Manifold Garden (PS5) Review – What a Long, Strange Trip

Manifold Garden Review

Released in 2019 to overwhelmingly positive feedback, Manifold Garden has arrived on the PlayStation 5 to once again challenge players with its unique take on the puzzle-adventure genre. It’ll stump you in (mostly) all the right ways, but more importantly, thanks to its hypnotizing visual style, it will leave you questioning what really is the meaning of infinite. Whether you’re a fan of the original or new to Manifold Garden, there’s never been a better time to jump in.

I would rarely use the term “blown away” when describing the impression a game leaves upon me after my initial play-through. I’ve seen so much at this point that it’s become difficult to be surprised. But Manifold Garden is unlike anything I’ve ever been through. The puzzles are clever (if not a tad unbalanced), and the audio design is serviceable. However, the real star of the show is the incredible visual style that developer William Chyr Studio lovingly crafted.

Manifold Garden started routinely enough, confining me to a small space surrounded by elementary puzzles requiring a pinch of brainpower. Par for the course, as any puzzle game fanatic would tell you. But it wasn’t long before I made it outside. And upon taking my first steps into the Garden, I began to understand that much of the game is more about whisking players off on a visual journey, as opposed to sending them down a stream of never-ending conundrums.

To Infinity and Beyond

Rooms are built using geometry to loop the levels into themselves. It’s a concept that’s been attempted before, but I’m not quite sure if it’s ever been done as well as it is in Manifold Garden. Typically, when playing something from this genre, I’m the kind of person that – mid-puzzle – falls asleep on the couch. But Manifold Garden kept me awake, alert, and invested with its masterful design.

I wish the same could be said about the puzzles themselves. Don’t get me wrong; a lot of them strike the right balance between challenging and accessible. Though, I don’t feel like the pacing was as smooth as it could have been. I would often run into a puzzle or two that were relatively easy to solve and then inevitably hit a brick wall. It would have been much appreciated to feel as if the difficulty was on a steady incline instead of a rollercoaster. Even there were times that I was celebrating not because I had finally found a solution but because I persevered without turning the system off.

The score also left a bit to be desired. There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, but there isn’t much to find exciting about it, either. Synth-like tones are used to create a futuristic vibe that permeates every aspect of Manifold Garden. And it works. Though, from start to finish, it all felt as if it blended into one big piece of music. If there was a saving grace to be found in the sound design, surely it’s in the excellent technique used to simulate falling at high speed. The wind screaming past as you plummet both to and away from where you leaped is flawless. It’s so good that I hope William Chyr Studio now has plans for a skydiving game in the very near future.

Issues do arise in Manifold Garden, but nothing that detracts from the overall experience. Minor audio hiccups with pepper themselves throughout your play-through. I also ran into some difficulty with the game not always registering my input when picking up a block. This didn’t happen often, but it was enough for me to think there must have been something that slipped past the testers. Regardless, Manifold Garden is a treat that puzzler fans will easily digest.

A Good Garden May Have Some Weeds

I don’t know if I would say I had a “blast” with Manifold Garden, but that’s only because I suck at puzzle games. What I do know is make no mistake; this one should not be missed if you consider yourself a riddle aficionado. Absolutely brilliant visuals make way for genuinely engaging levels that had me scratching my head and pumping my fist in victory. Sure, there are a few minor setbacks, the main one being problems with the pacing. But all-in-all, Manifold Garden is fantastic.

***PlayStation 5 code provided by the publisher***

The Good

  • Unique Visuals
  • Satisfying
  • Genuinely Clever

The Bad

  • Hit or Miss Difficulty
  • Sound Design a Bit Too Basic
  • Minor Bugs