God Damn the Garden
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Genre(s): Action, Adventure
Platform: Nintendo Switch (also available on PlayStation and Xbox)
Age Rating: PEGI 16
Release Date: 14/10/2022
A code was provided for review purposes
Welcome to the Garden
God Damn the Garden is a first-person shooter with a lot of bullet hell influences. When we got the code for this game, I was incredibly excited to try it out. I like first-person shooters and thought the game looked good when I looked at the trailer. Did the game live up to my expectations? Find out in this Rapid Review.
The first thing I recognized about this game is that it features an interesting philosophy behind story content. There is some simple lore and explanation behind my actions, but the story is not gripping. In fact, I could bypass the dialogue by murdering or neglecting to talk with any of the non-playable characters. This is an interesting premise. Avoiding confrontation altogether is the quickest way to get through the game, but it is not always possible to avoid every character. Sometimes, it might be easier to murder them. I never really found myself wanting to kill these characters, as they discuss interesting lore and murdering them brings bad karma upon the main character. However, some murders bring explicit benefits, which forced me to consider my actions. These decisions made the story elements interesting. Still, I did not think the story is a major draw.
Charting my Course
As I began my adventure gameplay-wise however, the game was not as easily laid out. I did not really receive any real direction. This left me quite confused and frustrated when I began playing the game. This was primarily because there was no map. I found myself walking in circles and traversing the same areas repeatedly trying to find a way out. The rooms were distinct, and I hardly had a difficult time recognizing whether I had explored a room or not, but the world itself was intricate and non-linear. I found myself feeling helpless without a map.
However, once I eventually did find my way, I felt much better about my adventure. Moving my main character was fun, and God Damn the Garden features options to adjust the aiming controls to my taste. Even traversal was interesting, as there were often traps on the ground to avoid and I had a small dash to use while navigating. The movement was one of the better parts of this game.
Fighting to be the Best
The shooting was similar. I always felt in control of my weapon and the attacks went exactly where I wanted them to go, with no bullet drop-off. It was a simple mechanic, but I thought it worked well. There were limited resources in a sense because the weapons required ammunition. However, I never ran out or even came close. I completed the game with more than one thousand five hundred extra bullets in the chamber, a number I did not even think was possible when I booted up the game for the first time. The scarcity never impacted the way I played. Another cool aspect of the weapon was that I could choose to charge my weapon to transform it into a burst rifle instead of a single-shot one. This made fights a lot easier, as careful planning made my character deadly. The weaponry was strong and rewarding.
The enemies also counteracted some of the strengths of the weapon. Many of the enemies came towards me quickly or shot barrages of bullets at my character. This meant that despite my powerful weapon, the enemies stood a chance. Moreover, their hits often had a huge impact. I only could sustain a couple of blows before I died, so I needed to plan my moves carefully. Some enemies would even kill me instantly. Sometimes, it felt unfair to be entirely honest, and I found myself questioning whether I was enjoying the game at all, especially in the beginning. However, once I got the hang of how to play the game, which heavily differed from my expectations, I began to like it a bit more. Plus, there were plenty of unique enemy types that interacted with me and impacted my playstyle in unique ways.
Finding my Rhythm
God Damn the Garden ended up being a lot more like a rage game than I initially thought. The enemies easily could overpower me if I was not playing cautiously. Thus, I began playing cautiously. I found myself learning the area layouts and taking out enemies one at a time, even when there were a lot in a room. Moreover, during boss fights, I largely found myself hiding under cover until I had a moment to strike. This made the pacing quite slow, but the actions I was taking felt skilful, even if the enemies had little chance of impacting me while I was doing it. Again, this game initially frustrated me a lot because I was constantly dying and confused about what enemies did. Though I did not like the game initially, once I learned how to play the game safely and effectively, it ended up being fun.
In addition to the standard gameplay, I enjoyed finding some skulls around the world. These were by no means hidden but often required some thought or practice to collect. I thought it was a fun way to increase my interest in the mechanics and entice me to perform well.
Further, I thought the music was good. I enjoyed experiencing the different soundtracks that came up in the different environments and enjoyed seeing how the sound effects were helpful with some enemies. However, some of the sound effects are so paramount that the game would feel difficult to complete muted or when played on a low volume. While this was not an issue for me, I thought it was important enough to note.
Looks can be Deceiving
On the other hand, I did not like the visual design much. There are plenty of interesting and cool aspects of the world design, but the overall theme was muddy. Figures are dark and sometimes indistinguishable from dark environments. Others stand out but do not blend with some of the other characters. While by no means did the visual style impede my enjoyment of the other aspects of the game, I do not think it is a selling point.
Overall, God Damn the Garden is an interesting game. I found myself enjoying it towards the end, but most of the time I spent with it I was frustrated by the lack of direction I felt. The combat is fine and the different combat style from any of the other titles I had played before was novel and unique but the lack of clarity makes it a less intriguing offer. At the price point, it is not a bad pickup, but I am not rushing to recommend it.
Rapid Reviews Rating
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase God Damn the Garden on the Nintendo eShop here
You can find and read our reviews on OpenCritic.