Wednesday 19 August 2009

Indie Pack Reviewlet: Blueberry Garden

Blueberry Garden won the Best Game prize of this year’s Independent Games Festival. It’s an “interactive fairytale” in which you control an odd en-beaked individual (possibly Raymond Luxury-Yacht, though there’s no guide to confirm whether it’s pronounced “Throatwobbler Mangrove”) on his travels around a hand-drawn world.

At first glance it seems a fairly conventional platform game, you move with the cursor keys and jump with space, but you soon get the feeling you’re not in Miner Willy’s Mansion or Vorticon VI any more, Toto, with the distinct lack of enemies you have to carefully jump over to avoid losing a life. In common with The Path, Blueberry Garden is about exploration and discovery, but where The Path is dark, disturbing and heavy on the death, Blueberry Garden is fresh, whimsical and much more interested in fruit (so far, at least; I’m presuming you don’t fall into an inescapable pit of doom and despair further into the game). Something else Blueberry Garden has in common with The Path is relatively high system requirements: a 2GHz dual-core processor and 256MB graphics card are suggested, and the laptop did struggle with it. The game was just about playable but slowdown and stuttering did spoil things slightly, so I didn’t fully explore the garden, though I did start to make a fairly impressive tower of a giant pencil, block of cheese and a tomato…

Again it’s not something I’d go out of my way to pick up, but if I had to go exploring and the choices were a nice garden with some blueberries or The Forest of Death and Blood (“is there a story behind that name?” “why yes, everyone who goes there dies of death and blood”), the garden would edge it, and at £3.99 it doesn’t even need to last two hours to achieve Sherbet Dip Dab hourly cost parity. Overall: a blueberry-stained thumbs up. If, of an evening, I’m tempted to plunge into the sound and fury of Angry Internet Man forum debates over the bitter controversy of the day, I might go and wander around Blueberry Garden for a while instead; I suspect it would be far better for the blood pressure.

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