Let’s talk idle clickers. Or rather, let’s not and say we did, as I find most to be monotonous at best. But when Sprout: Idle Garden (Free) was announced, I took note. An idle clicker based entirely in a garden, with charming isometric graphics? I was already yearning for the game to be released. So let’s talk about this one idle clicker instead, shall we?
Sprout: Idle Garden is easily one of the most versatile idle-clicker titles when it comes to gameplay: you decide if you want to be a blooming tycoon or a community flower garden… or anything else you come up with! I’ve literally stayed up at night at least twice trying to decide what to do next. Right now my setup is long and linear, but my plans include homes with back gardens and a purple paradise. It’s the only idle clicker I’ve found that is worth giving your time for more than a day or two. For whatever reason, it feels like a combination of the idle clicker genre and Pocket City (which I love for so many reasons, and Oliver echoes my sentiments in his review of it) with a dash of Valleys Between sprinkled on for good measure.
The end goal is to earn as much cash in the game as you can, so most of the gameplay is focused around that concept. Find your idle earnings and current cash in the upper right corner. To make the most money, you need the best flowers, which means you need to level up to get them. Your garden increases in level with each new flower blooming; there are currently 30 levels available. Each level unlocks one new flower – this is what you grow to move on to the next level – and a variety of other items, including ground tiles, planters, plants, houses, and miscellaneous garden decorations. These items are worth a bit of a deep dive to understand the mechanics of the game.
Ground tiles have different uses. For example, paths are used for gardeners to travel but you need grass or dirt to hold planters or plants. The planters, as the game states, “seems to be a good place to plant a flower!" Each costs slightly more than the last and look different, but function the same. The difference is purely aesthetic. Planters are imperative to the game, as they contain the cash cow: your beautiful blooms!
Houses home gardeners, who collect flowers so you don’t have to. This is one aspect where it feels a bit like something is missing, because my logic says bigger house equals more people but the small and large house both give a single gardener. I would like to customize the look of my gardeners… they’re practically begging for little wide-brimmed sunhats!
Plants increase the idle value of all flowers. There are different varieties, but they all do the same thing. There are a few miscellaneous items available for your garden: a phonograph adds music, coffee stations speed up your gardeners, and lamps and fountains alter surrounding plants in a positive way. When you build something – anything, really – it costs money. When you erase it, you get that money back. It’s a beautifully balanced system that is rare across all genres.
Once planted, flowers can be individually upgraded to level 50 with a familiar idle clicker mechanic, by selecting whether to purchase 1, 5, or 10 levels per click (a max option would be nice but isn’t missed since the max level is reached within a few clicks anyway) and clicking away. Flowers are easily identifiable, as each is represented with remarkable accuracy. Click a flower to earn its money, or a gardener can collect both for you. There is also a base idle amount consistently being earned by your flowers, so keep them leveled up!
There are 43 goals, most of which related to leveling up and purchasing specific items. One goal is available at a time. I would love for future updates to includes different types of goals versus doing one thing, like plant and fully upgrade 50 bluebells.
There’s a delicate balancing act between number of gardeners versus number of flowers. This adds a surprising level of strategy to the game, and what you choose to do will likely be dictated by your green-thumbed motivations. The touch, hold, move mechanic feels very organic. And the clicking, well, it’s a clicker, and you’re going to be clicking little digital flowers for days!
It’s now time to approach the ever-feared topic of in-game ads. We’ve all seen them done poorly, when a game throws a 30-second video ad at you whenever it pleases (which is always way too often). Look no further than Sprout: Idle Garden to see in-game advertising done the right way. There are reasonable opt-in video advertisements that let you choose when to watch instead of popping up intermittently. And that’s it.
Watch ads to earn:
- 3x your idle amount after being away for awhile
- Flower Party: Refreshes every five minutes. It’s like whack-a-mole with flowers, where you tap as many flowers that appear on the screen as you can in 30 seconds to earn money.
- Wheel of Flowers: Refreshes every five minutes. There are actually two wheels, one on top of the other. One spins the top three flowers available, and the other spins a multiplier. The results determine how much cash goes into your bank.
- Insta-Grow: Refreshes every thirty minutes. Grow all your flowers now!
I do find that the game is especially mean to my already-suffering battery and made my phone quite warm, but a quick check next to the battery saver option available in the main menu almost completely solved both problems. I thought it was the ads, but apparently the frame rate is what was zapping my battery life!
Sprout: Idle Garden is fun and casual rather than all-consuming. Yes, I want to get that next flower that seems unobtainable… but I also want to do a complete redesign, so maybe that takes precedence. Or I want to stay away from my phone all day to spend time with family, and return to a boatload of cash and an option to triple it for watching an ad: score! As an added bonus, the game has an active Discord community! With 600+ members, the community (which is linked to in-game) is quite active which absolutely has an impact on the game experience as a whole. You can share garden screenshots, ask questions, and just chat with fans of the game. And I promise to stop lurking once I can be torn away from the game itself!