Garden Story is a wholesome adventure where you play as Concord the Grape. Tasked with the care of the kindergarten, where new townspeople are born, you quickly discover something’s not right. The vine that produces new people hasn’t done so in a long while, and it’s actually dried up. Then you’re thrust into the job of guardian, and tasked with saving The Grove. Adventure through 4 different areas to complete tasks and requests, forage a variety of items, fight off the Rot, and solve the mystery of why the rot are there and why the vine is dying!
Quests and Tasks
This is a very simple, easy to learn game and is pretty laid back. You can complete Garden Story at your own pace. So, if you want to rush through and finish the story line, then circle back to do some repairs and decorating, you can. Or maybe you want to complete a little of the story, then work on decorating, rinse and repeat, you can do that too! I love that about this game, because I often flip flop between the two play styles.
You will have main story related tasks to complete, but you’ll also have up to three daily tasks for the town you’re in. Completing these tasks will level up different stats for the town, which will unlock things like more weapons upgrades. Those weapons upgrades will become valuable later on. That said, I never completed a full line of upgrades on any of my weapons and was able to complete the story with no problems.
The main story is wholesome and compelling. You’re a tiny little guy who’s never seen the world, but suddenly you must venture out into and help everyone! Overcome the Rot and what’s causing it, help the villagers, and more. I didn’t think I’d ever care for a bunch of produce as much as I came to love and care for those in Garden Story. It’s carefully crafted and clearly has a sense of love embedded in the game.
That said, there IS combat. Your first weapon is a cute little item called a pick. It looks like a toothpick, and acts similar to a sword. It’s perfect for fighting off the blobs of grossness called the Rot. You’ll receive other weapons as you progress through the story and venture into each of the 4 areas of the island. Now, combat against the Rot isn’t particularly hard, especially as you upgrade your weapons. It’s also not always necessary. There are some instances where you need materials they drop, or a daily task wants you to defeat so many. Otherwise, you can just ignore them and walk on by.
Speaking of combat, there are boss battles. These boss battles are necessary to complete the story line, so if you dislike fighting in games, maybe skip this one. There are only 4, and they’re not wildly difficult. I did struggle with one until I upgraded my weapon, but after that it was easy peasy. You also get a shield that’s useful against ranged attacks.
As I’m writing this, I’m seeing there’s a “perish prevention” mode listed in the gameplay settings. This mode lets you forgo the stresses of combat. This mode also helps you with getting past difficult enemies and boss battles. I wish I’d seen that while I was playing. I bet that mode makes the whole experience SO much more cozy. So, if you want to play this game, but dislike combat, use “perish prevention”!
My Chief Complaints
Garden Story is one of those games where saves happen when you sleep for the night. Sleeping to save isn’t my favorite mechanic, but what I found really frustrating was that you can only go to sleep in the evenings in this game. Sometimes I just want to skip a day without running around all game-day, but that’s not possible here. Trying to sleep too early gives you the message “Concord isn’t tired yet”. Concord might not be tired, but I am!
This might just be me wanting to check out from using my brain when I play cozy games, but there was a lot of dialogue. It is how the story is delivered, but it felt like a little too much dialogue all at once. Some conversations were fairly long, I felt. Granted, those conversations deliver a heart-felt, heart-wrenching narrative that made me feel sad and hopeful for a bunch of produce! So they’re absolutely well-written and interesting. You get a good sense of the different personalities of the villagers you talk to, there’s just a lot of it.
Garden Story is absolutely adorable. I mean, you play as a tiny little grape named Concord who’s suddenly the guardian of all the islands. A tiny dude thrust into big things makes for a pretty compelling story. The graphics are cute, too, and there’s a nice, pleasing color palette. Plus, the background music is ambient and repetitive, but not annoying.
Overall, I’d give Garden Story a: