Developer: Dramatic Iceberg
Publisher: Bonus Stage Publishing
Website: Garden In! (dramaticiceberg.it)
Age Rating: N/A
Release Date: 26/01/2023
A code was provided for review purposes
I’d like to say I’m green-fingered with plants in nearly every room and a conservatory full of them. A splash of green brings colour and nature to the home! Unfortunately, though I love plants, this doesn’t guarantee a natural ability in keeping them alive. There have been some casualties over the years, sadly (one or two have been cat related though I might add).
Therefore the concept of Garden In! sounded like an absolute dream; looking after and discovering plants, except in this world, the plants don’t die. Throw in room decorating too, and I was eager to give Garden In! a go. Was this cosy gardening game blooming wonderful, or did it not grow on me? Find out in this Rapid Review.
You start off Garden In! with one room, a studio. The game guides you on how to place a vase, which have three different types; ground, water, and air. You then must place the corresponding soil type (eventually, you unlock four within these types) and plant a seed compatible with this. Luckily, after selecting a vase and wanting to move to the soil or plant tab, it automatically switches to the correct ones for that vase. This speeds things up, but even if you do try and put a seed in the wrong vase, the game doesn’t allow you to.
Beginning with four seeds for each type, these plants are not your average fauna. Names like ‘Mermaid’s Hair’ and ‘Void Berries’ leading to brightly coloured and unusual-looking plants added a touch of fantasy to an otherwise slice-of-life activity. Interestingly too, once planting a seed, it almost grows in real time; it doesn’t just take one minute, but hours.
There’s a lot of time waiting, but during this time, you can decorate, plant more seeds…or simply wait. It’s an idle game in this sense, almost like a toy you can leave running in the background. Garden In! also continues to run when you close it down, so this eliminates waiting for the plants to grow.
Let It Grow
It may seem overwhelming when returning to the game, and coming back to dry and bug-infested plants. Not to fret, these can be easily treated and are part of looking after your plant children! Dry brown plants can be watered with a watering can, a drop symbol above showing when they’re fully hydrated. Bug spray then gets rid of the insects buzzing around your precious plants.
As mentioned, though, no matter how long you leave your plants, they will never die. It takes away the pressure of having to constantly attend to the game or worry about the progress of your hard work being lost. It keeps it cosy and relaxing, the plants only needing your time and love to bloom.
Speaking of love, you can unlock more plants by breeding them in special hybridization vases to create new seeds. However, you have to experiment to see which ones are compatible, as shown by heart symbols when you click on the plants. Otherwise, they won’t make new seeds. You had to wait for the plants, if compatible, to be fully grown to get a new seed, which could be quite frustrating. Since you can get on with other things while Garden In! is running or come back to it later, it’s not that much of an issue. I actually really liked this aspect, either tending to my garden while watching YouTube or writing or opening the game every now and again to check on my plants.
Home Sweet Home
There’s another purpose to growing plants other than simply looking pretty. A trophy in your studio space reveals that there are research achievements to complete, giving you a seed currency. These begin at simply growing plants, then evolve into slightly harder goals such as growing specific plants, watering 100 dry plants, breeding plants, and more. These then unlock decorative furniture, vases, backgrounds, room styles, and entirely new rooms. It was nice to have a purpose to work towards and new items to unlock, creating an incentive to keep playing.
The controls are simple to understand and in the top right corner as a reminder, making decorating easy. You can rotate, zoom and move around the room to see every area of it. Placing or moving an item is then as simple as dragging it while holding left click and using Q and E to rotate the object. Some items can be left-clicked to change their appearance, such as posters would change their designs, or the monitor would change what was on the screen. This was a nice feature to add personalisation to your space.
You couldn’t change the colour of things, instead changing the room style, but it made for very aesthetic-looking environments since everything would be matching or complementing colours. The dynamic backgrounds were peaceful to look at, my favourite being the stars and falling leaves. It almost acted as a desktop screensaver in this way, which my cat Penny loved looking at, too, as she watched the shooting stars! The visuals suited the purpose of the game, being colourful whilst having soft edges and blocky shapes to fit the cosy theme and be more cartoony than realistic. Though, there were some really nice details in the posters in particular. I personally had no performance issues either.
I absolutely loved the seamless instrumental that looped as you played, featuring delicate piano and soft string strums. It almost put me to sleep when playing in the evening as it was so relaxing! I absolutely loved the sound effects of the plants; yes, you heard that right! You could pet the plants that squeaked happily when you did so or when you watered them. It wasn’t something I expected from the game, but it was so cute!
A Gardener’s Dream
My time with Garden In! has been nothing but joyful; it’s perfect for winding down in the evenings, with nothing but cosy vibes as you decorate your aesthetic rooms and tend to weird and wonderful plants. With the plants being unable to die, it was completely stress-free. I loved the satisfaction of discovering two plants were compatible and being able to run the game in the background while I waited for a new seed or for my plants to grow. The research goals then give you something to work towards, as well as the Steam achievements to collect.
It was quite unusual to not have to constantly attend to the game, but it works so well here. Having to wait slows down the pace of the game, which fits it perfectly; there’s no rushing, just plodding along in this easy gardening life. As it’s similar to an idle game, it’s not for you if you’re after something fast-paced. If you love plants and are looking for a worry-free, wholesome experience though, then Garden In! is waiting to plant its roots in your heart.
Rapid Reviews Rating
4 out of 5
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