Reviewing a game like Evergarden ($4.99) is a difficult thing to do for a couple of reasons. One of those is the fact that I just don’t want to ruin any of the little surprises, the little bits and pieces of delight that make Evergarden such a great little game. The other reason is that I feel like I have just scratched the game’s surface with so much more to come.
A few basics about the game before we move into the first of those two concerns.
For those unaware, Evergarden was created by the same people who brought us Race The Sun, a game that became something of a cult classic amongst a portion of the mobile gaming population. That respect was well deserved, and developer Flippfly is back again with a new game, this time based all around a garden, a forest, and a fox-like companion called Fen.
The aim of the game is almost indecipherable at first blush and is honestly the biggest knock I have against a game that I’ve enjoyed playing for this review. The on-boarding process is minimal, to say the least, and while I appreciate what the game is trying to do here, there were times where I just couldn’t instinctively work out what Evergarden wanted me to do in order to progress. However, once that all became clear, things started to really open up.
That progression comes when the gamer realizes that the aim of the game is to combine plants, or flowers depending on how you look at it, and then effectively use them in a giant game of flora Connect4. Yes, the number of flowers required in the sequence changes and yes, the layout of said flowers that is required in order to progress also alters depending on the challenge at hand, but you are essentially doing the same thing throughout. That is, you need to combine flowers in order to cultivate other flowers and then match them to a patter on the octagonal game board just the way Fen likes. It sounds fairly easy when you say it like that, but trust me, when you start to progress and as the space on the game board diminishes, things can get difficult. Fast.
This now brings me to the issue I mentioned earlier. To delve into the game any further in this review would do both you, the reader, and developer Flippfly a disservice. In truth, Evergarden is best experienced first hand and not via the (admittedly awesome) pages of this wonderful website. Words only serve to ruin the surprises that await and the little gems you will discover. I haven’t even mentioned the music, or the sounds used throughout the game as you combine flowers or even plant new ones. The whole thing sounds gorgeous and I suggest headphones are almost a requirement so as to get the best out of the aural experience.
For me, there is a line in the App Store description for this game that perfectly sums it up – “Evergarden may feel familiar at first, but you will discover it is like no game you have played before." That brings us to the second reason I mentioned way back in the first paragraph of this review. The game absolutely will feel familiar when you’re setting out, but as you progress through Evergarden you will experience something the likes of which I doubt you will have in your gaming life.
If you’re a mobile gamer, which you are because you’re reading this, and have a few dollars to spend on a game that will have you staring at your screen in wonderment without it being the usual shooter or racing game, then this is the game for you. Puzzle games lend themselves to mobile gaming particularly well, and Evergarden with its gorgeous color palette and subtle shading looks just beautiful on a modern iOS device. The game is calming yet addictive and one I don’t expect to stop playing any time soon, even after this review’s completion.
In a recent interview, the developers behind Evergarden shared that the game was created to honor their mother who sadly died in 2016. That somehow lends a poignant charm to the game, beyond the almost excessive charm it already possesses, and I’m sure she’d be proud.