One of the more unusual games that I played during PAX East was a puzzler called The Gardens Between; currently in development by The Voxel Agents for Mac and Windows, it’s a rather casual adventure game about a couple kids- Arina and Frendt- going through memories and solving puzzles. The way that it plays is pretty simple- you can drag time forward and backward in order to solve puzzles, since some aspects of the game’s environments aren’t affected by the flow of time. The Gardens Between is more easily played than described; the skinny of it, however, is that you need help Arina and Frendt to bring a little light from one end of each level to the other while avoiding obstacles that could take the light away. During the show, I had the opportunity to chat with the game’s artist, Josh Bradbury, about his role developing the game and how he came into the industry- you can watch that below.
Personally, I really loved The Gardens Between for its gentle pacing and aesthetic. The game’s not rushed- though I couldn’t listen to its audio at PAX, there was something incredibly idyllic about its atmosphere, it does a good job conveying the feeling of being young and walking through nature. It’s almost Waldeinsamkeit, as the Germans would say, albeit with less solitude and more whimsy. The game’s puzzles felt intuitive to solve- that is to say, they made good use of the mechanics and concepts involved, and felt fair. While the few puzzles in the game’s brief demo weren’t particularly difficult, if the developers play their cards right, the finished puzzles could become comfortably difficult- challenging, but not unfair.
There wasn’t anything that I really disliked about The Gardens Between– honestly, I think I’d have to play more of the game for deeper criticisms to emerge. That said, I’m hoping it doesn’t fall into the trap of vaguery in place of a well-defined story- the brief bits of art at the end of the demo which depicted a bit of the friendship between these two characters was sweet as pie, but it wasn’t particularly deep. Again, the demo was quite short, so there’s probably a lot more to the story- we’ll just have to see how it turns out when The Gardens Between is released later this year. Did you get to try The Gardens Between at PAX East? If so, what did you think of it? Sound off below or hit us up and follow @1RuleBeCool on Twitter for all the greatest game news; be sure to follow me for my own views.