The Gardens Between offers a bitter sweet time-traveling puzzle game that spins a single simple idea into a glorious four hours of playtime. We played The Gardens Between together as a family in one sitting with a coffee and ice-cream break half way through. By the end, this short but ever so sweet game had us wanting more.
The Gardens Between takes place upon a series of small islands each having their own theme based upon the memories of the two child protagonists. Each island is based in relation to certain aspects of the children’s past.
Starting one dark and rainy night you find yourself looking to scale to the top of each island and by doing so, deliver an orb of light that further enhances the two friends memories as portrayed by star constellations across the cosmos.
One island features a number of video games, another a huge TV with an old fashioned VHS video player. Other islands take their references from music, time spent in front of the TV with huge oversized family sofas and pop corn. Other focus on sport and card games.
While the control mechanism has you influence each of the characters actions, you the player are not responsible for their movement. This sees you take a back seat in the proceedings where you act as the characters guide by moving time backwards and forwards within to and fro patterns. By doing so, the characters use their abilities to interact with the beautifully rendered environment with each scene being accompanied by an equally pleasing soundtrack.
One character is able to operate switches to manipulate the environment to aid in the puzzle solving progression while the other carries the lamp containing the orb of light you must deliver to the peak of each island to move on to the next.
The majority of the puzzles are simple enough where you observe the cause and effect of items moving during the passing of time. That being said, some do require a certain amount of lateral thinking and a little thought. Others can be solved with good old guesswork and elimination of the options before you.
By the end of the game we left it wanting more and this for us is a strong mark of game that’s done it’s job. We went on with our day with somewhat of a warm and fuzzy feeling, happy to have played and yet sad to have completed the journey.
The Gardens Between is out now on the PS4, PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch (tested). Our copy was provided by the publishers for the purpose of this review and was a final retail code from the Nintendo online store. For more information on our review policy, please take a look here.