Post-apocalyptic games are dime a dozen, but you’ve never played one like this. In Winds & Leaves, rather than punch or shoot your way to safety, you are tasked with re-planting the once vibrant forests of a distant land. You accomplish this by picking fruit from freshly grown trees and then placing them right back into the soil. And then, with a time manipulation device to speed up growth – which makes for some stunning time-lapses – you expand the reach of your foliage. This shelters you from the elements as you try to restart the world and adds much beauty to the environments.
Mechanically, it’s fairly simple, with the actual gameplay not extending far beyond the aforementioned picking and planting. There are some light puzzle elements as you must figure out ways to grow trees in soil with differing characteristics. Fail to match your fruit to these traits, and the trees will wither and die. You do this by making your own hybrids of the fruits you’ve previously harvested, a gratifying accomplishment when you succeed. Unfortunately, each fruit only has one model, so telling the variants apart by sight is impossible. Perhaps more troubling is the limited inventory space, as you can only carry six different fruit variants at any one time. By the end of the game, there are quite a few variables to juggle, making it rather challenging to ensure you have the appropriate materials at the right time.
The game's list of issues outside of its inventory is mercifully short. Climbing trees is janky, but the basic locomotion system – a mechanic where you ride stilts hand-made for the PS Move – is exquisite, so getting around is a breeze. The bigger concern – something that may well be fixed by the time you read this – lies with crashing. The pre-release version of the game we reviewed crashed a ludicrous number of times, and as this is a VR experience, it’s especially disruptive.