September dawned and marked the inaugural first day of PAX West 2017, drawing in developers and fans the world over to converge on downtown Seattle, Washington for a festival of all things gaming. From the biggest of producers to the smallest of independent studios, there are a lot of hidden gems to uncover at the convention, so here I am on the show floor to find them for myself and for you!
I was pulled aside at the Indie Megabooth by representatives for The Voxel Agents, who were presenting a charming little puzzle game revolving around the ability to play and rewind time. After spending some time with it, I must say I really enjoyed what I got to play of The Gardens Between.
The demo introduced me to a pair of playable characters named Arina and Frendt, and it placed me within a realm of small and isolated islands where I had to ignite a beacon at the end of each stage. Arina holds onto the lantern which houses a star I'd pick up within the field—with the game's main goal to carry it up the end beacon—and Frendt in turn interacts with a series of switches and buttons that activate a given effect. The pair moves automatically along a scripted path, but they come to a halt and can't advance further until their present obstacle is cleared.
That is where the ingenious ability to control time comes into play. By rewinding time, I found myself undoing avalanches of giant Jenga pieces and toppling over dominoes, or sending a robot back and forth around the island to safeguard the star lantern from star siphons along my own path.
Every star the player collects amounts to a constellation being formed, and with each constellation collected in the game's final release, you'll be able to piece together defining moments of Arina and Frendt's friendship, unraveling their history to reveal a more bittersweet story.
From the soothing, ambient soundtrack to its appropriately cool and vibrant art style, my time spent with The Gardens Between—while short—made for a pretty immersive experience overall, and I'm personally looking forward to giving the game a proper try once it launches early next year.
You can preorder The Gardens Between on Steam before it releases in early 2018, and it will be available for both Windows and Mac OS X platforms.