I rather love the development cycle of Kasi, a game in which you simply grow a tree. The developer, Kaikalii was working on it in Early Access, adding features and improvements as time went on, until he got a job. So he decided it was done. He’s not wrong.
Kasi starts with the ground and the sky, and the potential of a seed. With your mouse you draw a shoot from below the ground and into the air, and your tree is begun. Then, with the combination of sunlight, water and the energy both provide, you can continue to click and drag on the nodes of the branches to extend them out, each ending in the growth of new leaves. And that, as far as the core mechanics goes, is it. And it’s plenty.
There’s actually a lot more to it. By experimentation you can discover ways to combine leaves into “moon leaves” that will absorb moonlight at night. By laying out your roots carefully you can ensure you’ve always enough water to keep growing. And eventually you can see flowers growing, then the pollination that accompanies these offering fruit, and fruit attracting animals, and…
Each action makes a musical note, and the result is an ambient experience as you craft your plant. And as admittedly minimalist as it is, it’s really surprisingly engaging. I’ve spent very happy hours slowly expanding a tree, watching as day turns to night, and summer turns to autumn. It’s tremendously relaxing, but it’s also artistically rewarding too. As you’ll see if you look at the Steam community pages, people have been really impressively imaginative with a limited set of tools.
Also looking through those shots, there are elements to the game I’ve not discovered yet. Not least the prettiest colours. So yes, it’s a shame that there will only be bug fixes from now on – it’d be great to see this embellish into a bigger, more complex idea. Also, I would love to see a change where only one mouse button moves the screen around, as it’s currently tricky to move branches and leaves without accidentally moving about.
But there’s definitely enough right now for your weeny £4, and it’s captured me (and oddly, my 6yo) for a decent amount of time. Ooh, and as I type a thunderstorm is rolling in over my latest tree!