Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to Riches
Straight from Nitreal Games comes a spring-rific take on the building time management genre in Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to Riches. Play as a young college graduate intent on helping her grandparents keep their villa from the clutches of the local evil entrepreneur. (How they've come to owe him $1,000,000, you're never quite sure.) As Jill, you've got a hearty green thumb and an eye for detail, which is just what the town needs. Water logged pathways, overgrown weeds, burglars and ravens! Nothing can stop you from fighting back, not to mentioned how great it is to just spruce up your grandparent's abode with the extra money you earn. Can you do it? Can you save them from being evicted and living out the rest of their lives in a cardboard box?!
Gardens Inc. has the same mechanics as similar games, like the Roads of Rome series. Direct Jill and the other workers by clicking on tasks, which will be completed in the order they were assigned. Keep in mind accessibility, such as islands which have a limit to how many boats can dock there. Hovering over a task will show you the list of resources needed to complete it, though if you're in a hurry, simply clicking the task anyway will display a discreet message letting you know what resource you're missing. As variety in the gameplay, between levels you're offered a little extra treat of rebuilding your grandparents' villa practically one brick at a time. Just more incentive to not just go for the gold, but the secret 'better than developer's record' prize! (Hint: it's more coins.)
Analysis: Nitreal Games has done a fantastic job creating an experience that will delight fans of the time management/simulation genre. The graphics are colorful and pleasing, just as you would expect from a gardening game. The addition of being able to renovate the villa is not only a satisfying sidequest of sorts, but is also great incentive to go back and earn a gold time for all the levels... just in case your natural compulsiveness didn't already have you doing this. Not to mention that along with the usual list of tasks to complete, there is also a puzzle goal which, if you can decipher, will earn you extra coins. This makes the selection of plants all the more exciting!
As great of a first showing as Gardens Inc.: From Rakes to Riches is for Nitreal Games, it is still a first showing, so there are a few issues. The hotspots for some of the items can be hard to determine(ahem, flock of seagulls... err, ravens) or get on the first try, as is the case with tasks that are not stationary. And the storyline, while not terrible, is boring and uninspired. These are, honestly, rather minor quibbles and certainly not something to hold you back from playing a game that can offer a whole afternoon's distraction. Maybe it's time you played in some dirt... without actually getting dirty or having that annoying sun in your eyes!