I'm always on the lookout for great indie games, and The Gardens Between has been on my list of games to check out for a while. I'm not sure where I first heard about it, but I got it on Switch eShop and this has turned out to be one of my favorite games of the year thus far. The game's setup becomes apparent soon after you start playing. You play as two characters, a young boy and a young girl, and rather than control them directly most of the time you're just rewinding or fastforwarding time so that they move along predetermined paths. In each stage your goal is to climb the stage to carry a glowing orb to a stand at the top, and your actions are quite limited. You can rewind or fastforward or stop time, and you can also have the boy ring chimes you come across to cause certain stage elements to change, and you can have the girl set down or pick up the bag that holds the orb. The game is all about figuring out the right order of actions to get past the various obstacles thrown in your way. On paper it sounds like the mechanics would be a little too simplistic, but the gameplay is very enjoyable and, like a visual novel, is about close observation and experimentation rather than fast reflexes.

The gorgeous graphics and sound design suffuse the game with an air of nostalgia and also melancholy that in themselves make the game much more memorable than most other indie games. Being able to set your own pace and take as much time as you need to solve each stage's puzzles add to the laidback nature of the game, and although the game is on the short side (a full playthrough shold take less than a few hours) and doesn't quite explore all the possibilities of the game's interesting mechanics, it's still a wholly satisfying experience and leaves you wanting more. I'm definitely not the only one eagerly looking forward to what The Voxel Agents come up with next.

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