The Gardens Between
An adventure puzzle game tells a story of two friends and their memories together.
-Simple smart puzzle mechanic throughout gameplay
-Sweet story and great encouragement of how important friendship is for each of us
2-4 hours depending how fast you solve all the puzzles.
September, 20, 2018
PC (reviewed), PS4, XBox One, Nintendo Switch
As a puzzle game veteran, I have played many puzzles throughout my gaming years. The Gardens Between is something special and it pleasantly surprised me after I picked it up. I hope more people can come to experience and appreciate this piece of artwork.
The Gardens Between is about friendship, a thing of which everyone needs and desires for on this earth. Through unlocking little memories, players can get a taste of how their friendship is like in real life. It is heartwarming and encouraging in this imaginative world.
Honestly, I did not have much of a high expectation when I first picked up the game, but I found myself pleasantly surprised by its simple mechanics 10 to 15 minutes in. After finishing the game, I would say that I recommend The Gardens Between to any fans of puzzle games.
When you think of puzzle games, you may think of Professor Layton, or The Witness, but you won’t find anything like that in The Gardens Between. The game starts off with a garden between two houses, and it is your job to unlock various pieces of memories from the stories of the two neighbors who live in these houses.
You can control both the boy and the girl, and they both have unique functions in the game. The girl holds a lamp without light and the boy traverses empty-handed. The boy can activate lanterns and panels while the girl can place the lamp on objects and collect light.
The basic gameplay includes moving forward, pausing, moving backward, and repeating these motions. Does it sound boring? The game will prove you wrong. After the first introduction piece of memory, you will soon find out that this “forward, pause, backward” mechanic is much deeper than expected.
Throughout the game, you will encounter different objects in the environment, which will become necessary parts of solving each puzzle. For example, as shown above, lanterns allow the blooming light flower or the black-hole flower to be turned on or turned off, which will greatly impact whether you can receive or carry light along or not.
Let’s talk about the light, since it is the key to solving all the puzzles in The Gardens Between. Each puzzle has a light alter, and your job is to collect light and drop the light onto the alter. It sounds very simple, doesn’t it? Along the way, you must follow a designated path to move forward, but you can pause or go backward anytime.
There are light blooming flowers in various positions to allow you to collect light. There are also black-hole flowers that take away your light when you pass through them. Jumping robots can be used for transporting your lamp or light to reach any places that you can’t otherwise reach.
The most interesting thing in the game is that an object’s positioning can be controlled by activating a panel which will then move these object forward or backward. When you get deeper into the game, you will find it more brain-twisting and challenging as it mixes all the mechanics together including lanterns, robots, flowers, random objects, and activation panels.
You may encounter having to perform trial and error to solve harder puzzles later on in the game. A sense of accomplishment and satisfaction will come when you successfully solve a puzzle due to the difficulty levels. You will also unlock a precious piece of memory about their friendship. How nice! It keeps you wondering what will happen next.
The journey through this puzzle game usually lasts between 2 to 4 hours, depending on how fast you solve them all. But if you want to unlock all the achievements, you may need to look up solutions online, for they are not always obvious enough to solve quickly. Overall, it is short, but sweet, and I am happy to find this hidden gem among an ocean of games. If you decide to give it a try, relax and enjoy!
+ Simple puzzle mechanic
+ Smart puzzle design
+ Sweet storytelling
- Short game in general