GARDENARIUM: AS SPECIAL AS A TRUE MAGICAL MYSTERY TRIP
Let me take you down to Gardenarium fields, where nothing is real and hang about Gardenarium fields forever… Yes my friends, just as if this game was inspired by The Beatles or any other psychedelic melody from the 60’s, Gardenarium is a very original creation that is here to blow your mind away and take you to a colourful world that will distort your reality, all the while making you part of a magical mystery trip. Get ready to explore this unique world, to collect cans and to speak with strange and mysterious characters in order to restore the balance of the world.
A QUICK BACKGROUND INTRO
Before we get into the game and start unveiling everything to find within the lands of Gardenarium, I want to stop for a bit and tell you about its creators and how everything just worked out for them so that they could release this original idea. The game is the result of an alliance in between a video games development studio and a truly original artist based in Canada, you can see how original this result is and why it can be labeled as a unique experience, both while playing and while gazing at the art.
Paloma Dawkings is the artist behind the concept of Gardenarium and the first name to appear on the credits, as soon as I saw it I started my research on her just ending up in front of a super colourful and dynamic portfolio.
Based in Montreal Canada, Paloma works on her creations and has released a few comics of her own, her style is quite unique and must say that I have enjoyed her pieces. She also works a lot with bands and you can see her music influence. Thanks to her talent, she has worked for the National Film Board of Canada, Epic Meal Time, Paul Galvin, Booya Videos, Deadmau5 and Imogen Heap.
A very active and interesting portfolio no doubt and I’d recommend you take a look at it, all you need to do is to follow this link and it will take you straight into Paloma ́s world.
The potential within these creations was seen by a Montreal based studio called Ko-Op Mode, they were looking for special showed up and when saw Paloma’s work, they decided to get her working with them on the design for a game, something she digged, and that ́s how the project started.
All music in Gardenarium has been created by: Ylang Ylang and it gives you a good idea about this musician ́s tracks. I personally am very impressed by the soundtrack as it is consistent, original and always involving / evolving, very organic indeed. It feels like another being within the game.
Your mission is to get access to the Strange Depot, in order to do so you’ll need to pick up cans and garbage, so trees can grow back again over the land. It feels like a stroll in the mountains as a cleaner, but on LSD.
Cans float around and every time you pick up one up you will hear a sound, very similar to the effect when Mario picks coins. There is always a soundscape happening in Gardenarium, both the soundtrack and the effects feel just right, you can even close your eyes and just walk around just to hear the music changing shaping your experience, Gardenarium is very sensorial.
All NPCs that you encounter while venturing around the land have something to tell you, usually it’s some very strange dialogue or a deep messages that will aid you in your journey. One of the first characters you meet is a girl that tells you “You are on a quest to win”. Gardenarium is certainly a game that that likes to explore emotions such as hope, happiness, and even loneliness.
WELCOME TO THE LANDS OF GARDENARIUM
As soon as you start the game you can see that there are two main elements ruling the lands of Gardenarium, the psychedelic art and the music, both have a heavy weight on how the game is played as the landscape is a soundscape in itself and the music and sound will react to your every move. As soon as you start the game you take part in a very strange journey, which time, space and gravity are not a part of. For instance you will be walking upside down without even noticing when that change happened.
Jumping looks and feels like all of those videos showing astronauts on the moon, where every leap you take will suspend you on the air for a few seconds, time goes slower and you are placed into a dreamy like mood. Life in Gardenarium is just smooth and pleasant.
YOU ARE ON A QUEST TO WIN
The controls in Gardenarium are simple, all you need to use are the A,W,S,D keys to move around and your mouse to look around, the Space Bar will make you jump and E will allow you to speak with NPCs.
Gardenarium is a chilling adventure, taking place on a cloud in the sky. You begin as a stranger and struggle to gain access to the mysterious Depot by picking up trash and making the land grow.
I couldn´t let the chance pass by and grabbed a quick interview with Paloma Dawkins (the games artist), here is what she has to say.
Unt3Dmag: What ́s the main reason behind your decision to become an animator?
P.D.: I try to do everything with as much inspiration as possible, and that has always informed what projects I work on.
What ́s the message you want to deliver with your creations?
I try to cram many as many random esoteric messages into my works and visual reminders of the enormous complexity of nature in all its forms.
Please tell us, how did Ko Op Mode contact you?
I made a game really quickly once and wanted to show it at a Mount Royal Games Society meetup! Saleem from KO-OP approached me after the demo and asked if I had a project they could fund. That is when I told them about Gardenarium and they were eager to give me space to make it.
How was the experience working with them?
The experience was very different for me! I’ve never created that kind of environment before. I am used to doing something a bit messier, like in a printing studio or a jam space. I really enjoyed the cleaner healthier way of working, but I’d like to experience them together somehow one day.
Is creating art for a video game complicated or not that far away from creating art itself ?
I am fascinated by the medium and all its possibilities. I’ve never considered myself a gamer or video game enthusiast, so I don’t have any problems breaking gaming rules or whatever.
Did you get to work hand in hand with the development team?
I only working with Kyler on this game, we had previously worked together on an animation project and thought it would be really cool to make a video game together. Basically I’d just say, wouldn’t it be cool if you pick up a can, and plants grow everywhere? And he’d be like, it would be even cooler if they grow as you approach them! And I’m like, yes Kyler – you’re a genius.
How do you feel having a game in front of you based on your designs?
I really didn’t think it work out so well. It makes me so excited to try even more things! I’d like to see my games take other forms in the art world.
If you want to live through a completely different video gaming experience, I fully recommend Gardenarium. It might be a short title, but for your money you will get a true piece of art in all of your senses and it is a great way to support indie developers.
Until next time I leave you here with my open invitation to join a magical and mysterious world that will teach you a thing or two while you float around colourful lands and watch trees growing to beautiful sounds. Come save the land.
The game is very short but rewarding and you can pick it up for only $4.99 usd (via Paypal) on the Ko-Op Mode site:
You certainly won ́t regret it I can tell you.