After my Donut Country experience of enjoying a game after being initially unconvinced, I decided to give a second visit to The Gardens Between. Like Donut County I was a bit bemused on first playing by what was happening and it seeming very simple. On second attempt I started to see the beauty of the levels and it definitely becomes more challenging as it progresses, although never that difficult.
The start of The Gardens Between is a little strange. There are two people in a treehouse during a storm and then suddenly they are lying on a beach on an island. Larger than life everyday objects make up part of the scenery. It all seems a little odd, but beautiful.
The controls are very basic, you can move time forward or backwards. You can also interact with certain objects by pressing A when they glow – each character has different objects they can interact with. Some objects apparently exist outside time, so if you interact with them and change them in someway they keep their new characteristics as you move time. The aim of each level is to light the beacon at the top of the hill on each island.
As you progress through the game the puzzles get gradually more difficult, due to extra interactive objects being added. There are solid objects that look like clouds, they disappear when light touches them – sometimes you need then to be solid to make a bridge and sometimes you need them to disappear so you can access the previously blocked path. At other points there are ways of moving certain objects forward and backwards independently of the characters. Each new mechanism is a welcome addition that gradually builds on what you can do.
A couple of times I restarted a level as I thought I’d made a mistake that made the level impossible. However each time I discovered that I ended up back in the same position. It seems like the levels have been cleverly designed so that you can’t trap yourself. I appreciated this, as it meant I didn’t have to consider if I’d gone irrecoverably wrong. This meant I could concentrate on what I’d missed that I needed to solve the puzzle.
There are no words to the story. Each set of two or three levels is accompanied by a short animation that links to the objects in a level. These are a series of memories that are clearly important to the two people involved, even if the events seem insignificant to those outside the friendship. The reason for these reminisces becomes clear when you complete the game and gives a nice sense of closure.
If you like puzzles and want a short game that isn’t too difficult to, give it a try and let me know what you thought.