Is picking the mean option in video games too difficult for you?
Are you a fan of games where everything is adorable, even the enemies? Do you just need something wholesome to play these days? If you answered yes to any of these things, let me introduce you to Garden Story, a whimsical little fruit and veggie RPG from developer Picogram and publisher Rose City Games!
It is a beautiful village, and you are a helpful grape.
Okay, the Untitled Goose Game tagline is applicable in many places with a little adjusting. And it’s fun, so can you blame me for using it? But unlike UGG, Garden Story is a game about helping your community rather than terrorizing it. Playing as a young grape named Concord, you take up your tools and set out to make your home a better place. Sometimes, this means gardening. Other times, it means bonking a weird worm with your sword until the library is safe once more.
Of course, there’s more to do than that, but here’s the important thing: everything you do in Garden Story makes the world a better place. Isn’t that nice?
Fighting the Rot isn’t a one man job, though. You don’t have to go it alone!
Garden Story is a game first and foremost about community. Not only is it Concord’s job as the new Guardian to protect The Grove, it’s also their heart. And it’s the heart of every resident you meet. Whatever you do, you’re not doing it alone, as the other sentient fruits and veggies of The Grove want to help you rebuild what the Rot has slowly taken away.
Plus, there’s a really neat memory system that’s tied to doing as much as you can within The Grove. As you reach more milestones and restore more of your world, you unlock memories and quests that add more depth to Concord (more flavor, perhaps?). Some of the memories can also be used to apply bonuses to some of your actions. You can’t apply every memory at once, but there are enough combinations sure to delight and assist in any play style. All you have to do is help your community, and reap the rewards. High five for being a team player!
The atmosphere is positively adorable, too.
For starters, it’s got a top-down retro pixel feeling to it, with amazing color palettes that reflect the time of day, and charming music on top. Even in a few of the more important areas, I still felt at ease, because nothing is designed to be particularly stressful. The emphasis on exploration and community-centered compassion combines so well with the unhurried atmosphere.
And hey, let’s admit it: all these little greens (I suppose this category does include your friend Rana the frog, if we’re being technical; she is green) are so stinking cute! Frankly, the character designs are something you’d expect to see a plushie or a sticker of. They’re wholesome and give me the urge to just gently squish them. But not too hard. I’m not a monster. Concord and friends just deserve love and hugs at all times!
Garden Story is one of those games that will probably heal your heart.
What else can I really say? It’s short and sweet and low stress, which is exactly the kind of game I like in between some of my more long-term favorites. It makes a nice palette-cleanser from heavier games or even everyday stress, and you don’t have to play for hours! Just a few minutes here or there makes progress.
At this time, you can get Garden Story for the Nintendo Switch, or via Steam for Mac or PC. If you need a break from all things dour, this might be just the trick. After all, it’s hard to look at Concord without smiling. Aren’t they just the sweetest little grape? https://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/1062140/header.jpg?t=1646239577