Everybody knows this story: the story about a princess locked up in a castle and the hero who goes to her rescue. He then faces countless monsters and perils before reaching the tower and facing the utmost challenge: a powerful wizard (or dragon, orc, or similar threat) who imprisoned her in there. The hero then fights the evil enemy with all his guts and finally saves the princess. That’s what we are used to seeing in most of the stories… but not today.
Developed by the solo developer npckc and published by Ratalaika Games, A Hero and a Garden is a visual novel where you play as the hero of the abovementioned story who tried to rescue his princess by fighting a dangerous witch… and lost. Now, under a curse from this same witch, he is a prisoner in her village who will have to tender a gander to repay all the damage he’s dealt to the monster society. During the process, he’s attitude will be put at test as he finds himself obligated to help the inhabitants of this society while learning important lessons that may change his character.
And how does he help these inhabitants (monsters)? By growing different berries in the witch’s garden. New errands will be given to you from time to time and once you gather that many berries, a cutscene with one of a group of monsters will unlock. By attending these errands, he will receive money that will be used in repairing the monster city. And this is how your adventure unfolds in this game.
By adventure, please remember that all the action you will see in this title will be to pick up berries and delivering orders to interact with other characters – what would keep your interest for no longer than 10 minutes. Yes, the gameplay here is VERY limited, what would turn this short adventure in a real boredom. This feeling is attenuated by three main aspects: first, the story development that came out pretty interesting – and I didn’t see it coming. Second, the cute and colorful hand-drawn art that reminded of the early 2000’s flash games we used to play in our browsers. And lastly, the amazing soundtrack, so calm and comforting, that put me to sleep a for three days in a row while reviewing this game. If you suffer from insomnia or have infants at home, consider playing these amazing melodies while going/putting them to bed. They’ve done wonders to my sleeping problems.
A Hero and a Garden is a charming indie game with a beautiful story. The nature of its gameplay may not be the most thrilling or exciting – like most games of this kind aren’t – but its short story carries a beautiful message that can touch the heart of players. Plus, if you are a Gamerscore enthusiast, it won’t take you longer than 2 hours for those sweet 1000G. Visual novels may not be the most appealing gender of games to you, but a change of pace is always good for your heart. Give it a try: maybe npckc will surprise and even enchant you with this title.
With a history of gaming that goes from his old man’s Atari 2600 to his Xbox One, Rafael or RAF687, our Brazilian editor, has a love for games as old as he can remember. He has already spent countless hours in many consoles (Mega Drive/Genesis, Sega Saturn, PS1, PS2 and Xbox 360) and is always ready for more (as long as his wife is asleep). Raf has been writing for LifeisXbox since 2017, with a passion for games of almost all genres – though we know he has a special place in his heart for RPGs, racing games and anything that includes pixel art. Writing about games has always been a childhood dream to Raf, dream that he has fulfilled reviewing games for you here. You can drop him a message at Twitter, Facebook or Xbox Live at any time.