Garden Paws, created by Bitten Toast Games, has it all in this simulation/adventure! You can garden, farm, fish, mine, run a shop, tame wild animals, decorate yourself and your home, build new stores and homes for the town, and much more! Constant quests to either progress the town or to help out some villagers makes it so that everything you do has a grander purpose, aside from just being cute that is.
The game is out now on Steam but is still not content complete. Meaning, the developers state that they are still building upon the game and doing frequent updates. However, there’s already a lot to do and we highly recommend starting to play now and be part of the feedback! It’s even on sale until July 9th, 2019! We’d like to also thank Bitten Toast Games for providing us with a Steam code so we could do a review and show our Potato Family the finer details of Garden Paws.
Customizing Your Character
When first creating your adorable character, you get to choose from 10 different species: Cat, Bunny, Fox, Bird, Badger, Dragon, Chipmunk, Horse, Dog, or Bear! Afterward, choose your color and design, which are called “skins”. Skins can be found in treasure chests or purchased later on after gaining access to that specific shop. Your character customization doesn’t even stop there! Once you begin to play, you can start getting clothes and accessories to wear such as glasses, headbands/hats, dresses, backpacks, and even beautiful wings of all sorts! Side note: the music will indicate when a treasure chest is nearby!
One of the most interesting accessories for your character is the Glider. After completing a certain quest, you get a free glider but you then have the option to buy prettier ones. With a glider you can jump from all of the hills and soar through the air at high speeds. I love getting around this way and taking short-cuts to where I want to go. It’s also a great way to reaching new little islands with different items to forage. In one of the updates by the developers, it is said that there will be a fast-travel method to unlock in the middle of your second year! It’s so wonderful that they’ve added some goals for the next year which makes me want to continue playing all the more!
Building Up the Town
The town of Florens starts only with a few characters, Frank being a vital part in helping you expand which brings in new villagers and shops. Certain buildings and characters are only available after quests, but for the most part you start off with quite the list. You’ll want to start off with the Blacksmith and the Miner’s Camp as they progress your main quests and unlock new areas to explore! Frank will ask you for some materials for certain expansions or buildings, or he will tell you to purchase the building outright from his Upgrade Table.
In the town there will be a few villagers with booths that sell cloth, seeds, inventory expansions, and lemonade (to gain more stamina). The more quests you do for them, the more items they will be able to sell! Sometimes they will even supply you with some blueprints so you can build your own things from workstations such as storage and furniture. This is also a good way to earn some money which you will receive as rewards upon completion.
Your Farm and Your Home
Speaking of workstations, some items are just for decorative purposes but others are key to quests. For example, you’ll need a Stone Furnace to make bars out of your ore or glass out of sand. You’ll need to always have coal on hand to keep the fires burning. You’ll probably first start out with a Campfire Grill, like I did, to grill up some fish to either eat for energy or to sell. Then, you can move up to a Cooking Station which is where you’ll be creating dishes out of your crops that sell for quite a bit of money! Both of these activities will take time, but you can queue up to 10 items for each and leave to do other things.
Gardening & Foraging for Crops
To grow some crops either by tilling soil or making some planters, you’ll need to either purchase seeds or forage. I love how you can harvest items all around the waterfall and forest areas, which takes very little stamina. I mean, free items! Sometimes you will even pick up some seeds as well as the crop which is my sneaky way of gardening.
What I find the most refreshing about gardening is that you can plant whatever you want, whenever you want, in any season. You don’t have to stress out about which crops you’ll need and how much time it will take them to grow. They also don’t wither at the end of the season. The items you can forage however will change with the seasons but you can always find the off-season ones in chests that will continue to periodically respawn.
Tilling you soil is a bit of a nightmare for those that want to perfectly place everything, even with the suggested “Grid Placement”. Placing anything for that matter can take up a lot of time as your cursor will start going all over the place with the slightest movement. I like the freedom of placement but a little more control would be nice. Now back to the crops. You’ll need to water your crops every day unless it is raining out or you have sprinklers! You’ll eventually get a blueprint for them and you’ll be set to let the magic happen! If you have animals, you can pick up their poop and use it to make fertilizer to get more seeds. Poop is actually useful for many things but more on that later.
