Garden Dash is a fun and challenging Dash game in a brand new setting.
It’s no secret that gardening is a great way to relax and to forget the worries of everyday life. Barb, the business woman from Diner Town, finds herself stressed out and miserable and decides to pursue gardening to bring harmony back to her life. In Garden Dash, the newest Dash game from PlayFirst, you’ll help Barb open up various garden shops all over Diner Town and supply local businesses with quality produce.
Garden Dash features 50 levels at five different locations, and for once the run-of-the-mill minigames that developers often feel the need to add have been left out. There are two grades of difficulty, and the harder one gets activated for each location separately after the location is cleared in Easy mode. On top of that you are also able to earn ten different trophies. Experienced time management gamers should expect a playtime of about three hours.
The gardening theme certainly feels very different in a dash game and can in no way be compared to Dairy Dash. Interestingly enough the player does not have to earn a certain amount of money to beat a level but rather has to fulfill a set number of orders within a time limit. And the timer is pretty unforgiving, particularly in the more challenging mode.
Your basic task is to plant various flowers, fruits, or vegetables such as peaches, tomatoes, or roses in pots, tend to them, and in the end deliver them to a basket, where customers will pick them up automatically. Each plant needs different tending, which makes gardening more complicated than the limited number of plants initially implies. Every plant needs to be watered, some even twice, peaches need warm clothes, roses like listening to music, while cucumbers only grow when Barb talks to them.
These needs not only provide challenging gameplay, but also create a quirky and entertaining atmosphere. That said, Garden Dash does still offer the usual color-matching mechanic. Each plant has a set color – garlic and roses are red, peaches and pears are yellow, grapes are green, you get my drift. The pots adopt the color of the seeds being planted in them, and the multiplier increases the more you plant seeds of the same color in the same pot consecutively. Instead of earning more money, however, you will gain additional time for the timer each time you chain similar actions or increase a color multiplier.
Another way to earn additional time is to collect relief leaves that drop to the floor each time you harvest any kind of plant. When the relief bar is full you can activate it, which will give full hearts to every plant you are currently growing and will stop the timer. In contrast to similar games, it’s the plants that lose patience, not the customers. Apart from that there are also additional obstacles or bonuses depending on location, such as escaped dogs, wind or fire from which your plants have to be protected. Upgrades include decorative items, better shoes, fertilizer, and special upgrades for pots, which adds another level of strategy to the game since every pot can be equipped with only one upgrade.
On the downside, some of the game’s features are rather unnecessary. There are at least three upgrades that I never really needed throughout the game, and regarding the pots the water upgrade simply makes the most sense, because every plant needs that step to grow. But apart from those minor quibbles Garden Dash has a lot going for it. A very fresh setting and gameplay for the dash series, extremely quirky and funny ideas, and a well-balanced grade of difficulty.
It is nice to see that PlayFirst is back on track creating more challenging time management games, although the playing time could have been a bit longer. If you cannot get enough of color-matching and chaining frenzy, as well as the charming inhabitants of Diner Town, Garden Dash will surely provide a very nice playing experience along with a few welcome surprises.