Prune: a meditative game.

Will Wright has compared playing SimCity to gardening, suggesting that the methodical pruning of the city recalls the care of agronomy even more than that of urban planning. 5 Wright’s use of gardening is metaphoric, but there are also more literal examples of videogame gardens that induce calm.

The karesansui, or Japanese dry garden, is a pit with rocks and sand that can be raked in the patterns of water ripples. Like meditation, the garden offers the visitor calm, presenting only a few objects of interest. It is often called a Zen garden in the West, a term that some Japanese garden proponents oppose for reasons of imprecision. No matter, the idea of tending to nature as a way to focus on oneself to elicit calm can be true of all kinds of gardening, from dry gardens to herb gardens.
— Ian Bogost, How to Do Things with Videogames

This week I began playing Prune, an  iOS game with a very simple premise: prune trees until their flowers bloom.

The trees themselves grow quickly.  You swipe your finger up from the ground and the trunk of the tree starts sprouting into the air. Each level (in level 1) begins in shade, and limbs begin to branch out in multiple directions to reach the sun (there are obstacles in the way of direct sunlight) so that flowers can bloom. This completes a level.

In order to help the tree reach the sunlight, you have to prune limbs, just as the title suggests. This is your only action as the player. All you do is aid the plant's growth. That's it. The result is something truly meditative.

I have not progressed far into the game--I've completed all 12 levels of the first stage--so this isn't by any means a comprehensive review. But I can tell you is how this game has made me feel thus far: relaxed. 

Monument Valley was a crowning achievement, and it made me feel a sense of awe. But it did not relax me in the same way Prune has. And that's fine. They are different games, with different aims. The two share a similar aesthetic, but where Monument Valley was a beautiful and complex puzzle, Prune is a beautiful and simple problem. The solitary mechanic of cutting limbs is your only interaction with the tree after it sprouts; the rest is determined by the environment. The player aids the tree, but does not do so by defeating the environment. Instead, you're helping create something beautiful, non-intrusively, by bringing vegetation to a barren expanse.

Prune is the perfect sort of game to play at the end of the day in order to enter a calm state of mind.