Geisha: The Secret Garden, the debut game from France’s Casual Box Studio, is relaxing mixture of match-3 and mahjong where players will journey through the four seasons at the side of a beautiful geisha named Natsumi.
Based on the hands-on time we spent with a demo of Geisha, the gameplay is certainly unique. The game board looks like a regular match-3 grid (think Bejeweled), but is populated with mahjong tiles. The goal is to match three or more of these mahjong tiles by dragging tiles horizontally until three or more of the same type are side by side, which causes them to disappear.
This may sound terribly easy, but there is a catch: you can only drag the tiles horizontally, not vertically. Once cleared, no new tiles fall from above, although existing tiles will slide down to fill empty spaces, so there are a limited number of possible moves to make – just like in traditional mahjong. Using strategy, you’ll have to clear the tiles in such a way that you don’t run out of moves and are able to complete the level goal by clearing a certain number of tiles off the board.
The game offers 80 levels, split into four seasons, plus 16 bonus levels. You can decorate two different zen garden backgrounds by earning 48 different plants and decorations for it throughout the game. There are also two modes, including a relaxed mode where it’s impossible to lose.
The full game is currently available in French at CasualGames.fr, and the English version should be launching any day now. (As always, we’ll let you know the moment that it does.) A version for Mac is in the works as well, according to the developer. In the meantime, check out some screenshots and a teaser video, or chat about the game in our forum.