Cute ‘Garden Story’ demo makes you think twice about smashing ‘Zelda’ pots

‘Garden Story’ has Conrad the Grape use craft and farm tools to defend and restore their island. — Picogram/Rose City Games/Viz Media via AFP
‘Garden Story’ has Conrad the Grape use craft and farm tools to defend and restore their island. — Picogram/Rose City Games/Viz Media via AFP

NEW YORK, Nov 14 — It’s a gentle adventure game that’s as much about helping neighbours, restoring the village library and taking care of gardens as it is about beating back an island’s worth of rot: the free demo for Garden Story should be harvested quickly before it disappears.

Dip your toes into the Garden Story gentle Autumn Town demo and you’ll encounter village wards populated by anthropomorphized plants — chatty tomatoes, encouraging elderberries, shopkeeping squashes — and intertwined with themes of neighbourly care and crop harvests.

Yet Conrad, the game’s walking, talking, smiling grape hero, doesn’t have time to collect seeds or start repairing houses.

It’s late already, so they’re immediately ushered into bed, getting a good night’s sleep before the next day’s exploration and adventuring.

Despite initial similarities to village and farming sims like Harvest Moon, Animal Crossing and Stardew Valley, the playable Autumn Town vignette shows that Garden Story takes at least as much inspiration from Nintendo’s iconic Legend of Zelda franchise.

Though Conrad’s supposed to be refurbishing the place, village containers can be smashed up to reveal currency as well as raw materials, as in a Zelda game.

Those scavenged items can be sold direct to a merchant, the money used for upgrades to a dual-purpose toolkit armoury, or donated to the local book keeper, who writes farming and building guides for the local community as their own understanding deepens.

So keep those public containers intact, or break them into little pieces — the other villagers don’t seem to mind right now, even if the Garden Story context makes you feel you should.

The demo introduces another traditional Zelda duty: Descending into underground warrens to battle bouncing slimes, solve block-pushing puzzles and defeat (or outwit) pungent bosses to retrieve key artefacts.

As well as delving into the island’s past and fighting the rot’s corruption, developer Picogram says that the full game will see Conrad fulfilling islanders’ requests and making friends, caring for garden plots, filling a scrapbook of memories and creating a library of island lore.

Garden Story Autumn Town demo is currently available until December 21 through Steam. A full release has been announced for Mac and PC in Spring 2020. Perhaps, after that, Garden Story might see its way to consoles too. — AFP-Relaxnews

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