GamingReview: Garden Story

Review: Garden Story

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You heard it from the grapevine folks; Garden Story is the sweetest, most wholesome ARPG of 2021. All bad fruit puns aside, Garden Story is a cozy adventure that’ll leave you feeling good to the core.

Gameplay:

Garden Story stars a young grape named Concord who is appointed as the new Guardian destined to save his home, The Grove, from the destruction of the Rot. Freshly off the vine, Concord comes across a few rough patches as he must navigate to earn the trust of the leafy inhabitants while trying to rebuild their deteriorating community.

Combat in this game is pretty simple. The action button slashes your sword-like pick to obliterate your foes, but you can’t just mash the A button all willy-nilly. Specifically, there’s a stamina bar that limits how much Concord can slash their weapon. I realized that the stamina bar felt limiting at first after the first boss made a fresh jar of jam out of poor little Concord.

Thankfully, Concord eventually upgrades to other gardening tools they use for combat and can upgrade their stats as they experience memories of the past. The number of upgrades and status buffs in this simple game was really refreshing, and I eventually didn’t feel as defenseless as I did at the beginning of the game.

But Concord isn’t just a hero; they have a day job too! As a Guardian, they are tasked with various errands in each town, leading to several upgrades and cold cash! This money can later be used for gardening or sprucing up Concord’s wardrobe.

Despite having several features I enjoyed, I didn’t care for the plot. While the story was a nice take on the apocalyptic theme, I think it could have been executed better. But considering the genre, I don’t think it negatively impacted too much how I felt about the game overall.

With this in mind, one of my major complaints about Garden Story is the lack of characterization. Particularly, with these kinds of wholesome games, you tend to want to connect more with the characters and their world, so having NPCs saying the same one-liner throughout the whole game was a big disappointment. In fact, the side characters could have should have been developed throughout the game just as much as the main characters.

Pros:

  • A nice wholesome cozy game with a good amount of action
  • Features many quests, upgrades, & collectibles
  • Nice good-feeling soundtrack & adorable art

Cons:

  • Wanted more characterization & side stories
  • Can feel a bit repetitive


Conclusion:

At times, Garden Story feels a little bit rough around the edges, but they dealt with many issues in a nice clean update. In fact, the amount of care put in this game really shows. In the end, I was highly satisfied with the finished product.

Honestly, I haven’t played a game in a while that had me grinning from start to finish. I felt like I went in a time machine and was a kid again enjoying my favorite Zelda or Hamtaro game – surprisingly, it really felt nice to feel that magic again. On the whole, if you like laidback or wholesome games, I highly recommend you buy this “berry” sweet gem!

Entertainment: 9/10

Replay value: 6/10

Graphics: 9/10

Sound: 9/10

Kid Friendly: Yes

Platform:Nintendo Switch
Developer:Picogram
Publisher:Rose City Games
Released:August 11, 2021
MSRP:$19.99
ESRB:Everyone 10+

SUMMARY

+ Wholesome, adorable, & cozy game
+ Features quests & many upgrades
+ Nice soundtrack & art
- Can feel repetitive
- Wanted more characterization

(Reviewed on Nintendo Switch, also available on Steam)
Krissy
Hi, I’m Krissy! I’m just your average nerd living & gaining XP in Tokyo, Japan. Former QA and game production intern at Cartoon Network. When I’m not trying to save the world, you can find me whipping up some cute illustrations on my tablet!

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