care&control is about creation and cultivation, but it also seems to be about destruction.
You play as the caretaker of a deteriorating world, and must travel across it planting flowers, harvesting seeds, and distributing them around dark chasms located on the planet.
The entire process, from the controls, visual effects, and sounds, is at first very soothing, but there are a few jarring moments once you begin to experiment.
In one moment, you can pour all your energy into a budding flower and watch it prosper into a large, pink blossom, and then immediately hammer it back down into a pulp. Doing so gives you seeds, which you can plant into the world’s trenches to bring about larger, darker flowers.
There’s a meanness to it that feels at odds with the game’s subtle beauty, but also at place in its eeriness. It’s even there in the name. To care is good, to control is a potential step into much darker territory.
You also don’t have to play in the way indicated above. You don’t have to play any particular way at all. The essence of care&control is in its pacing. It seems so begin in that middle ground between cultivation and eradication, and let you decide how to engage with those two things.
At the start, I spent a while just circling the planet and listening to the strange, howling winds that seemed to emanate from the warping void all around, which was a fulfilling experience in itself.
care&control is a remake of a prototype with the same name, made for last year’s Toronto Game Jam. This new version is playable on Windows and Mac, still in early access.
You can purchase it for $2.99 on itch.io. It comes with a seizure warning for flashing colors.
Its developer, Arielle Grimes, also has several other games available for a donation or free on her itch.io page.