Nurture a Tiny, Lush Garden in Viridi

Ice Water Games' succulent simulator lets you grow a tiny zen garden on your phone.

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Oct 27 2016, 2:21am

I've done horrible things to plants. Crimes, even. There was the patch of potted pet grass that began growing a wispy sort of mold between the stalks, the frail tomato plant I tried to support with wire only to scar and choke it, the christmas cactus that withered and drooped and died even though I swear I followed instructions to the letter. None of this was ever intentional. I was always trying to do right by my plants, I just have a particular knack for failing them.

More recently, I've felt the pull of those trendy, stalwart little succulents, but I've yet to actually buy one because its death feels guaranteed. The lure of those little plants, with their soft edges and soft colors, instead lead me to Viridi.

Ice Water Games' Viridi is not a substitute for tending to real plants, but I'm not sure that it wants to be. Even compared to the average virtual pet raising game it's pretty simple, valuing its minimalistic look over an inflorescence of mechanics.

You can mist your plants, "sing" to them, name them, and rearrange them in one of several colorful little pots. The lack of meters and numbers feels more holistic than most raising simulations, as both are replaced with a handful of words to indicate actions or status. All that really matters in Viridi is how damp the soil is. The rest simply takes time. Check in every day (or whenever you care to, really) and watch your little succulents grow and flourish, expanding upward and outward and flushing with earthy colors.

With its gentle background music looping and the slow progress of one little snail ever inching around the rim of the pot, Viridi is a slow burn of a game as much as it is a small, meditative window to somewhere and something else.

I still aspire to be able to keep a real plant alive some day, and I've let myself believe that playing Viridi has instilled a good habit or two. Every now and then, one of my little sprouts would throw me for a loop. While all the others demand a spritz of water it would already be satisfied, and I have to pull my finger away from the spray bottle's trigger to avoid overwatering.

Maybe, I tell myself, I could apply that same attentiveness to the real thing, rather than watering whether it's needed or not. Maybe.

Viridi is available free for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android devices.