Released on PC and home consoles earlier this year, The Gardens Between is a home-grown Aussie puzzle game that reflects deeply Australian culture, told through a gentle, indirect story.
Now released on iOS, perhaps it has found its true home as a premium mobile game. Every Level of the game starts and ends with you walking up a spiral to the top, but to reach there you must manipulate motes of light, so that by the end of the spiral you can place one at an altar found there. This sounds simple, but the game soon introduces time manipulation, which quickly becomes a key game mechanic.
Simply swipe and hold to the left to go back in time, and forwards to progress normally. This simply change opens up a whole new range of puzzle opportunities, and the developers deftly take up the challenge of creating tricky situations for you to navigate through. You’ll also have to deal with plants that steal your light, bridges and other clever obstacles.
The game is beautiful, carefully and subtly referencing Australian culture and its iconic characteristics. Here’s a hills hoist, here’s a tyre swing, a hose with a bright orange nozzle dangling around a craggy rock.
Playing on my iPad Pro 10.5” (2017) I had no issues running the game, though on my iPhone X it was a little difficult to see what exactly was going on in some of the more complicated, busy Levels, so I’d suggest using the biggest screen possible to play.
My only real complaint with the game is that the fast forward and rewind mechanics simply aren’t fast enough. When you’re trying to figure out a puzzle through trial and error, it takes too long to go back and forth to see what your experiment has done. Especially when swiping and waiting took twenty seconds the time it took to go back and forth added up quickly.
Fortunately the game supports keyboard controls (with arrows and the space bar), bluetooth and MFI controllers. Even though the controls are very simple I appreciate their inclusion, as I personally found it more comfortable to play this way, with the Steelseries Nimbus controller, rather than holding my finger on the screen all the time.
The Gardens Between isn’t a long game, but it certainly earned its modest asking price. Further, there’s no microtransactions, in app purchases nor anything else. It’s just one up front price, which I appreciate in today’s subscription-filled, microtransaction-fueled game and app economy.
If you haven’t yet delved into The Gardens Between, or were thinking about picking it up for console, the mobile version is a no-compromise port that is well worth your time.
Released: May 2019
Developer: Voxel Agents
Publisher: Voxel Agents