The Gardens Between – a new project from the independent studio The Voxel Agents from Melbourne appeals to fans of classic puzzles, talking about the adventures of two childhood friends Arina and Frendt through a chain of memories made in the form of three-dimensional dioramas.
In The Gardens Between plays far from paramount role, however, without explanation on his account you will not understand what kind of surrealism happens next. In general, the characters in the game are two best friends – a girl Arina and a boy Frendt. In a magical way, our heroes are transferred to a fairy-tale world consisting of islands, each of which is dedicated to memorable moments in their life. Perhaps the whole story with the islands is only an allegory for an ordinary friendly conversation with bright memories from childhood. However, this is not known for certain. Developers from the Australian studio The Voxel Agents leave an interpretation of what is happening on the player. A fairly common case for indie games.
The essence of each level is to go from the very bottom of the island to its top, where the pedestal is located. It is necessary to bring light to him, about which later. The completion of each level gives a memorable item. By collecting all the items in the chapter, the player will receive one memory. In The Gardens Between, a player is not allowed to directly influence the heroes. They go their own way, react differently to the beauties of the world around them and independently interact with most objects. But in your hands will be time itself. It, like a cassette in a VCR, is rewound forward and backward by swipe right or left. At first, I just started playing over time, examining the behavior of heroes and various objects flying apart in “rewind”. However, already with the first level, understanding came that time management is not for beauty here. It underlies the gameplay. It is impressive and annoying at the same time. The fact is that on the basis of time rewind, the game implements ingenious puzzles. It’s great. But it’s not at all great to watch a hundred times how the heroes uniformly move back and forth. The further you go through the game, the more you will have to “rewind” the level back to solve the puzzles. In general, impatient is not the place. Fortunately, the developers will not allow the player to rewind the level from the end to the very beginning and vice versa, because each location is competently divided into segments by various obstacles, like disposable light bridges or incomprehensible purple clouds. With each new segment, the previous one simply “closes”.
Each of our heroes during the passage of levels performs special tasks. Arina carries a lantern, which must be filled with light from special sources, similar to an opened bud. There are also “flowers” that can steal this light. With their help, not only increases the complexity of the levels, but also solve puzzles. Arina can also pass the lantern to the “squares with legs” scurrying around, reminiscent of the “Indicator” from “The Secrets of the Third Planet”. Frendt’s tasks include activating light sources, black holes, or local time management through special bells. Local time management allows you to adjust a limited number of items, while not changing the “state of affairs” throughout the location. All the tasks of the heroes described above are activated by tap on the display when Frendt or Arina are next to the desired object: a bell, a “square with legs” and so on.
The Gardens Between is an insanely beautiful game. You can praise the developers’ attention to details and wonderful effects for a long time, but I will not do this, because everything is perfectly visible in the screenshots and in the game trailers. As you scroll forward, the camera flies around the entire level, allowing you to enjoy the island itself and its surroundings. An interesting trick in The Voxel Agents is in store for mobile devices: you can turn the device in portrait orientation and see the whole island. Therefore, it’s more convenient to consider the location for solving puzzles. In addition, play with one hand, of course. Musical accompaniment also did not disappoint. Nothing special, just a calm background melody wounding up “bright sadness” on carefree days from childhood.
The Gardens Between is a leisurely relaxing adventure with great graphics and entertaining puzzles designed for player attentiveness. I have not yet seen a single project with similar mechanics tied to time management. The need to rewind time after time to open a passage to the next part of the level is the only minus that I noted for myself in The Gardens Between. There are no checkpoints at levels in the game: progress on solving puzzles is not saved when leaving the level or from the game. Probably many players will be waiting for an exciting story for long hours. Unfortunately, The Gardens Between takes three hours maximum. At the same time, fans of indie and leisurely beautiful adventures will definitely leave only positive impressions.
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