More of the same, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Austin returns to his childhood home only to find his parents haven’t been keeping up their garden as diligently as they used to. So, he and his mustache (and you!) decide to spruce it up. All you need is a little cash, which is easy to obtain by selling some of his parent’s things in a series of hidden object-style yard sales!
The format of Gardenscapes 2 is largely the same as previous games in the series, Gardenscapes: Mansion Makeover and the original Gardenscapes. It’s hard to argue with success, though, and the latest release is as good looking and addictive as ever. The game flops back and forth between hidden object scenes, which have a slight time management feel to them, and garden decorating. Your job is to help Austin and his family by inviting the neighborhood into different parts of the house to sell off some of his parents’ junk. You’d be surprised how in-demand an old pair of boots and a dusty mug are to these “collectors”.
Customers appear on the side of the screen during hidden object scenes, each asking for a particular item. Customers won’t wait around forever and gradually lose patience over time. The faster you find the item the better tip you’ll get, and as soon as one customer makes his or her purchase a new one hops in to take their place. Work through a dozen or two people and you can collect your cash and call it a day.
Scattered throughout each scene are coins, question marks, and certain special items like family photos. Coins have the obvious purpose of adding to your bankroll so you can buy better things for your awesome garden. Question marks supply you with hints, which are often more necessary than you’ll want to admit. There are also certain temporary power-ups, such as the magnifying glass which gives you a few precious moments of near-instant item discovery. Great for keeping the shoppers pleased!
Between sales you’ll spend some time in the garden, sprucing up the foliage, adding benches or a dog house, and just generally enjoying the fruits of your labor. Events happen from time to time that change up the basic formula, such as finding pieces of your grandfather’s album or cleaning the kitchen after a particularly messy meal. It’s just enough to break up the sale-garden-sale pattern, and it also gives you a bit of insight into Austin’s oddball relatives.
Visually, Gardenscapes 2 is a pretty stunning experience. Everything is bright and sunny and cheerful, which is always a welcome change from the dark themes of most hidden object games. There are a lot of little touches that round out the presentation, such as swaying pots inside the house or butterflies floating across the garden. It really is a beautiful game.
The only point against Gardenscapes 2 is that it shares a little too much with its predecessors. The basic structure is the same and the challenges are very similar. Playrix is hardly flogging the series’ name to death, though, as this is only the third game in almost five years, so it’s not like the formula has run its course.
Easy to get into and even easier to fall for, Gardenscapes 2 is a lighthearted mixture of item finding and time management set in a pleasant world filled sunshine and chirping birds. Nothing is unfairly hidden in the hidden object scenes, and there are just enough extras in the collector’s edition to make it worth a look.