Ah, hello again. I was expecting you. Welcome back to the Stadia Life Christmas Cabin, also known as my prison until December 25th.
Today is day 9 of 12 Days of Pros-mas, and also officially the start of Christmas week! It seems like every day Christmas gets one day closer. There are still more pro games to get through first though, and I’ve been told if I don’t complete this article series Christmas will be cancelled so I’d better get on with it!
The Gardens Between
The Gardens Between is a puzzle game developed and published by The Voxel Agents, which went onto pro in November of this year. The game runs at 4k 60fps and has quite an appealing art style.
As I started the game I was introduced to the two main characters who are friends sitting in a treehouse on a rainy day. As a British person, I already sympathised with their rain issue.
However, I couldn’t sympathise with their issue a moment later, when time stopped then reversed and they were sucked into another dimension and wake up on the beach of a mysterious island. This is when I was introduced to the mechanics of the game, which was rather unique. Rather than controlling the characters as I expected, I controlled time and the characters would move with time. This ability allowed me to go forward and backward in time to solve puzzles. However, I could get the characters to interact with certain objects.
To complete each island I had to take a glowing ball to a structure at the top of the island. When I did this, I was shown a random object, in this case some boxes, before then being quickly moved on to the next island. In this game, the treehouse from the beginning of the game is used as a boat, which indicates excellent craftsmanship from the person who made the treehouse. This next island had a new mechanic which was these little black holes that would suck in the glowing balls I was carrying.
When I completed this island I was treated to seeing a memory between these two characters from when one of them first moved in.
Now I understood the goal of this game, recreating memories, I continued. I was introduced to a new mechanic at the same time, boxes that would jump around and could fetch and move the glowing balls. It was also at this time that I started paying attention to how the characters interacted with the world as I moved time forward, and there was a lot of fun situations that showed the differences in personality between the characters, for example, one of them often lags behind because they’re looking at different objects on the island or even messing with them, which is sometimes used for the puzzles.
As I completed this level I was shown the next memory, the two characters with a paddling pool.
With the next island, I was shown another mechanic: an item I could interact with that allowed me to manipulate time with one specific part of the island, for example the first of these items was this Jenga tower that I had to reassemble as the blocks were blocking (see what I did there?) the path.
The items on this table were part of the next memory, where the friends were shown playing video games together.
These levels also started requiring more interactions with the environment itself. At first,\ it started off simple, like making one of the characters jump on and off a saw repeatedly so it would cut some would, but it started becoming more complex like getting me to enter a password by stepping on and off in a particular pattern. Some of these puzzles took some figuring out and made me feel quite good when it all came together.
Overall, I am rather pleased with The Gardens Between from what I played. The game is quite relaxing but still has some fun puzzles to do which can sometimes challenge you. The visuals are pretty and the interactions of the characters are just very human and charming. So, for those reasons, this game is going on the nice list.
-Monster Jam Steel Titans
-Jotun: Valhalla Edition
-Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris
-Sundered: Eldritch Edition
-Submerged: Hidden Depths
-Into The Breach
-The Gardens Between
And that’s the end of day 9! That means we are three-quarters of the way through this series, and 4 sleeps away from Christmas. Hope you’ve been enjoying this series so far, and I’ll see you tomorrow for the next one!
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