The Gardens Between is a surreal puzzle adventure title developed and published by The Voxel Agents. The game is now available on Steam and thus, I am lucky enough to lay my hands and eyes on this title, and share my first impressions with you.
The game tells the story of two close friends, Arina and Frendt. These two live next to each other and have a perfect friendship like Stephen King tells in his books. A bond which will last forever. Along our journey, we will help them to overcome various obstacles.
The Gardens Between features little garden islands and each reflects a marvellous art style with a memory which was shared by two best friends. Before anyhting else, I must say that The Gardens Between is a very emotional and impressive game. There are no words or text, yet there is a great story to uncover. You get a sense that after all these emotional memories, there is something painful waiting for you at the end and this is how the game provides you with a smile and a fear for what is to come.
Developers of the game describe The Gardens Between as a “single-player adventure-puzzle game about time, memory and friendship” and I’ve already mentioned about the memory and friendship part. Time is a huge part of the story as it is the main gameplay mechanic of the game. If you’ve played Shadwen before, you already know what I am talking about.
While playing The Gardens Between, you will be able to manipulate time. It is actually more than manipulating, since everything depends on it. When you stop moving, everything will stop moving and when you move, the clock will start ticking again. If you move forward, time will move forward and if you go back, it will go back. This is the key to solve every puzzle and beat the game, if I must say.
Of course, it would be too easy if you can only beat the game or most importantly, enjoy it with only manipulating time. As each garden island is a different memory with a different environmental design, it also provides you with new obstacles and ways to solve the puzzles.
The main object on each island is to light your lantern and carry it to the top while it is still lit. Once you replace it to its place, you can move to next island. But, it is no easy job since there are evil forces who wish to put your light out. I mean, the flower like objects which have a tiny little black hole. They are here to suck your light and it always makes me wonder that why purple always means evil in games. Light is your friend and purple is your enemy.
Along with that, there will be obstacles like purple fogs, rocks which are blocking your way and etc. But, you are not alone and I believe this is the best part of The Gardens Between. As I’ve mentioned before, there are two friends and you will be controlling both. Each character is tasked with a different mission like while Arina always carries the light and puts it where it belongs, Frendt will always be the one who manipulates time. Frendt also manipulates time in a different way by interacting with an object which will let time run forwards or backwards while you are staying put. This is also a crucial step you must take while solving the puzzles.
All this together, provides you with a highly enjoyable gameplay and puzzles which will take your time even if they look easy. At some point, I found myself trying to create a tide, even the answear was in front of my eyes. Manipulating time this much may cause brain malfunction, flashbacks and internal bleeding. With no doubt, The Gardens Between is one of the most preciously well-designed puzzle games I’ve played for a long time. Afterall, it promises so much, not just walking and jumping.
Speaking of walking and jumping, I also need to remind you that you will only use your arrow and space keys to control your characters and interact with the environment. The game is highly easy to play without any effort but this does not mean that it is easy to finish.
Along with that, I do not have the words to describe the environmental design of the game. The way you interract with the objects and shape the gardens are beautifully implemented to the game and the visuals are just gorgeous. With the saddening soundtrack, your experience will turn into a complete satisfaction.
Overall, I can say that I enjoyed every bits and pieces of The Gardens Between and I admired every garden of it. My only regret is that the game is kind of short. I would love to spend more time playing it. Even though I’ve spent most of my time stuck in one garden, it was not enough. The Gardens Between may be my favorite puzzle title of the year and I highly recommend it for the ones who seek a peculiarly designed gameplay experience.
The Gardens Between is now available on Steam and if you like what you read, you can take a look at the game’s page by visiting here.
The Gardens Between was reviewed using a Steam key provided by the publisher.
- Highly enjoyable gameplay
- A great time manipulating mechanism
- Relaxing soundtrack
- Dashing artwork & environmental design
- A little bit short