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Game Info:

A HERO AND A GARDEN
Developed By: npckc
Published By: Ratalaika Games
Released: August 28, 2020
Available On: Google Play, Microsoft Store, PC, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One
Genre: Visual Novel
ESRB Rating: E
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $4.99, free on Google Play, PC

Thank you Ratalaika Games for sending us this game to review!

A HERO AND A GARDEN is developed by npckc and ported to the Xbox One, PS4, and Switch by Ratalaika Games. It is also available on the Google Play and Microsoft stores. It is a short but sweet game about a hero who tries to save a princess, only to find that she enjoys living in the tower. (The discovery of the princess not wanting to leave the tower isn't a spoiler, it's something that is stated almost as soon as the player enters the game.) I played this game on the Switch, so my experiences will focus on that particular version.

When the hero went to save the princess, he brought along a magic sword. He destroyed a town of monsters in his way in his attempt to bring her back to her kingdom, and upon finding out the hero’s crimes, the witch that lived in the tower sentenced him to a curse. He had to sell magical berries in order to help pay for the repairs of the town’s damages, and he could not leave until he was finished.

As the hero’s berry-selling career grows, the player meets a whole cast of monster characters, each with their own distinct personality and background. Each one requests a different kind of berry, and each one has their own reasons for doing so. Every character is portrayed as having some sort of flaw, which spices up their personality. Nobody is truly perfect. The story is mostly kinetic. There is only one opportunity for the player to make a choice, and it’s near the end, when they want to choose which character to attend a festival with (as friends).

A HERO AND A GARDEN
Highlights:

Strong Points: Strong characterization; charming art; great story; fitting music
Weak Points: Music is only a few tracks; takes a bit to wait for certain types of berries and there’s nothing the user can do to speed up the process; button layout for harvesting berries gets confusing fairly fast; only a few hours long
Moral Warnings: The word “sucks” is used once; protagonist admits to being gay; fantasy magic; mentions of violence

The story, characters, and setting are all very well thought out, which led to the creation of an excellent and engaging story. The conversations (and the characterization behind them) felt real and brought me into their world, and the wholesome message that it provided was the icing on the cake. The only gripe I have with A HERO AND A GARDEN is its length; it’s only a few hours long.

The graphics in A HERO AND A GARDEN are simple, but they’re extremely memorable and charming. The art style is absolutely adorable, and a lot of the cut scenes are presented in a manner similar to a storybook. The fonts used in the game’s interface fit extremely well with the game’s overall style, which is a very nice and thoughtful touch. I liked the drawings so much that they inspired me to try a simpler style in my own artistic endeavors.

The music is simple, but fitting. However, I did notice there were only a few tracks in the entirety of the game. There aren’t very many sound effects, but more of them aren’t really necessary. The only sound effects I can notably remember are the ones that play when the character harvests berries, which is a popping noise of some kind, and when someone is at the storefront of the berry-selling tower, which is a bell ringing. Neither of those examples are in any way particularly annoying, and they fit the tone and nature of the story.

The controls were fairly easy to grasp, but they were pretty confusing at times. I found myself pressing the wrong button to harvest the different types of berries. This happened despite the fact that it tells the player which button is associated with which berry, by showing the button to press right above the berry bush.

The garden UI is a little more complicated than I expected for a game of its kind. There’s a request list, a button that brings the player to the storefront when pressed (which is where most of the story happens, and is also the only place without the storybook frame cutscene style), and a list of things that the player needs to pay off in order to progress. On the left hand side, there is a small menu that tells the user how many of each kind of berry they currently have available. The orders menu has a list of orders that the player needs to fulfill, as well as a list of finished ones. The latter page has each order represented by the type of berry that it was for, and when the player no longer has to fulfill orders for a certain berry, it will say “OK!” at the end of the line of orders.

A HERO AND A GARDEN
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 89%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 10/10
Sound - 10/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls – 3.5/5

Morality Score - 82%
Violence – 8.5/10
Language - 8/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural – 8.5/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The UI caused me the most frustration, because I had to push the down arrow key to access the requests and the payoff options, and half the time, the button wouldn’t take. There were times I had to use the Switch’s touchscreen instead in order to be able to click on either of those particular things.

The process for harvesting berries in-game is somewhat tedious. The player has to wait for the berries to appear on the bushes, and there is nothing they can do to speed up the process. Each bush has a different length of time that the player has to wait for the berries to harvest, and when time progresses and the player has to manage five bushes at once, the confusing button layout and the varying times for each berry can become very frustrating for some. I wasn’t particularly affected by this frustration, but I was a little more patient with this game because it was overall very enjoyable for me.

However, there are a few moral issues that parents (Christian parents in particular) may want to take note of. The characters in-game say “sucks” around once or twice throughout the entirety of the story. It features plenty of fantasy magic, as it makes up the majority of the game’s world. However, said magic has no basis on actual occult practices. There is also the issue of the protagonist offhandedly mentioning that he is homosexual. It is honestly a shame that the creator decided to promote the progressive agenda, as that factor plays no other part in the progression of the story.

There are also several mentions of violence, which are the reason the protagonist is in the predicament that he’s in for the duration of the story. This violence is also the reason why one of the characters is motivated to buy berries from him, as her mother suffered from his choices.

Overall, I enjoyed A HERO AND A GARDEN a lot, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a short but wholesome play. However, if you are a Christian parent and plan on showing this game to a younger child, be prepared to teach them about the Christian view on homosexuality.

- Kittycathead

About the Author

Kaitlyn

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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