A game centred around fruit and veg doesn’t really sound that entertaining, does it? What if I said they were sentient fruits with adorable faces and tiny arms and legs? Yeah, I’ve never felt so attached to fruits and vegetables. This is what Garden Story has done to me.
In Garden Story, you take the role of a cute, perfectly round purple grape known as ‘Concord’. Concord is the newly-appointed Guardian of the Grove, the almighty grape, and they’re on a mission to make the island the best it can be: rebuilding homes, inspiring inhabitants, and removing the dreaded rot from the Grove.
Garden Story is a mixture of genres. Adventure, RPG, simulation, action; you will certainly see similarities between this and other popular games such as Stardew Valley and the Zelda series, from which it clearly takes inspiration. But, it’s worth noting that Garden Story is very much its own game with its own take on some fantastic features, which can easily be missed if you aren’t paying attention…
Perhaps the biggest part of Garden Story is its combat. You will spend a lot of your time encountering enemies and bosses along your journey across the Grove and this is where the ‘RPG’ part of the game really comes into play. Collecting and upgrading weapons and boosting your stats via ‘memories’ are what you will be dealing with, and these are features that I was glad to see. The combat itself is fairly simple, since it’s mostly just bashing the A button until the bad thing is dead. However, there is a slight twist here because you do have a stamina bar, which can become quite annoying. It pretty much only allows three hits, after that it will need to recharge, leaving you running away from enemies, dodging their attacks for a short while until it comes back. It just feels a little too inconvenient.
Garden Story’s bosses are usually placed at the end of a dungeon you’re having to explore first and the bosses themselves provide a decent challenge, without being too overbearing. Enemy attacks are simple to anticipate which really does just allow you to enjoy the boss battle without getting frustrated.
So, “What’s the deal with the rot?” I hear you say. Well, the rot is an mysterious gooey-like substance that appears to be taking over the island — and it must be stopped. As you progress through the game’s story, you will come to learn more and more about what the rot actually is, why it is here and, most importantly, how to stop it. Concord will need to travel to four different towns to clear the rot from each and every one of them: Spring Hamlet, Summer Bar, Autumn Town and Winter Glade. How wonderful.
In Garden Story, there’s actually a ton of things to be getting on with such as fishing, crafting, building, and even farming. The only thing is, these things are all totally optional, meaning a lot of people won’t really get to experience them in their full form unless they dedicate the time to do so. And these were the things that I found most relaxing because, for the most part, Garden Story is a very chilled game.
Garden Story has a fantastic soundtrack and probably will be in my top ten favourite gaming soundtracks, so that’s a big positive. It’s just so good and suits the colourful, vibrant and hectic art style so well.
There are a lot of friendly faces to meet and greet in Garden Story and they really are likeable characters with big personalities. They’re all fruits and vegetables, of course… apart from the occasional frog. There’s Plum, Elderberry, and Sili, to name a few. All appropriately named, as you can tell. One thing I must mention is that all characters are addressed using the pronouns they/them because fruits have no gender… non-binary fruit!
There are many tasks to complete during your time with Garden Story, in the form of main or side quests and from the request board which is updated daily. It can be a little difficult to know where you’re supposed to go, or what you have to do in order to complete a task, seeing as there are no waypoints; you just have to find things the old fashioned way. It’s not necessarily a problem, it can just be a little frustrating when there is no direction to follow.
Let’s touch on the worst part of the game: the inventory system. You’re limited to only 25 slots, which is not nearly enough for a game where collecting resources is a must, especially when those items don’t stack. Why?! It would have been nice to have been able to upgrade this slightly. It would’ve stopped the annoyance of having to keep going back into town every time your backpack is full.
What is nice, though, is the option to have Concord wear hats. Yes, it’s the simple things that matter. These hats are craftable, and they’re so adorable. Mind you, everything in Garden Story is adorable.
It’s worth noting that Garden Story is a slow burner. It takes a little while to really get to grips (or grapes) with what you’re supposed to be doing but, trust me, once you get into the swing of things you will not be able to put it down. It’s incredibly addictive and you can easily pass many hours without even realising it.
Garden Story £17.99
Garden Story is such a wholesome game and the more time you put into it, the more you will get out. Its adorable cast of characters and varied gameplay makes for a great ‘relaxation’ game, if that’s what you’re looking for.