Overall Score 95%
Granny Gertrude has been an award-winning gardener though, as Granny has aged, her garden is becoming neglected. Worse yet, a neglected garden yields no veggies. Without veggies there is no harvest. If there is no harvest, there is no income- and Granny's bills are stacking up and her mortgage is due! It is up to you to manage Granny's garden(s) and earn money to both pay the bills and turn a profit!
Garden Dreams is what happens when an arcade game is combined with a tycoon/management game. At the beginning of each level you have a financial goal (like, $225 to pay Granny in three increments). It's real simple: water your plants and do not let them die, harvest the crop to earn money. Oh, and mind those nasty garden pests - they'll eat your plants and your profit.
As you earn money from your harvest, you can also purchase upgrades for your garden - a better faucet, a larger watering bucket, pesticide, etc. Finally, every time a level is completed, you also unlock new garden help- all sorts of things from garden equipment to helpful animals. Here's the real kicker: everything in this game is point-and-click.
Garden Dream's graphics are drop-dead gorgeous! Everything in-game is clearly rendered, easy to see, and vibrant - it is as though you are watching an animated movie. What grabbed my attention the most and ultimately won my heart is that each level presents a new graphical feature in terms of what kind of garden you are tending (outdoors, greenhouse, etc.), invading insects, plants, and so on is dynamic and constantly on-the-move. This is NOT a visually boring game.
Toybox games put together a music soundtrack for Garden Dreams. There are a few central musical themes that are played during gameplay as well as some themes that arise to herald events such as the arrival of the garden pests. As for the gameplay, the sounds heard are obligatory. I enjoyed the soundtrack, though it is a bit too sedating for my needs.
Surprisingly, Garden Dreams is a very playable game. Despite my prejudice of thinking of gardens as sedate environments, these gardens are a real handful. Furthermore, for those gamers with children (hey, that's me!) in the house - this is an excellent family game. As the levels progress, events do become a real challenge for both stamina and multitasking - there were a few times I was comforted with the knowledge that I could leave a challenging level and pick-up where I left off at a later date. Since PC gaming can be a real isolating activity, I liked the fact that this game can bring family together in challenging gameplay.
Is this game going to be played and then forgotten in less than a month? Definitely not! First of all, there are twenty-plus levels to work your way through. Furthermore, these levels are not quickly played; since granny need ever-increasing amounts of money, it can take awhile to accumulate cash from harvesting your crop- especially when bugs are eating your plants!
Next, I was amazed with the variety of choices available for the "resource management" aspect to this game. As gameplay progresses, you can choose 3 different helpers during play - if something does not work the first time around, you can juggle these "helpers", allowing for the game levels to be played out in a variety of ways. Add to this the choice of what crops to plant as well as different garden tools/utilities to choose from, you end up with a game that can be played over several times and each time differently.
There are many resource-management games available - so many choices and it is difficult to figure out which games are worth your time and money. I really liked that the developers added an "arcade game" element to a resource-management game - and the marriage works well! Garden Dreams is a game that presents itself in a manner that shows the developer put a great deal of effort into making a unique and entertaining game for all ages. This one IS worth your time and money. So, what are you waiting for?!
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