Simple is often underrated. Simple can be elegant; simple can be deceptively challenging. I say all this to set the stage for Manifold Garden, a passion project by William Chyr which began in November 2012. It was supposed to be something simple, a basic game which he would use to learn the basics of the Unity engine, but Chyr found something magical in simplicity.
Manifold Garden is a gravity-based puzzle game which uses a gravity-manipulation mechanic which allows the player to walk on any visible surface. The minimalist, line-art style graphics could make this world visually confusing if not for the rather brilliant use of color. Each surface you can walk upon has its own color, making the mechanics easy to explain. “You have to be in the blue gravity to move that block,” as an example.
The art really is stunning; the game is filled with Escher-esque architecture that repeats, flips, and, at times, is even bigger on the inside. Because structures repeat, in mathematical ways, puzzle solving is sometimes less about figuring out which surface to walk on and more about deciding which surface to fall off of. The minimalist world feels vast and even overwhelming at times. Falling off the line-art structures made me incredibly uncomfortable at first, but watching the perfectly symmetrical looping structures sail past me quickly became rather soothing.
Manifold Garden offers a huge, puzzle-filled space to explore, and Chyr promised that there are secrets, shortcuts, and hidden gems scattered throughout this warping, winding, wonderful world. It’s easy to get turned around when you are literally turning gravity on its head, but getting lost in this compounding space is half the fun. Check out the video above and get ready to lose yourself in the sounds and shapes of Manifold Garden when it comes to PC and PlayStation 4 later this year. Be sure to check out our E3 coverage to find more interviews and hands-on recaps from E3 2019.