Finally, one of gaming's eternal questions has been answered: do you want to be a grape? The answer of course is an emphatic yes. In Garden Story, you play as the hero grape Concord, who works to help the townsfolk with their problems and cleanse the mysterious Rot that's taken over the land. Garden Story's charm is overwhelming, the music relaxing, and its thematic flairs a delight.
Beyond the undeniable charm of Garden Story, I became a whole lot more interested in the game when it was described to me as Legend of Zelda with a lighter version of Stardew Valley's social interactions. You mean to say that I get to kill some slimes and other monsters while hanging out with my buds Fuji (an apple course), the town elder Elderberry, and a pickle named Dillford? What more can you want?
Garden Story isn't all style with no substance, either. Beyond venturing out to slay enemies and cleansing the land of the Rot, there's resources to gather, gardens to tend, and buildings to repair. The Rot has done a number to the people that Concord's there to protect, so you'll be restoring everything to its former glory—going beyond that sometimes as well.
A lot of your time will of course be spent running around and restoring the damaged island, which means there's monsters to kill and puzzles to solve. Swinging what was in my case a twig felt right and just like a classic Zelda game. With only a short time with the game at PAX South, I didn't see much else in that department other than some puzzles.
At the end of my demo was a boss fight that had a mix of enemies to fight and a puzzle to solve at the same time. Solving the entire puzzle defeated the boss and let little Concord sprint his way out of the room in victory after collecting what he was there for.
That mix of combat and puzzle solving seems like it will be a key part of Garden Story's gameplay. Actively engaging some problem solving while whacking away at enemies is a great recipe for some enjoyable moments.
Story will be a key element to Garden Story as well. For as whimsical and relaxing as Garden Story appears, developer Picogram plans on having an engaging narrative as well. The overall theme will be about helping the community, but come in expecting more than just that. Interacting with the different island inhabitants, for as charming and whimsical as it can be to talk to a pickle named Dillford, will be deeper too.
Garden Story was very impressive in my short time with it, featuring a wonderful cast of characters I'm sure I'll come to love in quick order. Definitely keep an eye out for Garden Story when it releases on PC and Mac this spring.