3 Reasons Why You Should Play The Gardens Between

The Gardens Between Gameplay

Earlier this month I shared my Crackdown 3 review and I thought since I've been playing quite a few games it was time for another little review. This time it's the turn of The Gardens Between, a game that is pretty much worlds apart from Crackdown's third offering. Not heard of The Gardens Between? Well, neither had I. However, I discovered the game whilst browsing through the games available to download as part of the Xbox game pass. The Gardens Between isn't the typical game I'd go for. The Gardens Between is a puzzle game developed by Australian studio The Voxel Agents. It was released back in September 2018 for Microsoft Windows, Linux, macOS, Nintendo Switch, P4 and Xbox One. The latter on which I played the game. Now normally I'm not a massive fan of puzzle games but this game intrigued me so I thought I'd give it a go and boy am I glad I did. So why did I like the game so much? Well for three main reasons.

1. The Gardens Between is challenging but fun

The first reason why I liked The Gardens Between was basically for the gameplay and the challenges involved. In the game, you play as two children, Arina and her buddy Frendt. There is no script and you only use three buttons in the entire game. You essentially take a journey into the memories of the girl and boy and have to solve each puzzle by carrying a lantern to the peak. Sound simple? Well, there are obstacles in the way when guiding the young pair. To overcome these you must manipulate time back and forth which is a fun and interesting concept.

Because you are able to bend time this creates many possibilities which really gives the game a challenging aspect. I wouldn't say The Gardens Between is difficult but it does make you think and you soon begin to realise how clever the game is once you start putting two and two together when it comes each puzzle. In the game, there was only one area that I got really frustrated with. For this, I ended up referencing an online guide for help but if you put your mind to it, The Gardens Between is challenging but fun. I certainly think the game is suitable for all ages although younger kids may need a little assistance here and there.

Arina and Frendt The Gardens Between Gameplay

2. The Gardens Between is beautiful and super calming

The second reason why I really enjoyed The Gardens Between? It is beautiful. Both visually and for it's story. Although this is something you that is pretty much interpreted by the player as there isn't a script as such. The game story centres around the young friendship of the pair and the memories they hold. Without giving too much away, the story is bittersweet and may even get you right in the feels depending on how sensitive you are. Visually the game is pretty as heck. There's just something about the cartoon artwork that works incredibly well with the game. It just feels very fitting with the story. 

Not only is the game beautiful, but it is also always incredibly calming. I put this greatly down to The Gardens Between soundtrack. Each track is pretty delicate and ambient giving that real meditative feel. The calming soundtrack teamed up with the casual untimed play enable you to feel next to no pressure at all and truly give you the feeling that you are able to work through the game at your own time and pace.

Arina and Frendt from The Gardens Between

3. If you're an achievement hunter, The Gardens Between offers a quick to achieve 1000 gamerscore

The third and final reason why I recommend checking out The Gardens Between? If you're an achievement hunter this game offers a very quick to achieve 1000 gamerscore. It took me just a few hours to complete the game and by that, I mean unlocking all the achievements. If you're someone who is looking to increase your gamerscore quickly and you want something relatively easy to play, give this game a try.

All in all The Gardens Between is a visual treat and a fabulous way to relax after a long and stressful week. Even if you're not a big puzzle fan like myself I recommend giving it a chance and seeing what you think. Perhaps you might enjoy it just as much as I did?

What is your favourite game to relax with?

Is Crackdown 3 Campaign Worth Playing?

Crackdown 3 Gameplay

One day when browsing through the games available on the Xbox Game Pass I decided to download the relatively new Crackdown 3. Prior to this, I'd never played a Crackdown game in my life. So  I pretty much went in with an open mind. Basically, Crackdown 3 is a third-person action adventure shooter that takes place 10 years after the events of Crackdown 2 in which a terrorist attack killed power around the world. In Crackdown 3 the agency traces the attack to a city called New Providence. This place is controlled by Terra Nova, a mysterious organisation. After the agency's first strike attempt fails, it's your turn as the player to dismantle Terra Nova.

A pretty game with a fairly easy to navigate open world

Crackdown 3 has a beautiful open world that is packed full of neon futuristic visuals which are super pretty. The open world its self feels fairly easy to navigate and it doesn't take a decade to get from one place to the next like some games. That being said this is obviously made easier by fast travel locations which you unlock as you progress through the game. In terms of the vehicles in Crackdown 3, there are some incredibly pretty cars in the game. I mean I found the cutest pink little motor. However, I hate driving in the game. It just feels really sloppy and I found the skill hard to level up.

Crackdown 3 Pretty Pink Car

Terrible driving

The game pretty much runs on a “skills for kills” system which means that to level up your skills (agility, strength, driving, firearms and explosive) you basically just use the skills. So for example with firearms, the more shoot and kill enemies, the more you'll up your skill. With driving to up the skill you need to compete in races. You can also go through stunt rings dotted around the map. For me because of the poor car controls, I found racing very unenjoyable. Going through the stunt rings was not much better either. 

Because of my lack of coordination, I found a few of them quite hard to complete. I even tested out to throwing the car through the ring and jumping through the ring myself whilst holding the car as a last ditch attempt to try and bypass my issue. However, neither worked although testing out both methods did give me a chuckle. I basically gave up on driving. I just disliked it so much and to this day it remains at a skill that prevents me from gaining a couple of achievements which is kinda frustrating. However, I'm not going to force myself to play something I don't enjoy.

Crackdown 3 Krill Noodles Pit Stop

Some aspects are fun but it does get repetitive

Another issue I have? The shooting. Now at first, I thought the auto-aim was a godsend. However, the more I play the more I realise that there is actually very little skill involved. Part of me kinda likes it as it gives the game a really laid back feel and it just feels fun. That being said it after a while it does get a tad repetitive and it starts to make you lose interest in the game. In my opinion, this seems to be a big problem with Crackdown 3, it gets repetitive. 

Collecting orbs, easily killing enemies with pretty much no skill and just blowing things up all contribute to the game feeling repetitive as time goes on. It just kind of feels like a bit of a grind. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy playing the game but it did feel a little old if that makes sense? Like it didn't feel like a new game because I felt like it lacked innovation and something new and exciting. I think for me personally the highlight of the game was battling the bosses. This is pretty much the only aspect of the game where I felt like skill was involved but even then it didn't feel difficult. Or even that much of a challenge. It was fun and laid back but a million times better than just going around the map collecting orbs.

Crackdown 3 Campaign Gameplay

Not terrible but not amazing

All in all, I didn't hate Crackdown 3 but I wasn't head over heels in love with it either. To a certain extent, I had a lot of fun playing the game. However, as I played more and more, I began to grow tired and bored. Once you defeat all the bosses and you're left with levelling up your skills, the game really does just feel like one massive grind. Also, just a heads up for anyone struggling with the "Justice Has Been Served" achievement, although you think you've done everything, you haven't and might be a bit confused. I know I was. Basically, if you check your targets page look at all the optional objectives under each target. You have to complete each one of those to get the achievement. I realised I was missing a Moonshine Kiosk and two Intel Fragments which didn't show on the map.

Have you played Crackdown 3? What did you think of it?
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