Blueberry Garden is a game about curiosity. It's a game about exploring your environment and playing with objects just to see what they do. The game's world, though stark in appearance, is vibrant and alive, with a thriving ecosystem of plants and creatures that interact with each other and change over time. From the moment you step foot in this garden, all you want to do is walk around and see what you can see. Too bad someone left a giant faucet running and everything's flooding with water!
Winner of the Seumas McNally Grand Prize in the 2009 Independent Games Festival, Erik Svedäng's Blueberry Garden is a rare gem of a game. The moment you start playing, you'll feel like you're in a world without borders. Structured like a 2D platformer, your beaked character can, at first, walk, jump, pick up objects, teleport home, and fly for a short period of time. When holding pieces of fruit in your hands, tap [enter] to eat them, granting you a new power for a brief time.
"Wait. What's this? New powers? What powers. Tell me the powers!" You might say. Well, no, dear reader, we will not tell you the powers, nor will we tell you what's going on when you stand near those big objects and are teleported back to the beginning. Want to know why? Because that's what makes Blueberry Garden so much fun. Apart from teaching the basic controls via signposts, the game leaves you to your own devices to figure out what you can do. No tutorials smacking you over the head explaining how to navigate a menu screen. Just pure and blissful exploration of a game's mechanics, something very few releases in the last few years seem to get right.
The goal of the game (other than to explore and have fun) is to plug the leaky faucet and stop the garden from filling with water. Even though there's an objective, you don't necessarily feel pressured to complete it. At least, not at first. The game's gentle structure only becomes important once you've played around in the world long enough to want something to do. After you've jumped and flown around for a bit, watched the birds, eaten a few fruits, and gotten caught in thorns, you'll feel ready to accomplish something.
Analysis: Blueberry Garden is as glorious as it is unassuming. Not many people would pay attention to a platformer with very little purpose to its gameplay, fuzzy hit detection and physics, and a world colored so flat and gray. But that's exactly why it's unique, and the lack of detail leaves room for your imagination to fill in the gaps.
If you're in this to win, you'll be saddened to know that Blueberry Garden will only take you a few hours to complete. It's not about reaching "the end", of course, but the wonder-filled journey leading up to that point. You're free to take your time playing with the fruits in the garden for as long as you like. The latest version of the game even includes a Playground mode which allows you to drop fruits and animals into a blank level to see how they interact.
Blueberry Garden is a one-of-a-kind experience and a star of the indie gaming community. It preserves some of gaming's most cherished elements — exploration, creativity, and discovery — and does so with a subtle artistic style we so rarely see in games today.