- System: PS4, PC, Nintendo Switch
- Publisher: The Voxel Agents
- Developer: The Voxel Agents
- Release Date: Sept 20, 2018
- Rating: E for Everyone
- Genre: Puzzle, Adventure
- Players: 1
- Official Website: http://thegardensbetween.com/
Who it Caters to
What to Expect
The Gardens Between has players control Arina and Frendt, our two main children protagonists. For reasons unknown, they have been sent into a strange realm built upon their memories long forgotten and they must traverse this dream-like world to escape and find a means back home. However, that isn’t to say The Gardens Between feels like a race to return from whence these kids came from, but instead, it’s meant to show the players memories of two best friends and the life they’ve lived, good and bad. Yet, to navigate this strange place, time is essential in the sense that movement and puzzle solving requires a great finesse of time manipulation.
Within The Gardens Between, players move the duo forward and backwards using the left analog stick and that in turn moves time forward and backwards depending on your input. Developer The Voxel Agents created an interesting mechanic that makes players move time ahead and back to solve puzzles along the way. For example, the main item you’ll always need to complete each level is a white lantern that must be lit by a strange orb-like light. Along the way though lies grey mists and odd orb stealing voids that will hinder your progress. The player will need to occasionally manipulate movement alongside artifacts that affect the dream-like environment to create perfect opportunities to progress forward without being stopped. It might sound a bit strange but after the very first area you explore, The Gardens Between becomes something you master almost immediately thanks to simple controls that almost anyone could pick up and play.
Now that being said, The Gardens Between uses time manipulation very well, but equally, might not appeal to all hard-core puzzle elitists because of how simple this game ultimately is. While puzzles occasionally might require a bit of mental fortitude—especially as you near the finale after a three-four-hour run—there never is a sense of frustration while playing The Gardens Between. The main focus in The Gardens Between is silent narration that makes the player see Arina and Frendt’s story first and foremost. All the levels in The Gardens Between are made from their childhood memories meaning you’ll have areas filled with cardboard boxes with doodles on them to seesaws and walls with images drawn on them. Though due to the movement theme, the removal of death and or having to restart an area because you made a mistake, The Gardens Between is just relaxing and often quite easy.
Ultimately though, even with The Gardens Between being so easy and simple, it actually works due to the way puzzles are laid out and the setting in which they lie in. The Gardens Between is vibrant and whimsical which makes solving puzzles equally feel the same. Every area, every map and every situation feels different due to the memories represented in a particular place and it makes for a truly fun and enjoyable experience. The music also helps immensely with a strong soundtrack that keeps the story constantly moving and keeps you immersed while it treks onwards. Despite there not being a single vocal moment of dialogue or even any text narration, with the imagery and music working in conjunction together, The Gardens Between keeps your eyes locked on the screen and your controller gripped tightly as you begin to piece together the story being presented.
Honey's Gameplay Consensus:
- Enjoyable gameplay using a simple but intuitive theme of rewinding/fast forwarding time
- Cute story with a nice friendship theme
- Vibrant colors and visuals
- Puzzles won’t cause you to get overly annoyed or frustrated
- Relaxing but powerful OST
- Might be a bit too easy for hard core puzzle gamers
- A little on the short side