The Gardens Between (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Gabriel Jones 23.09.2018

Review for The Gardens Between on Nintendo Switch

Somewhere far beyond the real world is the realm of memories. It's a vast ocean dotted with many islands. Each island contains pieces of a memory. However, they are scattered and strewn about, much like litter on the side of a busy highway. Anyone who visits would have to reassemble their thoughts and discover the meaning behind them. The Gardens Between follows the tale of Arina and Friendt, lost in this surreal world. Only by manipulating time itself will they be able to find the path forward.

As an artistic medium, a videogame's strengths are rarely used to their fullest extent. Although it combines interactivity with a multitude of other media, such as music and film, the results often don't leave room for interpretation. These products usually have an intended purpose. Some are designed for entertainment, others for education, or maybe they are created simply to extract as much money as possible from wallets. Pardon the cynicism, but videogames are a billion dollar industry, after all, so all of that dosh has to come from somewhere.

Screenshot for The Gardens Between on Nintendo Switch

To put it another way, products designed solely to awaken thoughts and feelings tend to be pretty rare. If the user can't connect with that product, does that mean the product has failed its intended purpose? What if it's a personal issue? Perhaps there is something unexplainable that is preventing the user from making the necessary connection. This isn't an easy question to answer. If a game designed explicitly to hold entertainment value isn't any fun, then either it's a poor game, or the player doesn't understand it. It's hard to point fingers when feelings are involved. Not everyone is interested in unearthing what they have been trying to bury, and that's alright.

Still, it would be a lie to say nothing was felt after completing this little adventure. A lot of seemingly forgotten memories resurfaced, although hardly any of them were as pleasant as the ones depicted in the game. Maybe all memories should be left in pieces. Those that wish to recall them can find enjoyment in re-assembling them. Conversely, fragments are much easier to bury than what has been made whole. There's that cynicism again. Maybe it's one of the side effects of reviewing hundreds upon hundreds of videogames.

Screenshot for The Gardens Between on Nintendo Switch

As for this game, or rather, its gameplay, there really isn't a lot to explain. The player guides Arina and Frendt as they make their way around each island. The goal is to light the lantern and bring it to the altar, while figuring out a way past every obstacle. Only by controlling the flow of time can the best friends reach their destination. This is accomplished simply by moving the analogue stick left or right. By doing so, time can move backwards or forwards, which, under the right circumstances, can be an effective means for allowing the pair to progress. While there are a few objects that Frendt can interact with, solving each puzzle is typically a matter of reading visual cues and applying logical conclusions.

Every island has maybe three or four puzzles, and most of them aren't all that complicated to figure out. The entire absence of backtracking also helps to keeps the adventure moving at a brisk pace. Since there is rarely, if ever, a moment where the player finds themselves truly stuck, they can afford to let their mind wander. Given enough time, they might even recall distant memories of their own. This phenomenon, when paired with the stylistic visuals and great music, can make for a unique experience.

Screenshot for The Gardens Between on Nintendo Switch

All told, this journey won't last very long. There aren't an especially large number of islands to explore, and finding the solutions to all of them is an entirely linear process. Furthermore, there are very few secrets to uncover and absolutely no collectibles. Videogames that don't wear out their welcome are becoming increasingly rare, but some might feel that this one ends just a little too soon. What remains is a game that isn't afraid to embrace its niche appeal, as it dedicates all of its energy towards creating what could be an unforgettable series of events.

Screenshot for The Gardens Between on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The main strength of The Gardens Between is the deeper meaning found within. It utilises a largely voiceless and textless narrative to great effect. Not only is this an impressive feat on its own, it showcases the brilliance of the medium. This game eschews tradition to draw players into a fascinating world. As they witness the memories shared by Arina and Frendt, they may find themselves recalling their own childhood. While those memories aren't always the kind one can look back on with fondness, their significance can't be understated or forgotten. They are what shape us.

Developer

The Voxel Agents

Publisher

The Voxel Agents

Genre

Puzzle

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

Comment on this article

You can comment as a guest or join the Cubed3 community below: Sign Up for Free Account Login

Preview PostPreview Post Your Name:
Validate your comment
  Enter the letters in the image to validate your comment.
Submit Post

Subscribe to this topic Subscribe to this topic

If you are a registered member and logged in, you can also subscribe to topics by email.
Sign up today for blogs, games collections, reader reviews and much more
Site Feed
Who's Online?
mikem52

There are 1 members online at the moment.