The Gardens Between Review

The Gardens Between Review

Developed by The Voxel Agents
Published by The Voxel Agents
Reviewed on PlayStation 4 (also available on Nintendo Switch and Steam)

The Gardens Between is a surreal puzzle game that features minimalist controls and a fascinatingly crafted audiovisual experience. With its vibrant verdant landscapes, highly varied interactable objects, and dreamlike presentation, the game is a joy to behold at every turn. Its simple premise and well arranged set pieces lead to fulfilling puzzle solving sequences. Each new stage is full of joy and provides plenty of surprises. Its elegant simplicity creates a fulfilling puzzle game that will undoubtedly captivate players.

The game follows the adventures of Arina and Frendt, who are two friends hanging out in a tree house on a rainy day. Their peace is suddenly interrupted when their space seemingly tumbles, which transports them into an unfamiliar landscape. Their tree house becomes a makeshift boat as they sail to mysterious islands on a seemingly endless sea. As they light the beacons of each peak, the player experiences surreal moments including nostalgic visions of the friends’ past.

With its straightforward controls, the game balances depth with simplicity in a meaningful way. The only inputs are left, right, and an interact button. Pressing left and right moves the two friends in the corresponding direction. Any object glows whenever a nearby character can interact with it. Pressing the button results in picking things up, activating switches, swapping positions, and other actions. At its core, the goal is to have Arina deliver an orb of light to the peak of each level’s island. Naturally, obstacles impede the pair’s progress, and sometimes trial and error is necessary in order to figure out the necessary sequences to reach the goal.

Fortunately, the puzzle solving flow is incredibly organic and rewarding. The process of walking actually mirrors the flow of time. Pressing left causes the world and characters to rewind. However, depending on players’ actions, a puzzle cue can move on its own as the characters stay still. In other cases, the player has the opportunity to reverse the state of certain fallen objects. Being able to tweak the passage of time in order to help solve puzzles and move on different terrain is not only dynamic but incredibly fulfilling. The puzzles alleviate potential frustration and reward experimentation and observation, and it really fosters the joy of discovery. Every stage presents new assets that players must learn to manipulate, but the mechanics always make sense. Each protagonist activates different objects, and the way solutions come together is thoughtfully crafted.

The Gardens Between’s audiovisual elements establish an entrancing feeling of nostalgia and wonder. The game carefully traverses the line between the surreal and the familiar, and the protagonists’ surroundings can seem bizarre and mysterious. Each stage has a unique set of carefully positioned props. A lot of these props feel like common household objects, but their arrangement can feel mystifying. Another endearing aspect of the game is that characters will actually react to stage cues. At times Arina gestures and crosses her arms as she passes important elements, which creates the feeling that everything fits together naturally. In general, these areas feel lively and demonstrate a lot of care and attention. The characters’ vibrant cartoon-like rendering and the assets’ hand-painted textures also feel lovingly crafted. Much of the music further creates a dream-like feeling. The tunes are soothing lullabies full of soft sounds, which may entrance players as they traverse each area.

With its minimal control scheme and beautifully crafted audiovisual experience, The Gardens Between is well worth playing. The locales feel feels fresh and uniquely crafted, and the process of solving puzzles always feels intuitive. Arina and Frendt’s journey is full of wonder and intrigue, and the game will undoubtedly delight anyone remotely interested in puzzle games and emotional journeys.

Vincent Lai

Vincent Lai

I'm a gaming enthusiast who enjoys a variety of platforms! I also love wisps, rainbows, and gardens!

20out of 5
16out of 5
16out of 5
16out of 5


The Gardens Between is a wonderful journey full of entrancing sights and sounds. Its minimal control scheme and intriguing elements lead to a fulfilling puzzle solving experience.


4.25 out of 5

Tags assigned to this article:
Puzzle GamereviewsThe Gardens Betweenvideo games

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