In Kelly Green: Garden Queen, it is your task to help Kelly with managing her inherited nursery. Farming is not exactly a rare setting when it comes to time management games, but this game not only feels fresh but is one of the best time management games of the year so far.
Kelly actually considers herself a city girl, and prefers cooking over farming. But when she inherits her grandparents’ nursery, she has no choice but to learn the ropes. In 50 levels that cover the four different seasons, the player has to help Kelly, her brother Neil and two other characters to lead the nursery back to its former glory.
Kelly Green: Garden Queen is mainly about plants and herbs, such as lavender, hibiscus, rosemary, basil and roses. In the beginning of each level you can stock your nursery by buying seeds, lemonade to calm down your customers, or new and better tools and machinery in the nursery catalogue. Which seeds are available varies from day to day and also depends on the season. During each level you have to serve both customers who arrive at the roadside stand and customers who are ordering by phone. While the roadside customers are individual types like the Business Man, the phone customers are shops such as Betty’s Baby Mart or Wendy’s Wedding Planning.
Customers will order bouquets of different flowers, which you then have to plant, either outside or in the greenhouse. Some plants even have to be grown in the greenhouse first, only to be replanted outside later on, like the iris. You will also care for cows which in turn provide you with milk, that you can also sell along with butter, packed soil and dried plants. Admittedly the variety of products is not as large as that of similar titles, and on top of that all of the products are worth the same, but this turns out to be a very smart decision by the developer.
Since Kelly Green: Garden Queen is fast-paced enough as it is, too many products or complicated production cycles just would have spoiled the game. In this context it is also worth mentioning that the introduction of new products, features or upgrades is simply spot on. Thus the game never feels repetitive and upholds a certain quality from the beginning to the end, which surely is a remarkable achievement.
The nursery setting is depicted in an absolutely realistic way. Depending on the season, gophers, aphids, bugs and crows threaten your plants, and different protective measures must be taken for each, such as scarecrows, ladybug houses, swallow roosts and cats. Cows provide your nursery with soil, as do dead plants, which can then be carried to the composter. The light and the landscape change according to the current season, which adds to the wonderful atmosphere.
What is really stunning about Kelly Green: Garden Queen is its well-balanced level of difficulty. While it may be a rather easy challenge to just pass the majority of the levels, it gets remarkably harder to achieve a blue ribbon, or even a silver and golden cup. This means that one rarely gets stuck at any level, while the player will certainly feel urged to replay every level until all the golden cups have been won.
By the end of the game you will have developed sympathy for all those wonderfully drawn characters, and you will surely miss the funny and imaginative descriptions of customers, plants, as well as the really engaging and lovely storyline. It is definitely an achievement that you notice the love and the effort the developer put into this game in every bit of it. The only flaws of the game are the common setting, and its lack of a free mode, but you probably won’t notice these flaws at all anyway.
All in all we highly recommend everyone to give it a try, because there is no clearer sign for a high-class game than a reviewer searching for flaws with a magnifier, yet still without success. Kelly Green: Garden Queen definitely sets a new standard when it comes to farming games, and earns high grades in every aspect that is important for a game.