Review – Bonsai (Apoch Plays)

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  • Bio: n/a
  • Label: Rooted Concepts
  • Release Date: February 18th, 2016
  • Genre: Simulation
  • Website: Visit Website
  • Rating (out of 10):

Bonsai is a good idea in theory, but it’s developer (and publisher) Rooted Concepts has put very little effort into it, not to mention doesn’t quite know what the concept of a “bonsai plant” is or what one looks like. This title immediately comes off like the most basic of Unity clicker assets, the kind you see accompanying Clicker Heroes knock-offs on various mobile stores, crossed with Viridi except with a price tag and none of that free title’s charm. What’s worse is the Steam community voted for this dreck to be on the Steam marketplace.

Yes, ninety-nine cents US doesn’t seem like much until you start playing what you just bought, or what someone gave you as a gag gift because “You like shit, make a let’s play out of this!” and you’ll feel bad if you don’t. A small patch of land with a sometimes ribbed-for-her-pleasure penis-looking tree that only grows, leans and throbs when the game is running is all you get. The options are sparse as well, and all you can do to the tree is prune it. After two hours I found my mighty Oak finally bloomed, and upon pruning nipped the tip and had to start from scratch. When I did this, however, I was eventually greeted with magical floating leaves with no branches to prune, as shown in the above video.

This title’s also a surprising resource hog that needs a sturdy computer to run. An i7 is required, but for what exactly? The branches! Yes, whenever they show, there’s so many you can choose from to trim and rid yourself of the obvious clip art leaves that seem to grow in at all the wrong angles need strength to go from one highlighted spot to the net. Of course they have an obvious base background color around them, leading me to suspect yet more google images copy and paste tactics like The Slaughtering Grounds was guilty of. The music is also severely out of place and sounds like a cheap knock-off of Train‘s “Hey, Soul Sister” at time, but done with a ukulele and xylophone instead. It made me want to smoke up and chill at a beach barbecue more than relax and trim my “bonsai” tree. A simple Youtube audio library search and I found a royalty free classical piece that better suits the whole purpose of the game, and didn’t cleash with the obvious Viridi knock-off visuals and core concept, so you can’t say finding a similar piece out there on the internet was impossible given the power of Google these days.

Further more, there’s three save spots, and (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) no way to choose which tree to grow. It just happens. Again, nothing grows when the game is running, so you either need a good rig like I do to play something else while it grows (I put another hour into Victor Vran, personally), or just walk away for a bit and hope the appendages of the tree don’t cause your computer to crash or go up in smoke. Seriously, My Name is Mayo could probably run on an old 486, but this sit-back-and-do-nothing-but-watch-a-digital-tree-grow simulation game, the Steam equivilent of the USB Pet Rock, needs a core-i7 and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 card minimum? It all just seems like bad programing to me, really. Perhaps the looped audio made the developer snap before loading it to Steam in the firstplace.

Bonsai honestly just looks and feels like bad/lazy programming on every level. There’s room to make this a fairly zen experience, or offer elements to make it seem like you’re actually nurturing your tree such as weather augmentation controls, laying down mulch or dirt, pulling weeds to make your tiny patch of floating-in-eternal-purgatory land look nice. Hell, even simple customizations like adding a bird house after a certain point would help make it more of an experience, all of which Rooted Concepts completely ignored for what looks like nothing but a quick buck at the expense of the fools who green lit this title, and those looking for a gag gift. Unless you absolutely hate someone or yourself, Bonsai is well worth passing on, especially if you’re eyeing this up solely for achievements (they’re not worth it, trust me on this).

Digital review copy of this release provided by personal funds.