ReviewsReview: Tools Up! Garden Party

Review: Tools Up! Garden Party

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For a business to be a success, it must roll with the punches and learn to adapt. When opportunities arise that allow them to expand while complementing their existing model, they must grab it with both hands. Tools Up! Garden Party does just that. Your team must; mow, repair, and tidy up to be considered the best workers around.

Developed by The Knights of Unity and published by All in! Games, the season pass and DLC is the first expansion of the well-received Tools Up! base game. A single-player and couch co-op multiplayer title, it’ll challenge you to organise your workload while working diligently as a team.

Tools Up! Garden Party has new mechanics, but the same core concept.

Tools Up! Garden Party was one title I wouldn’t miss. I’m a massive fan of all its contemporaries; Overcooked, Overcooked 2, and Moving Out. I reviewed the Tools Up! base game for another site a year ago, scoring it 8 out of 10. So when I heard about the new content that promised; new levels, additional mechanics, and the same infuriating madness, I couldn’t wait to start.

The game follows a similar pattern to its peers. A map allows you to select from the levels, with a score of 0 to 3 leaves up for grabs. Set objectives must be achieved to score the maximum points in the time that has been bestowed upon you. Once you complete a stage, the next one unlocks and you begin the madness again. The core concept is simple, and this makes the gameplay addictive.

Meet the team.

Three stages to the DLC.

The Knights of Unity have set out their vision in a road map that shows three stages to their new content. The season pass; Tools Up! Garden Party allows you full access as each becomes available. Part 1; Episode 1: The Tree House, Late 2021 sees part 2 released, and early 2022 welcomes part 3. Each comprises; fifteen new levels, extra animals, new characters, additional mechanics and guaranteed arguments.

It goes without saying, but you need the base game to enjoy what I’m reviewing. If you’ve never played Tools Up! you’re in for a treat. When you add in the Garden Party content, it simply sweetens the deal.

What’s Tools Up! Garden Party all about?

Played with up to four players, this couch co-op title guarantees laughter and arguments. The aim of the game is simple; grab the blueprint, work out the jobs that need doing, and set to work. As I’m sure you’ve guessed, it’s not as straightforward as it sounds, and many hurdles are chucked in your path to trip you up.

Racoons are sent to test you by stealing everything in sight, and dogs attempt to help you by digging the ground. Surfaces must be prepped, rubbish removed, and many items have multiple uses. If you then account for; slips, trips and falls, doing work on a garden is a dangerous and tough task. But, you can make it easier, if you work in a large team. This adds a few complications; items are spilt, arguments occur, and toys will be thrown out of the pram. The saying “too many cooks spoil the broth” is sadly, accurate.

Don’t get under each others feet.

Minimal change.

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it, must be The Knights of Unity’s motto. Tools Up! Garden Party stays faithful to its base game, only deviating when necessary. Stars are replaced by leaves, the multistory building site is gone, a sprawling tree grows in its place, and 90% of the work focuses solely on garden maintenance.

I’m not sure if I find the content more logical than the last because I rarely struggled with a level. Not that it’s easy, that wouldn’t be fair or correct. I just found planning my approach less complicated than the multilayered gameplay from Tools Up!

A game to make you smile.

No matter the madness that unfolds before you, the vibrant colours and cartoon style will make you smile. With a variety of level designs, surfaces to walk across, and jobs to complete, it never becomes tiresome. The brilliant plasticine characters waddle around like they’ve not a care in the world. Their animation was smooth, but lethargic. Their costume details and smirking faces added a comical element to the game.

What won’t make you laugh, however, is the restriction on camera movement. Only when you hold the blueprint, can you alter the view. It makes playing slightly cumbersome and tracking down the plans to change the perspective becomes tedious. Other than this minor issue, it plays like a dream. You shouldn’t let this one negative element detract from the rest of the gameplay.

The cheerful atmosphere resumes because of the wholesome and jovial soundtrack that accompanies every level. The lighthearted music is at odds with the chaos that ensues on each job, but I loved its charming approach. The same can be said for the sound effects, they are; a little OTT, humorous, and match the actions perfectly. From the filling of water, throwing of goods, and the cheeky laughter of a racoon, it’ll drive you mad, but you’ll adore every second. There is little to dislike about the audio, and the only thing that’ll stop you from hearing it is the arguments happening in your living room.

Maze-like stages and mess.

Fiddly controls and addictive action.

Having not played this for around six months, I was a little rusty, to say the least. Even with the control layout at hand, I struggled. Patience is a virtue and given a little time you’ll be a handyman of the highest calibre. Once you get your head around it, it’s simple to play, and an absolute joy to lose hours to. As previously mentioned, the only major issue is the lack of free camera movement. This hardly breaks the game and is something you become accustomed to quickly.

With fifteen new levels to play through, additional characters to unlock, and high scores to aim for, there is plenty of replay value. If you purchase the season pass, you’ll have another thirty stages to wade through once they are released. Extra achievements specific to the new mechanics have been incorporated into the list. The tasks aren’t too taxing, but completionists will need to spend time and effort to unlock them all.

Tools Up Garden! Party is a triumph.

It would have taken a lot for me to dislike this add on. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy falling out with their significant other while trying to water a garden together? It’ll make you laugh, it’ll make you cry, and you’ll hate racoons by the time you finish. Simple to play, addictive as the first iteration, and a must-buy for fans of couch co-op games. I recommend it, so buy it here! Can you become a world-class gardener? Probably not, so why not join a team who will show you the way, and help you collect all the leaves?

SUMMARY

Tools Up! Garden Party is a wonderful addition to the base game. The season pass allows up to forty five extra levels, new characters, and exciting mechanics. Grab some friends and become the best gardeners the world has ever seen.

+ Colourful cartoon art style.
+ Jovial and amusing audio.
+ Addictive gameplay.
+ Excellent value for money.
+ New achievements to unlock.
+ Builds on from strong foundations.
+ The controls are easy once you familiarise yourself.
- No free camera movement unless you are holding the blueprint.
- No online play.

(Reviewed on the Xbox Series X. Also available on PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation.)
Daniel Waite
Former editor and reviewer for www.bonusstage.co.uk, I've now found a new home to write my reviews, and get my opinion out to the masses. Still the lead admin for Xboxseriesfans on Facebook and Instagram. I love the gaming world, and writing about it. I can be contacted at [email protected] for gaming reviews.

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