Publisher: Rose City Games
Concord is a young grape who lives in The Grove, a little land filled with personified fruits and vegetables. Concord isn’t one to meddle with anything outside of his little hut, so he chooses to stay put and ignore The Rot that is threatening to destroy his home. It doesn’t take long before he realizes that he has been chosen as The Guardian of The Grove. Through some adventuring, renovations, and budding friendships, players will help Concord restore The Grove and save the day.
Fans of games like Stardew Valley and Rune Factory will feel right at home with Garden Story. Players can enjoy the beautiful world of The Grove. There are four regions for players to check out, and each one has its own unique identity. Players can also build relationships with the fruits and vegetables that inhabit these regions. Players can do favors for their neighbors to grow closer and use their relationships to restore The Grove.
Like similar games, contributing to the land and community that lives there is a key part of the experience too. Gardening, foraging, and construction are all wonderfully relaxing features in Garden Story. The farming isn’t as deep as games like Stardew Valley, but its still enjoyable and an important part of the game’s progression. Filling requests and doing quests is a bigger part of Garden Story, making this a much more story driven game than its peers.
Players can gather materials to use for both helping the community and also build their own tools and weapons. Crafting potions is also something that players will be doing throughout Garden Story. Potions can be crafted with all sorts of buffs depending on what is put into them, making the system deeper than one would expect. This is great, because there is a lot more to Garden Story‘s combat than one would expect. It is difficult, but there are a lot of ways to approach every quest, making the combat rewarding.
Garden Story is an entertaining experience throughout, but it does lose momentum during the second half. Recycled enemies, a few unfair mechanics, and rough controls plague the combat portions. The momentum in the second half is also lost a bit due to a lack of variety in quests and favors.
The monotony really starts to show after awhile, and the lack variety chips away at Garden Story‘s charm. The end result is a captivating experience in the beginning that just doesn’t last as long as some of its peers. Still, despite the monotony, I found myself constantly playing and grinning throughout Garden Story.
A big part of this game’s charm is fueled by the visuals and excellent music. Everything is bright and colorful, making The Grove come to life. The characters obviously have simple visual designs, but they are written with tons of personality. The writing is just as excellent as the visuals are, with funny and endearing dialogue filling the game’s script.
Garden Story is a wonderful experience that suffers from a few setbacks that hurt the game’s pacing. Regardless, its a remarkably cozy game that almost anyone can enjoy. It’s not perfect, but it feels like home.
Garden Story is a wholesome little game with plenty to do and a delicious soundtrack.