The folks behind the recent aquarium sensation Fish World have decided it was times to get their hands dirty – so they’ve gone digging in the dirt! Garden World is Tall Tree Games’ attempt to put a fresh spin on the farming genre by setting the scene in your own backyard. We’d had high hopes for the latest release from Tall Tree, but the flowers here didn’t smell quite as sweet as we’d hoped.
Tending to plant life in your own backyard, Garden World focuses primarily on pretty flowers instead of fruits and veg like its many competitors. You’ll plant seeds, water, and finally sell your flowers when they finally bloom. While waiting for your daisies to blossom you’ll pass the time weeding and decorating your backyard. It’s a simple approach to game design and one that should be familiar to anyone who’s ever played a game like FarmVille or Tiki Farm. In fact, Garden World feels a little too familiar.
Much of what you’ll be doing in Garden World mimics or mirrors gameplay elements that we’ve seen before. Garden World feels like little more than a combination of Fish World and a variety of well-worn farming elements than it does a wholly original concept. Planting, watering and waiting are elements common amongst many Facebook farming games. Other twists that seem fresh — like cross-pollinating flowers or keeping an eye on water levels — are ripped straight out of the developer’s previous game Fish World. Cross-pollinating is no different than cross-breeding fish. Water level simply replaces happiness level. The whole thing is a very cookie-cutter experience that mashes together Tall Tree’s previous success in Fish World with a more popular genre.
At best Garden World is a weak farming clone with a new coat of paint. Like their previous game, the visuals earn a solid A when compared to the rest of the competition. Great detail went into both the flowers and decorations, as well as the occasional animated pieces like streams or animals. But that same level of detail just isn’t there in terms of gameplay.
If our only complaint regarding the gameplay was a lack of originality we could at least say the game was decent despite being unoriginal — but our complaints run a little deeper. There seem to be two different schools of thought on how to make a successful farming sim. You can either A) give a player minimal gameplay with tons of land or B) minimal land with tons of gameplay. Garden World somehow manages to embrace minimal land and minimal gameplay. There’s very little to do in the care of your flowers, and there are very few flowers to grow. In fact, you’ll be stuck with only 10 available spots to plant in during the first handful of levels. With so few spots, it takes far too long to level up and earn cash. And if you want to expand your garden you’ll need to earn plenty of cash to get growing bigger.
Even the social aspects of Garden World feel uncharacteristically scaled down. You can weed your friends gardens and send gifts, but once we get into unique ideas gamers begin to feel handcuffed. You can fertilize your friends flowers to help them grow faster, but you’re only able to fertilize one flower for each friend every 12 hours. It’s a mechanic that’s similar to stealing fish in Fish World, but while the restriction made sense in that game (otherwise you could steal all of your friends and make the game totally unbalanced), limiting how helpful I can be here feels unnecessarily confining.
Garden World seems to borrow elements from a number of other games in the genre, and as a result never manages to develop its own personality. The idea of a backyard gardening game has promise, but Garden World just ends up feeling like a hodge podge of other titles instead of a fresh spin on the farming experience. A unique idea is great, but without unique gameplay the whole project falls flat. At the end of the day there are simply too many other quality farming-style games out there to recommend anyone spend time tending to their gardens in Garden World.