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Garden Story Review

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Fast Facts

Garden Story

Developer: Picogram
Publisher: Rose City Games
Genre(s): Indie, Action, Adventure, Role-Playing, Simulation
Platform: Nintendo Switch (Also available on Steam)
Age Rating: PEGI 7
Release Date: 11/08/2021
Price: £17.99

A code was provided for review purposes

Cute and Cosy

When I imagine my ideal cosy scenario, I picture being under fluffy blankets and playing the latest indie game with a nice cup of tea. The game of choice always has to match the environment. I can hardly be cosy if I’m hunting down the latest cults in Far Cry. One rainy day and a blanket fort like no other, I decided to give Garden Story a go. Instantly drawn in by the adorable graphics and soft-hued colour palette, I knew this light-hearted game would fulfil my recreational needs.

Concord whacks a Rot with his sword in a forest area.
A day of fishing in the tranquil Grove.

All the Pastels

First and foremost, I want to talk about the graphics of the game because I believe it is a standout characteristic. Garden Story’s overall look is adorable. It features a 2D story with pixel graphics similar to that of Stardew Valley and Final Fantasy but adapted to its own unique look with a soft touch. Pixel or 2D games are popular amongst gamers now more than ever, due to how they have grown over the years. Previously, games such as this were limited as to what you could do with your character but this has now changed to include how your character interacts with the environment, cut scenes, and elements of dialogue. Garden Story brings all of this in and more which we will get into further down the review.

Concord defends himself in a beach side town with a tentacled squid arm coming out of the water
Not this time Mr Squid!

Along with the softer pixel graphics, the colour palette used throughout this game, despite being warmer compared to most games, still manages to be very eye-catching. The use of mainly pastel colours, allows this game to ooze its light-hearted ways, and adds to characters’ likeability as they look cuter. By removing the use of dark, bold colours, it highlights what this game is all about, and that is to have fun and enjoy your life as a Guardian of the Grove.

The resource menu in Garden Story, highlighting a glass shard.
Collecting resources for townsfolk

Being Guardian of the Grove

Speaking of being the Guardian of the Grove, maybe I should explain what this game is all about. Starting life as a little grape called Concord, you awaken on The Grove with the biggest job of them all! To restore The Grove back to its original beauty, removing the rot which is destroying the town. The rot can be seen throughout and damage fencing and bridges, but can also attack you. It is your duty as Guardian, to remove the rot gradually, in response to noticeboard requests. Other requests including completing rebuilds of what has been damaged, collecting goods and providing resources.

By completing requests received from the town folk, this helps you to increase XP, and level up in order to gain improved weapons, tools and how much of the map you can explore. As you make your way through the story and life as Concord, you meet a variety of fascinating people who help you to complete missions. My favourite friend being Lychee, who is the keeper of a very autumnal village within the town, and who also has his very own special missions to complete.

Lychee greets you with 'Sawp! You're new here, aren't you?' in an autumnal village.
The first day of meeting my new bestie.

As the story of the game progresses, you are given the responsibility to help restore certain areas. With every new area to restore there is a boss. But don’t let quaint little Garden Story fool you, these big bosses are a tough one, and take some trials. I quite liked the fact that this calming gaming, had a bit of challenge through its boss missions. Throughout my playthrough, there was not one time it got dark and dingy, and even with the boss missions, the game still met its cute persona that I had come to love over the course of time.

The Octopihi boss in a dark basement
Too cute to kill.

Making Friends

Throughout my experience of defending The Grove, I met many different characters, including Elderberry, Rana the frog (a particular favourite) and Plum. All of which became a great help within the game. As you make your way through the story, discovering and unlocking new parts of the map, you meet new characters who you come to love and want to protect. Garden Story‘s undeniable cuteness encourages you to do your very best for these wonderful personas, making their life feel back on track. Supported with polite dialogue, you feel a certain kindness towards each individual to do your very best.

Even through completing the noticeboard requests, it was never a case of just leaving one out, because the reward for completing each one, and the wholesome atmosphere it brings with a finished task is what motivates you to keep going and do your best for the town. One particular element of this game that I appreciated, is that over the course of the story, you unlock memories about each character and their past. When used correctly, these can provide you with additional luck, strength or other traits when required.

Concord talks to Rose in a snow-covered village, who says 'Guardian Concord! So glad you came by. Listen, I've got a special issue for a special Guardian like you.'
A winter in The Grove.

My Final Thoughts on Garden Story

When I first discovered Garden Story, I was instantly drawn in by the cute graphics, and wholesome story that came with it. So with expectations at an all-time high, I didn’t expect to get blown away. I think it goes without saying, this is one of the happiest, charming games I have played in a very long time and exceeded my already high thoughts. The interaction between villagers is overwhelmingly adorable, and the overall aim of the game to restore a little town back to life, kept me drawn in. I can easily say, this game is unique, and every person who plays it will have their own unique adventure. I will happily play this game again and again, not just to complete missions but to continue interactions with my new virtual town pals.

Don’t play Garden Story, live as part of Garden Story.

Rapid Reviews Rating

gold score

You can purchase Garden Story on Nintendo Switch here!

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