Publisher: Rose City Games
Platforms: Switch, PC
Reviewed On: Switch
Release Date: 11/08/2021
Reviewed By: Keith Lavelle
Review Rush was kindly supplied with a review code.
Could there really be a good game based around a bunch of fruit that we are not slicing in half with our finger? Well, Garden Story is going to try this light ARPG where you play as a wee Grape. Let’s see if it’s any good.
You take the role of Concord, the gardener, whose soul job is to tend to Kindergarden. And hoping that the flowers will bloom there, he is almost always alone and does not interact with the other inhabitance of The Grove. Little does Concord know his life is about to change drastically.
One day Plum, the current Guardian of The Hamlet, visits Concord with a request. Plum is to leave and help other villages, and he wants Concord to be the next Guardian in his place. Reluctantly he agrees to leave the Kindergarden and become the Guardian of the village.
His new role will see Concord, helping the locals with tasks, uniting wayward villages as one, all the while finding out who he is and where he belongs in this world. Concords biggest job is to stop the Rot that has taken hold of The Grove at by and protect the inhabitants.
As you progress the story, you will watch how Concord grows in to his new role and how others view him. And it has a big focus on community and supporting each other.
For the gameplay Garden Story’s a relaxing experience that grows on you the more effort you put in. There are few activities to focus on when not progressing the main story. All the while improving Concord for the trails to come.
The first is the daily tasks these are split into three categories;
Conflict – Destroying specific Rot in an area
Maintenance – These are fixing broken things by hitting them
Foraging – Collecting a resource and depositing them
On any given day, you will have two or three of these tasks to complete. They are all simple and mainly completed while wandering around or doing something else. As you complete these tasks toy will eventually level the three stats up (each town has own stats), doing so will unlock more items to buy. Along progressing the main missions. As you do these tasks for a few days, you notice they repeat a lot. This leads to these imperative tasks getting monotonous, and wondering how bad the fruit builders are after fixing the fences 10 times.
There are also the shops that will sell upgrades for Concord, these are recommended. As Concord is very squishy, like a rotting grape at the start. The shops sell HP increases, weapon damage increases and jar upgrades. In order to buy upgrades, he will need the money and the items needed, the price and rarity of the item increase per level.
When you are not fixing poorly built fixtures or collecting items, Garden Story turns in to an action RPG. This will see Concord battling the Rot to keep The Grove safe. Just like in any garden, if rot infests it, then it will kill everything unless stopped. Concord will have several weapons at his disposable from a pick that he uses as a sword to a fishing rod that can remove shells off some rot. And he also gets a handy-dandy shield that stops incoming attacks. Be weary, however, using weapons, dodging, running and deflecting blows will use up stamina.
After completing a few main quests, Concord will need to venture in to a dungeon, and progress to the end and kill the boss. While in the dungeon, there are is a light puzzle element. These puzzles are simple like kill everything in the room or catch levers and pull them. I know it is a relaxing RPG, but make the dungeons more fun. The bosses are interesting, and different, making you think on your feet for a few seconds until you figure out the weakness. (On a side note, I ended up in the second dungeon way before I was meant to go in the story oops)
Concord has a simple level upgrade system, as memories. While you progress, you will unlock memories that can be set when resting. We made these memories at a specific event in Garden Story. They will improve Concord in a couple of ways, but there is a downgrade with each memory. I only found a few of these memories to be worth equipping the whole way through my adventure.
On paper, Garden Story is a simple game to get to grips with, while in practice the controls make a relaxing adventure a gardener’s worse nightmare. Concord’s mobility feels like he is walking through a paddy field. It seems stunted and slow. At times, I also felt as if button inputs were not registered more when done too quickly. For instance, turning direction then attacking would cause just an attack. It was a real pain in the roots.
Overall Garden Stroy has a lot to like and the development team has worked hard to make a game they love. It is just a shame it is let down by a few problems. Hopefully, in future patches they can improve the controls and so on.
Even if there are problems, I would still recommend getting Garden Story it is a good little game, with good soil to grow from.