2018 has delivered some compelling indie games across console, handheld, and PC. Regardless of how the quality came from these various titles, the small bite experience has given some of the grander IP’s a run for its money. Breaking away from the sprite or Metroidvania works that have flooded the market, the simple and clean, with every intention of being relaxing, The Gardens Between has produced a fresh and lovely experience that sadly tells a warm yet heartbreaking story with time.

The Gardens Between is a puzzle game developed and published by The Voxel Agents. You control two teenagers, Arina and Frendt, who, on a stormy night, hide out in their treehouse but then transported to a world where you control time and perspective. When you finish the puzzle, pieces become release which forms a memory. There are no voices but clues with the body movement and actions of the world.

Arina carries a lamp where she can form bridges and solve the final piece of each end with Frendt. Frendt controls other perspectives by freezing time, forwarding and rewinding parts of the world, and opening and closing certain boxes. When you move, your moving time. Everything is on a set track and depending what gets block or open, you’ll follow that path that is allowed. You’ll have some trial and errors but if you pay attention, you’ll be able to solve the problems at hand.

Which is a great thing, because The Gardens Between isn’t a difficult game. It relaxes you with its creative designs, beautiful and colorful artwork, and mesmerizing music. The lightness of everything makes the complete 8 stages makes the thought-provoking puzzles entertaining.

The only thing that hinders the game is the replay value. Unless you want to speed run it or get the platinum/achievements, there’s no use of coming back to the game unless you need something to pass the time. There’s no cliffhanger, no twist and turns, and words describing what it all means. As hard that is to take in, you may want to come back to the game weeks or months, just to see if you know what has to be done. By that time, you’ll be suck again.

The Gardens Between is not only a surprise game that arrived this year, but it vivid puzzles, story, and music draws you in with its stupendous quality in its presentation and execution. Light-hearted as it is with least replay, The Gardens Between is a game you should pluck onto your system of choice.

5 out of 5 Yoshi Coins

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