Taking Care of Animals
You’ll be given your first chicken coop and some chicks for free after doing some quests. You can easily make chicken feed out of wheat which you can grow and forage or just buy the seeds early on. You only have to feed a chick for about 6 days in a row and then they become an adult. The best part? Adult farm animals do not need to be fed! I love this so much because it doesn’t deter you from taming or buying more animals than you can handle and frees up a lot of your time to do the many other things! It makes every day feel less like a chore and more like an exciting adventure with options. Your chickens will give you either poop, feathers, or eggs (all golden sometimes).
Getting your first barn and cows will be a lot more costly in terms of material, time, and money. This may not be possible to obtain early on unless you make it a priority and save your money. Again, the same applies with calves; feed them hay for a few days and they will become adults. Hay is made out of grass that you cut with your sickle and then place to dry. The cows will give you poop every day and you can use a wooden bucket to milk them.
You can choose to expand these buildings to house more animals (I have 6 chickens in one coop) or you can just make as many as you want! Therefore, there are no limits to the amount of animals you can have. Now that taming animals has been added to the most recent update, you can go in search of them and gain their trust rather than having to buy them! When you are carrying animal food with you, the animals’ favorite food will be displayed above their heads such as fish, grass, carrots, etc. In the wild you’ll find alpacas and dung beetles (hidden places), sheep, goats, and even hippopotamus that you can place in barns! Hippos, how cool is that? There are also other animals that you can purchase from a shop later on which will carry pigs for example.
As if that wasn’t enough, every large animal you own, you can ride! That includes the legendaries which you can read about in our previous post linked above. When you have a stable, you can also add horses to them and ride them to get places even faster!
Small Wild Animals
Smaller animals will need specific habitats for you to make before you start trying to tame them. Early on you’ll have access to one for cats and another for rabbits which can hold up to 3 of each. Unfortunately, if you miss a day of feeding them, your meter with them will drop so you want to make sure you have the time to do this consistently. I probably haven’t found all of the forest animals yet but you should also be able to tame deer, foxes, and ferrets that you’ll see roaming around. Normally I hate bugs, but the dung beetles can be particularly useful as you only have to feed them poop to tame them and then they will gather other animals’ poop in their habitat for you!
Something that I found interesting was the fact that all animals in the wild will respawn so you can keep taming as many as you want! Some of them also come in a variety of colors: beetles can be rainbow-colored, cats can be black and white, rabbits are brown and white, and sheep can be black, white, or pink! I’m definitely going to tame that cute little pink sheep!
You’ll notice that as soon as you tame an animal it will start following you. You need to lead it to its habitat to consider it yours and to name it. I figured out an easier way to do this is not to go all the way home with it but rather you can plop its habitat right next to it. Once it is yours, you can put everything in your inventory, provided you have a hammer to remove and relocate your habitat. I hope this is intentional because otherwise it’s a pain.
Shopkeeping and Selling Your Goods
On your farm there will be a table to place up to 3 different items which can hold a max number of 30 of that kind, and a cute little cash register. You have to go to your sign and open the shop from noon to 6 p.m. in-game and then watch multiple characters come running! These characters aren’t necessarily the ones from your town but I love that you can see all kinds of available skins like the one fox that looks like Amaterasu from Okami! They’ll buy absolutely anything you put on your tables, even poop! It’s a great way to not only make money but to get rid of your unwanted junk. Then you get to watch them scurry off with the item in their hands which I can do all day because it is so adorable.
If you have other pressing things to do, you can go into town and “hire” an assistant for that one day! They don’t cost you any money but they will take a 30% cut of your sales. You also have to make sure to hire them before noon so that they will open your shop for you automatically. I’m not sure if this is intentional or a bug but it is not a huge deal since I often go to town. There you can purchase expansions at the Upgrade Table to have more tables to sell more items which will in turn bring more characters.
