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Garden Galaxy – Review

I was charmed by Garden Galaxy’s demo last year – enough so to pick it up over the festive season. It offers a very simple gameplay loop. Click the ethereal garden visitor, collect their coin and pop it into the magical pot in the centre of your garden. Whatever pops up you’ll have the change to add to your garden you pop it back into the pot to trade for something new later on. It is a gatcha garden builder and I find myself very conflicted about its game mechanics.

Getting something this structured and beautiful will take time and effort but can feel very rewarding when it comes together.

Firstly, lets start with the positives. Garden’s are really freeform and can be built as big and complex or as small and zen as you want them to be. Everything is a comfy, squishy square and so you can’t have things looking too odd and weird. You can stack elements on top of each other to create height and some different elements interact with each other. Pop in a water fountain that lands on a plant and it will glimmer brightly. Other elements like candles, lanterns and lights can be switched on or off. You can also add in other animals like frogs, change the background colour, flip the day/night cycle and pop in some rain or leaves blowing about. All of these things slowly pop out at random the longer you play Garden Galaxy and after 10 hours, there’s still a few garden pieces in the menu that have question marks on them that I’d love to see spawn at some point.

Garden pieces are grouped into coin types that seem to spawn them. Gold, silver and bronze coins are the most common and they often spawn plants, flowers, pots, terrain and the odd ornament too. There are fish ones that can spawn water lilies and water tiles and curio star coins that bring out a lot of decorations. As some coins spawn more than others you’ll end up with loads of plants and nowhere to put them and so you can store them in unlockable chests and bins or pop them back into the curious pot to work towards a new spawning item of its coin set. Instead of spawning garden items, you can also place coins into piggy banks and these convert coins into a different type of coin. This can be handy to eventually get to to the types of garden pieces you want to spawn but be prepared to click on lots of visitors to generate coins to make a huge difference and hedge your bets.

There are several biomes which you can mix and match with such as forest, farm and zen garden.

It was here after several hours of relaxed 15-20 minutes sessions that my opinion of Galaxy Garden started to change. I found the gatcha mechanic was becoming more frustrating and I had swathes of plants and nowhere to put them. The RNG of some items seemed to not correlate to the space required to generate them so I ended up with stacks of plants and benches stacked 5 high trying to get some water tiles to make a zen garden. In the end I gave up because after 8 hours, I had spawned my 4th water tile. I had about 20 water plants though so they all ended up back in the pot trying to get me a water tile. This problem occurs everywhere and I think its a conscious design choice. It keeps you in the game, clicking and changing coin currency and trying your luck. I just wanted more freedom to build the things I wanted to build. Garden Galaxy has a lovely aesthetic and its charming to see it in motion like a retro screensaver. What I hadn’t anticipated was getting frustrated working my way towards getting those tiles.

I think this says more about me than the game to be honest. I do think there is an audience that will adore Garden Galaxy but you’ll need to be more patient and happy with hours of work meaning nothing than I am. I’ve seen some lovely screenshots and some crazy coin economy videos where people have gone full tilt into the gatcha mechanics. I think for me, I’ll leave it on as a relaxing AFK game every now and then to farm some coins and then stay with smaller, tiny builds to avoid getting too invested.

Garden Galaxy
Final Thoughts
Bump the score up a bit if you enjoy micromanagement of building materials. Lovely concept but the RNG feels a little too grindy to create the garden you want within a few hours.
Looks beautiful and has a relaxing vibe.
About 100 different pieces of garden to find and build from.
Total freeform build puts you as the creator and designer of every block, which is engrossing.
Gatcha mechanic does keep you entertained for the first few hours...
... but then the gatcha system gets in the way when you just want to freebuild.
As everything is so gatcha focused, starting again feels like an extra slog - just keep screenshotting and saving what you've found so far.
Grindy Mc Grind Face.

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