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I mostly talk about video games and the world wide web

Jun122009

Blueberry Garden



At the surface Erik Svedäng's Blueberry Garden doesn't appear to be much. As far as games go, it's fairly stripped down. It comes across as a platformer, though one seemingly without a clear goal. the world is mostly white, with plants and random animals adding some color to the bleak world. Unlike a regular 2D platformer, however, your goal is not to move from left to right to get to the finish, but rather to explore and find out what your goal is.

The goal itself becomes fairly evident after your first playthrough which will almost certainly end with your demise. Find various large objects such as apples, pencils and top hats hanging around the world and stack them. Touching one of these objects (or standing next to it) will cause it (and yourself) to teleport to the stacking point. The higher your stack the more you can explore by jumping or flying over the game's geography. Some items are easy to collect; just walk over to them. Some take a bit of thinking to get to.

There first 'mission' of the game is to turn off a large faucet that is flooding the world. There's a water level to the entire thing and after a certain amount of time the water will begin to rise. Our player cannot survive underwater unaided for very long, so once the water raises above all the land (or your stack) the game sadly ends.

Helping you out during the game are various kinds of fruit. There are red berries of some sort, something resembling onions (though they grow on trees), some kind of star-shaped fruit and of course blueberries. Red berries and onions alter the terrain when you eat them. So the area you happen to be standing by can be warped by eating one. This adds an interesting element to the game since stacked items are positioned in the stack in the same position they are collected in. So if you have a pencil laying on its side it will appear that way in the stack, however if you tilt it 45 degrees by utilizing berries then it will appear in the stack tilted 45 degrees as well. Using this method it's possible to create a taller stack with fewer items.

The game's soundtrack, a simple, almost somber piano tune, adds immensely to the atmosphere of the game. Often kicking in when you leap from your stack and fly across the level, the sparseness of the world combined with the music is something of an experience. It's a very 'indie' experience that some may not notice or care for, but it made the game extremely relaxing and enjoyable for me.

At a meager five dollars on Steam (sorry non-Windows users, it's an XNA game), Blueberry Garden is certainly not a major purchase. Once you figure it out there's not much more to the gameplay (I have played it for a total of 1.7 hours according to Steam) but its mechanics are simple enough, and its atmosphere interesting enough that you may find yourself replaying it even after you've completed it.
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