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February 2023

The Garden Path

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC
Genre: Adventure
Publisher: carrotcake
Developer: carrotcake
Release Date: 2021


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PC Preview - 'The Garden Path'

by Chris "Atom" DeAngelus on Aug. 2, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

The Garden Path is a slice-of-life sim about the joys of gardening, the comfort of building a safe place, and the butterflies you get from making new friends.

Sometimes, I just want to relax while playing a game, listen to some chill music, do something nice and peaceful, and relax. Games like Animal Crossing and Story of Seasons are great for that because you can veg out, and The Garden Path looks to be in a very similar genre. Currently running a Kickstarter, The Garden Path is a hand-drawn take on the "hang out" genre of games that looks like it has the potential to scratch all the same itches as some of the genre classics.

On the surface, the easiest comparison to The Garden Path is Animal Crossing. Like that game, you play as a self-created human character who exists in a world of strange creatures. Your goal is to create a comfortable garden for yourself and others and encourage your favorite fruit-headed creatures to stick around. The preview build is designed to show off the basics, but the Kickstarter page promises a number of additional things will eventually come to the game, and we're told there will be more customizations down the line. Different soils, plants, pots, and other customization options will let you make the garden your very own place.

One interesting thing about The Garden Path is that it isn't designed to be played for long bursts of time. The game runs in "real time," and while things are sped up to keep it from being dull, you're not obligated to log in every day to perfect everything. Instead, you can play for a few minutes before bed or during a quiet moment and check in the next day to see how your garden is growing.

Our preview build wasn't so focused on this, as its goal was to show off as much of the game as possible, but the final version is going to go all-in on being chill and relaxing. It seems like a nice way to capture the feeling of gardening in video game format in a way that isn't the heavy min-maxing style in something like Stardew Valley or Story of Seasons. It also doesn't seem to demand quite as much daily logging in as Animal Crossing, which might be a blessing if you're the kind of person who prefers checking in rather than making it a daily chore.

Of course, the thing that stands out most about The Garden Path are the visuals. The game is presented in a beautiful storybook art style that gives it a ton of personality. It's easy to see the environment and characters existing in an obscure children's storybook. The title captures the feel of cartoony and slightly surreal that I remember from books I read as a wee one. It also helps to define the game's personality as something more than just being similar to Animal Crossing. I like what I've seen of The Garden Path's art style, since it feels less cookie-cutter than Animal Crossing.

Overall, I was pleased with the preview build of The Garden Path. While still early in production, it had a relaxing atmosphere, and it was difficult to pull myself away from it. Between the charming graphics and the oddly addictive fun of meeting strange new creatures (Augustus the Bear-Scout is the best so far), I could see myself getting lost for hours in the final version. You can try it out for yourself, as the Kickstarter page has a downloadable demo, so you can get a glimpse of the tone of the game. Hopefully it meets its funding goal, and we can see more of this beautiful little game down the line.

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