A Walk Down Memory Lane
A stormy night leaves two unhappy friends alone in a battered old treehouse. An orb of light appears between the two of them and after touching it, they’re sent into a surreal journey reliving their past friendship and the steps they must take if they wish to remain friends.
The Gardens Between created by The Voxel Agents is a puzzle game that’ll leave you reminiscing on your childhood and the friends you’ve made along the way. It’s one of those games that, after finishing, you think back to weeks later. Even if you’re not a huge fan of puzzle games it’s still worth playing for the story, visuals, and of course, gameplay.
Toying with Time
The controls are simple. Move left or right and occasionally tap an orb on the screen. No really. What I probably loved most about this game is how easy it is to play. The game doesn’t ask much of you when solving its puzzles, just to relax and think things through. There’s no pressing time limit or a monster chasing you, just the simple goal of getting an orb of light from point A to B.
But it wouldn’t be much of a puzzler if that’s all there was to it. Much like Superhot or Braid time moves when you do. The characters and environment do not move unless you press forward or backward on the screen. When you press forward time moves forward, when pressing backward time reverses. As the levels progress, more and more obstacles will get in your way stopping your orb of light reaching the end goal. Cleverly manipulating time will allow you to move past these obstacles but it might take a couple of tries before figuring the right path to reach the end. The only thing I wish was added is an option to choose the speed at which time moves as some segments can be a bit sluggish.
A Beautiful Garden
Cutscenes are spread out among the levels into fragments. Each completed level unlocks a new fragment of the friends’ memories, eventually revealing important details about their lives. The background scenery of the game is not only gorgeous but also provides glimpses into the lives of these individuals. You see oversized toys, electronics, and drawings from their time spent growing up. These objects can often be found floating and mish-mashed together giving off a dream-like vibe similar to Kentucky Route Zero.
The soundtrack Glowing Pains by Tim Shiel deserves praise as well. The music invokes an ethereal nostalgic feeling throughout the game which serves to heighten the overall experience. Pair that with some excellent sound effects and the game is very pleasing to the ears.
At one point my eyes widened when my phone vibrated the same time lightning struck in the game. I think that’s when I knew The Gardens Between was going to be something special. The presentation of this game is top-notch and The Voxel Agents do a great job at making full use of the mobile platform the game can be played on.
The Power of Friendship
The Gardens Between is a prime example of what can be accomplished with a mobile platform. Moody atmosphere, unique puzzles, and a captivating story make this a gem of a game. The Voxel Agents have put together a one-of-a-kind experience that can be enjoyed by all players. And with a fantastic soundtrack to boot, I can’t recommend this game enough.
Is it Hardcore?
The Gardens Between takes full advantage of its mobile platform to deliver a thoughtful puzzler that will leave you wanting more.