Up & Coming: Garden Life

By: Cody Musser

In the social game space it is possible to start playing something and become engaged in a title that lies well outside your natural scope of interest. Farmville isn’t for farmers, and obviously Mafia Wars isn’t for the mafia alone. On occasion though, something is really outside ones realm of interest. Garden Life from LOLApps is such a game for me. I don’t tend to a garden, I have no interest in gardening, and I find it to be a pretty absurd pastime. Yet, here on Facebook, I strangely tend my garden with care and meticulous precision.

Garden Life makes the player’s backyard their primary concern, and they start you off much like a real garden would – with a scant patch of dirt. Players will till the soil and plant some strawberries to get their garden underway. After some leveling, you’ll expand your space and gain access to more garden plants. They range from flowers to fruits and vegetables and get pretty exotic. Luckily, in Garden Life, climate doesn’t enter into the equation, so pineapples can grow right beside pumpkins.

Plants wither if not harvested in time, just like in similar games, but Garden Life leaves the player a good window to visit their backyard again and collect their foliage. Their friends can visit the garden as well, and water a few plants each to keep them from withering or bring them back to life. Friends will also fertilize your soil and offer you a pot of gold if you’re willing to visit their garden each day. Gifts can also be given back and forth.

Where the social aspect of other games can feel occasionally tacked on, in Garden Life visiting other gardens to gain loot and experience seems mandatory. The progress in Garden Life is paced very conservatively and every little bit helps. I found myself scouring other gardens for the 100 coins I would receive for clicking on a sneaky gopher as it popped out of the ground (protip: It seems if you miss the gopher while he’s out, you’ll get far less coins for the effort. Wait for him to pop back up and make the nab).

In due time if you’re active in visiting other gardens (and maybe adding a few friends who already have some), then you’ll start receiving enough gifts and have access to enough gold coins each day to trick out your garden far beyond what you’d think possible. A number of ornaments and objects will lend some color to your space, with additions like walkways, furniture, decks, and even tweaks for your house filling out your possible customization choices. High level players gain access to items that mimic a Japanese zen garden, including the pricey but undeniably awesome samurai garden gnome.

It does seem to us though, that the overall progress is a bit too slow. The balance of profits received from gardening itself to the cost of additional plants seems to be off the scale. In some cases, purchasing a series of plants and then harvesting them, after paying for the plants and to till the soil, will net you one coin a plant. That hurts when something like a stone costs 125 coins. Ouch. It throws off the gameplay a bit and makes each friend you have more valuable than the time in your garden. Some tweaking is probably in order.

Garden Life has been holding down near 1.5 million users solidly for a while now, so it’s definitely a force to be considered for a title that is still listed as being in beta. The game is already monetized with a gem system that can be purchased with Facebook credits among other means. Players strangely never get gems from any other facet of gameplay though, and some items can only be purchased using them – another small issue that raises an eyebrow on this side of the garden’s fence. Putting that aside, this is still a game that will have you making friend and planting like mad, so enjoy the well-spent time with your trowel, and somebody send us a samurai garden gnome when you can – we need one!

Play Garden Life now!

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