be too busy gawping at the gorgeous, semi cell-shaded graphics to really care. That, or you’ll be scratching your head so hard that you’ll get brain matter on your fingers.
Tricky as it can be, Manifold Garden is a joy to play. You progress through the game’s mind-bending chambers by placing coloured blocks on their respective stands, which sounds simple enough. The ability to switch gravity between planes seems like an absolute gift. Behold the gravity god! And then you realise that, when you step onto another wall, the coloured block you were carrying slips out of your hands.
Suddenly things are a little more complicated; how are you going to stop the green block from falling out of your reach? Wait… what if you use the other block to hold it in place and… yes! Victory! See that, Newton? You can take your apple and shove it right up your arse.
Each victory (unlike that apple) tastes so very, very sweet. As absurd as the world’s rules and systems are, by conventional standards at least, they start to make a mad kind of sense.
Instead of being terrified of the abyss that stretches out beneath the maze, you start to see it as a safety net, knowing that you can fall as long as you like and still land safely on that elusive platform. Who needs long fall boots when there’s no bottom? And, like Portal before it (it’s absolutely the law that you can’t discuss a 3D puzzler without referencing Valve’s oeuvre), finally cracking each conundrum is supremely rewarding.
The one thing I wish Manifold Garden let me do would be to leap between opposite walls, instead of having to traverse the intervening walls but I suspect that would have meant reworking the puzzles.
Manifold Garden is a real treat, whether you’re interesting in proving how smart you are (then kicking yourself for not spotting the solution earlier) or just taking in the gorgeous, logic-defying landscape.
It’s available right now on iOS and PC (via the Epic Game Store), with a PlayStation 4 and Steam version to follow.