Fishing and Bait
Although fishing is my least favorite thing to do in the game as it takes a lot of time (you can sit there and not catch anything) and effort for very little payoff It is however necessary for one quest so far, and to tame cats and foxes. You need fish bait to catch anything at all which can only be found in certain plants that will yield Insects, if you are lucky.
The animals do have very specific types of fish they want so you just have to hope you catch the right ones among several different kinds. You will occasional catch garbage like soggy paper which also consumes your bait. Too bad there isn’t specific areas for certain fish. I used to think old bottles were useless but you needs those for the quest I just mentioned and to catch bugs in them (butterflies and bees). The seaweed you also catch can actually be made into sushi so there’s that. On the bright side, fishing doesn’t take up your stamina.
Mining and Cutting Down Trees
Mining can be fun as you can use your pickaxe on rocks that are found everywhere, or go to town and unlock caves to find geodes and coal. When you find geodes, you need to use them on the anvil to get rocks, copper, silver, or gold. You’ll need to do this quite often so make sure to upgrade your tools by buying them from the Blacksmith. You can eventually make your own anvil at home as well so you don’t have to keep going into town.
Cutting down trees or even bushes is what you will be doing the most of in order to make anything. What I found useful is that if you are already going around for a ‘forage run’ then you can often find logs lying around that you can “harvest” which takes up way less energy and can add up quickly without you noticing much.
Seasons and Festivities
It took me approximately 10 hours to complete a season and I’m already in winter of my first year. Yes, that means I put 40 hours into this game already and still going! Time flies when you’re having fun! Your surroundings will change based on the season you are in and, as previously mentioned, different items such as plants and crops will appear all around Florens. I also just found an arctic fox in the winter month so my next immediate goal is to tame it. Winter also has the most adorable decorations like candy canes, wreaths, and gingerbread cookies all over town.
Every season, except summer for some reason, has either special items to purchase or contests. I don’t want to give too much away on this but in the middle of spring you can find hidden Easter eggs all around town! Bring these eggs to the new bunny character and smash them for surprises! The rarer decorative eggs will have better items (I won a sprinkler and clothing) and maybe some tickets! You can redeem tickets for the best of prizes but those darn multicolored bunnies cost a lot! These eggs are very small and hidden very well so I had a very hard time finding them. I ended up only getting about 5 and supposedly there are 20.
I just wanted to mention that at nighttime, exactly at 10 p.m., you can look to the skies and watch where a shooting-star will land. Usually it is in the forest for me which doesn’t give me much time to return home before midnight. When midnight hits, you will pass out and go to the next day but aside from that I don’t see any other penalties. It can be a nice warp home actually. If you manage to get that shooting-star, you can break it open on the anvil for extra surprises, use it for some quests, or donate it at the Museum.
Controls and Details
Not many buttons are explained to you so it is probably best that you check your Controls menu. You can also remap the buttons of your keyboard and mouse as desired. I figured out pretty late that there’s an “auto-run” button which would have saved my fingers a lot of pain.
Until you get used to where everything is, it is very easy to get lost. Even with a map in your menu. I wish there was a mini-map on my screen at all times. The character names on that map are not listed very clearly and I would like the names of their respective shops there too. Maybe even an overall name for sections of the map so I know what the quests are referring to.
I really love receiving letters in my mailbox telling me if something has changed or if there’s something going on. I want to make sure I don’t miss anything so I find myself running around everywhere to check if anyone has a “!” above theirs heads for new quests. All quests stay listed on the screen and let you know if you have the required items, which is nice so I don’t have to keep clicking around menus.
Game Playthrough – Starting Out
Although I haven’t tried out the online multiplayer part of the game, I’m really looking forward to it. You can meet members of the Garden Paws community! With the newly added Creative Mode and some occasional “socials”, it sounds like this could be a blast together! However, for the sake of this review I only had time to do offline single-player. Below you will find a few minutes of gameplay footage from the beginning of the game, as I urge you to play for yourselves and discover everything Garden Paws has to offer! You’ll also see my first holiday and my first taming of an animal. We here at myPotatoGames look forward to more quests, and updates that will later include dungeons and mini-games as stated by the developers!