The Garden Path. (Louis Durrant)
A game that includes brewing tea? It doesn’t get much cosier than that, thanks to The Garden Path.
The game is being created by illustrator and lone developer Louis Durrant and will be released on PC later this year, with a Kickstarter just launched and a demo available to try out.
Coming from an illustrator, it’s no surprise that The Garden Path is gorgeous. The visuals are hand-drawn, all autumnal colours and dappled textures while the unique human and animal characters are wonderfully animated.
Together with the gentle piano music, it creates a wistful atmosphere that’s as calming and pensive as it is beautiful as you develop your quaint little rural idyll.
The Garden Path is a life-sim game that’s focused on tending a garden, as opposed to the more elaborate Stardew Valley or Animal Crossing.
You play as a ranger who’s tasked with keeping the peace with the natural world. That means managing the environment, planting flowers, and then harvesting those resources to brew cups of tea. Delicious.
Just like Animal Crossing, the game plays out in real time so its gentle pace fits around your lifestyle.
And while it does feature typical gameplay of the genre, some smart ideas add a novel twist – for better and for worse.
Fishing, for instance, is a staple of the genre but here it’s not just about aiming your rod (steady on), it’s about whistling to the fish. You direct a musical note over a grid to change the melody and must hold it in place to attract different fish – a fun take on a sometimes boring activity.
Collecting seeds and tools, meanwhile, is all done through trading. Rather than spending money, you’ll spend the resources you’ve collected. It’s an interesting way of debating the value of your resources, though it can be frustrating to not know a specific cost and instead rely on trial and error when purchasing.
Over the course of the game you’ll encounter various animal friends who’ll sell you goods and introduce you to their lives. There are also little vegetable-headed residents you can welcome to your garden, many of which are non-binary.
The Garden Path is shaping up to be a humble and peaceful little game. With a little more time to brew, it could well bloom into a unique take on the life sim genre.