I must admit, Prune [$3.99] snuck up on me though it probably shouldn't have. Made by ex-AAA developers out of Madison, apparently the game had been floating around the midwestern games scene, and I somehow missed it until I got an email about it a couple days ahead of launch. And holy heck, do I wish I had seen this sooner, because Prune is a gorgeous and unique experience.
It's not really like anything you've played, in that it's a game about tree pruning. You draw a line from the base provided in order to draw the tree upward, from which it starts sprouting branches. Now, to help it grow, you must trim off certain branches, which will cause other parts of the tree to grow bigger and better. Essentially, the more substantial the trim, the more that the rest of the tree can grow, though if you cut off a branch, it won't grow any further. Each level gives you the goal of getting the tree to grow a certain amount of flowers, generally by coming in contact with light.
Where the fun and challenge of Prune comes in is that you have to deal with elements like wind, suns that will accelerate or corrupt your tree's growth, and more. You'll have to grow and prune your tree around difficult circumstances. The game does a great job at throwing all sorts of interesting challenges your way, keeping you on your toes for as to what might come next. There's loads of variety across the several dozen levels here.
Prune goes a long way to avoid any form of frustration. If you fail at a level too many times, it'll offer you the opportunity to skip it. Any solution really has to be triggered once, if the tree falls apart, gets infected by red, or if you trim it and accidentally cut off a large branch that would otherwise fail you, well, you still beat the level. There's no real high score tracking for doing well, but that's not the point of Prune.
Prune is perfectly playable on phones since you can pinch and zoom around the map, but it's a game that I much prefer playing on the iPad...