Garden Story Review (Switch)
It is undeniable that there are certain games, both in the indie and “AAA” space, which, by comparison on their own, elicit a buy, be it cynical or not. If a new game comes out that looks or is described as “like Dark souls, “or” like Stardew Valley ”, so most players won’t hesitate to try it.
It was my first impression when I laid eyes on Garden story, having missed the August Indie Direct in which it was featured, having only taken a few screenshots before playing it for the purposes of this review. At first glance I thought, “Okay, there is Star dew vibe, this will probably be a cute little farming simulation. However, let this be a lesson in “never judge a book by its cover—Garden story exceeds all expectations and forges an identity of its own; one of an incredibly high quality.
Garden story takes place on a small island known simply as Grove – a giant tree filled overflowing and surrounded by nourishing water known as Mana – which has brought the characters in the game to life. However, over time, the The tree’s power waned, and a malevolent force known as Rot infiltrated in an attempt to destroy it. Fortunately, many brave locals – plant-like people known as Seedlings and Frogs – stepped forward to deal with the Rot, being nicknamed “Guardians.”
In the days of the Guardians, the Grove flourished as the community gathered, but many Guardians were defeated, and the island weakened and the four communities broke up and stopped cooperating. Players take on the role of Concord, a small grain of a few words, who is chosen to be the next Guardian by his mentor and friend, Plum. It’s up to Concord to reunite the Grove and defeat the Rot once and for all! It’s an endearing story that really makes you feel like you’re part of something bigger, but its laid back pace and mellow atmosphere doesn’t force you to progress. Rather, this feeling comes from a sincere desire to see the story move forward.
While you can certainly take inspiration from games like Valley of stars; Garden story looks a lot more like a simulator THE Legend of Zelda. You don’t really take care of your own garden, watching it grow as the days go by; instead, you will receive three requests each day: combat, maintenance, and foraging. There is no real penalty for not completing a task, but it will increase the corresponding level of the city, giving you access to better tools and upgrades.
Tools and weapons are one and the same in Garden story, and each has unique combat and non-combat capabilities. The Pick is a fairly versatile sword, Hammer has an AOE charge and can be used to smash loose fence posts; while the dowsing wand (which is actually a fishing rod) can pull objects out of the water and also remove armor from stubborn enemies. However, one of the more bizarre choices for combat is the inclusion of a Dark souls-Esk endurance system.
Each hit from your weapon or dodge requires an endurance tick, so players really need to be careful during combat, especially early in the game where your base stats are quite low, unless they want to be wiped out by rot and waste the day. It’s a weird choice that doesn’t quite fit with this kind of top-down adventure game; given the simplicity of combat, this type of endurance system makes things more tedious rather than adding layers of complexity. Granted, there are ways to increase your stamina, whether that’s through special upgrade gems or unique “souvenirs” that you can earn by performing certain actions or visiting the monuments of ancient guardians who act as advantages.
“Garden story has a lovely pixel-art aesthetic, with every square on the map absolutely PACKAGED in detail, all complemented by a gorgeous pastel color palette that really matches the relaxed playstyle and adorable setting of the game. “
Or Garden story really stands out in its visuals. Garden story has a lovely pixel-art aesthetic, with every square on the map absolutely PACKED of detail, all complemented by a gorgeous pastel color palette that really matches the relaxed playstyle and adorable setting of the game. Even as the day progresses towards at night, the soft reds of the afternoon and the blues of the night always keep the Grove soft and peaceful. Plus, there’s incredible attention to detail that gives the entire game a greater polish shine. Little things like the way raindrops ripple in the water, but splash the ground; or how Concord walks up and down the stairs, landing with an adorable expression, shows just how much love and care has been brought to this game.
The visuals are supported by an excellent soundtrack which adapts perfectly to each location; sweet but whimsical scores from Spring Garden backed by piano, flute and accordion to the fun, upbeat and carefree sounds of steel drums and maracas in the Summer Bar, but still sound like they belong to a Super Nintendo cartridge .
If I have a minor complaint with Garden story, it’s on the technical side. There’s quite a bit of frame rate jitter – at least in the Switch version – in some of the more densely populated areas, and for a game like this, you really don’t expect to see such visual noise. . It’s not really a compromise, but it was quite overwhelming to see.
However, Garden story is an absolute delight, and one of the few games I’ve played recently where I really wanted to continue playing outside of the critics’ purposes. It’s heartwarming, easy to get to, and even easier to get lost in it for hours.