Today was a good day. Considering that I rarely have time to play my games anymore, I spent most of my Sunday in the company of three small recent acquisitions: Canopy, Aleph Null, and Floriferous. And since this was an occasion worth mentioning, I came here to share my thoughts with you.
Canopy is first and foremost a feast for the eyes. Vincent Dutrait has made the exotic flora and fauna so lush, so rich, so inviting... This is a very simple set collection game in which you compete against an AI. It is mostly push your luck for both sides with only a tiny bit of strategy. Somehow it doesn't feel stupid though. I quite enjoy trying to get the ferns, the monsteras, the bromelias I need to score those leafy points. You grow your trees, you place cute animal tokens on them, it just feels good.
Verdict: stay away if looking for meatiness. This one is light like a summery salad.
I was not new to Aleph Null, since I had played the PnP version a couple of years ago. And, to be honest, I prefer the charming folk witchcraft illustrations of that version to the published one. The artist is obviously skilled but the atmosphere is too cold and detached for my liking. Anyway. In terms of gameplay, this one is thinky.
If you are distracted and don't make combos in your brain as you put the cards down, you are most likely going to lose. As in every magickal operation, the magician has to be focused. In this case, there are too many objects on the altar and you have to know what to do with each of them and when. Tidy mass, tidy mind. I only managed to score at the Adept level.
Verdict: Baphomet demands your full attention. Not to be played when your energy is depleted.
A crow among the flowers
At fist glance, I couldn't stand the washed-out pastels in Floriferous. To me, it matches the music we often hear in Japanese point-and-click games: those sugary tunes that create the sense of fake coziness. Anyway, not really a problem, I got used to the game's artwork and it doesn't bother me. I used to own Herbaceous but eventually decided that it doesn't offer enough and I sold it. Compared to that, Floriferous is much better. Quite good, in fact.
I believe it strikes the right balance between thinky and relaxing. You have to spend a few moments comparing what's on offer to what scoring objectives you have, but it's not taxing on the brain. That said, it's not easy to score high, and that's not because of the crow AI. I'm just not very good at it but I don't mind. It really is a pleasant game. And I used to like Japanese point-and-click games too.
Verdict: Recommended as a simple but not simplistic pastime.
Overall, no regrets about my purchases. Each game offers something different, and each of them is quite good at what it does. Aleph Null and Floriferous are quicker to play than Canopy and easier to reset and go again. I really miss my hobby these days, so these small games gave me the chance to reconnect with the joys of cardplay. Hopefully it won't be too long before I come back.