Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator – An Honest Review

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator

“Garden Life is a relaxing gardening game in which you create your dream garden in a peaceful, colourful world. Plant and add ornaments at your own pace, transforming an overgrown forgotten plot into a flourishing community garden.”

Developer: stillalive studios
Publisher: Nacon

Release Date: 22 February 2024

Tags: relaxing, simulation, singleplayer, casual, 3D


Game Trailer ๐ŸŽž๏ธ

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator – Official Pre-Order Trailer

Buy the Game here ๐Ÿ‘‡

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Disclaimer

I received a key for Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator from Nacon to play and review this game.

The contents and opinions in this review are my own and not directed or influenced by Nacon in any way.


๐ŸŒฑ Review – Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator [Story Mode] ๐ŸŒฑ

Entering the Garden ๐Ÿšช

After I start the game, I am greeted by a set of letters and postcards informing me that I will be the new manager of the community garden after the previous manager, Robin, has tragically passed away. It is now in my hands to restore the garden and honour the memory of Robin and their vision. The letter includes the address of the garden and I find myself stepping off the bus in the correct location where Jasmin greets me. And with that, I can cross the street and take a first look at my new botanical project.

The game is first-person only and neither the main character nor the NPCs have any physical appearance. Whenever we speak to someone, their drawn portrait and speech bubbles appear at the bottom of the screen. This is something that irritates me a little, but we will get back to this later.

As with most gardening/faming types of games, the garden is overgrown and full of dead plants and weeds that need removing. I can tear weeds and use a shovel to remove larger plants to clean the first section of the garden. There is a bridge at the back that leads to a larger area with a greenhouse, but the bridge is collapsed and the other areas inaccessible at this point.

The starting area features a small round house, in which players can find and store seeds and equipment, view an encyclopedia with information about the flowers and villagers, and our current tasks. A cute little cat also calls this place her home.



Gardening ๐Ÿงค

Gardening is one of the main gameplay mechanics of Garden Life. I am introduced to planting seeds, watering the seedlings and plants, and ultimately gathering cuttings and new seeds to progress the game.

By gathering cuttings and turning them into bouquets, I can make a bit of money to buy decorations and expand my toolset.

Cutting the plants is a mechanic I really enjoyed, a white line indicates the area where the cut is made so you can choose how much you want to cut off and even shape plants that grow in multiple directions, such as bushes.



Sometimes, plants can be infested with pests, which need to be removed using a pest spray.



Taking care of the plants is a bit repetitive but very calming and fun. The plants grow very fast (a cut you made in the morning can have grown back in the afternoon) and seeing your plants bloom is very satisfying.


๐Ÿ  Exploring the Town

The town is the place to shop, sell bouquets, or complete collections.

I find the town to be really beautifully designed, everything looks dreamy and colourful and like a wonderful place to live. However, I notice very quickly that there are no NPCs in the town, neither walking around or standing in the shop. When you interact with a shop counter or someone speaks with you, a drawing and a speech bubble pops up but both the player and the NPCs have no physical body. While I play, I notice that I find this to be increasingly unsettling. I feel alone and like I am the only person living in a ghost town, trying to restore a community garden that no community will ever see. I was hoping that my work could be enjoyed by someone other than myself since the garden was advertised as a community garden.



The town also features a festival pavilion (also empty) that I am asked to fill with my botanical creations. This gives the player bigger goals to work towards than requests from townsfolk.



๐Ÿธ Decorating the Garden

After selling some bouquets and making a bit of money, I am able to buy some decorations for the garden. These range from useful things like flower beds or stepping stones and signs to decorative objects such as statues and garlands.

I particularly like the frog items, and place a few of them around the garden.

All decoration objects can be edited to show a different colour scheme using the magic brush.



The decoration feature is very cute and allows you to be creative with your garden. Being able to freely place all items without a grid and the possibility to change the colour of items are functions that I appreciate a lot!

One thing I do want to point out is that you cannot walk through decorations like poles with fairylights, so they do block your path if you intend to use them to decorate the areas you walk through. These limitations as well as the small space for planting in the first area cause me to not want to decorate too much initially.


๐Ÿชด Summary: The Good and Bad of Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator

โž• The Good

  • beautiful, atmospheric graphics
  • adaptive plant growth
  • realistic plant cutting mechanics
  • cute options to decorate your garden
  • relaxing game, no time pressure or difficult gameplay

โž– The Bad

  • tedious inventory management, not enough inventory space
  • limit of how many flowers you can plant, leaves you with empty space
  • no NPCs, no visitors in your garden, town feels lonely
  • no seasonal or growing requirements
  • repetitive gameplay, all quests require you to cut X flowers or make X bouquets
  • gardening is very simple, not a simulation
  • function to sort your storage is missing, manual sorting is very tedious

๐Ÿ’ธ Is Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator worth it?

As always, this very much depends on what you are looking for when buying this game.

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator is, first of all, not a gardening simulator. Gardening consists of putting seeds down (no need to make a soil bed), watering the plants, and spraying bugs. Plants grow within a day or less and there is no real challenge to gardening. Requirements for the plants to thrive do not really exist.
This game is a cosy game using a repetitive, relaxed game loop (cutting plants and making bouquets) to progress through the storyline.

One of the major drawbacks of this game for me is the missing population with NPCs and the missing quality-of-life options such as inventory management or sorting your storage.

The game visuals have so much charm and life, but the gameplay is more or less soulless.

I would recommend Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator at a discount, and if you are looking for something relaxing to play on the side or at the end of a day to unwind.

Rating: ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

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