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Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator screenshot

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator Review

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If you’re a fan of Animal Crossing, House Flipper or anything along a similar line, you’re probably going to get a kick out of Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator. Allowing you free reign of your own village garden, this new simulator from Stillalive Studios and Nacon is every bit as cosy as its name suggests, and we’ve had a blast cultivating flowers and seeing our beautiful seasonal garden bloom.

There are two ways to play Garden Life: you can jump into the story mode, where you’ll have missions to complete and a sense of progression as you play. Alternatively you can play creative mode, which simply lets you build a garden of your dreams without worrying about anything else.

We’ve spent most of our time in story mode, however, which has seen us growing certain flowers and gathering them up to meet villagers’ requests. A starting batch of seeds can be bought from the shop, but you’ll need to rely on generating seeds yourself — and eventually, creating new types of flowers. After some time, your red rose bush might generate a seed for orange roses, for example. Or your purple tulip plant might give you seeds for a red tulip plant.

It’s exciting at first, to have new seeds in your inventory and seeing your garden grown with new species within it. But when you’re vying for a particular type of flower, it can become rather tedious. There’s no way to control how and when you’ll get new seeds, so it’s simply a case of playing the waiting game. You might be lucky and get the seeds you’re hoping for straight away. Or you may be waiting days, even in-game weeks, until you get them.

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator screenshot
Image: Nacon

While you’re waiting, though, you can be working towards other missions, or simply decorating your garden. By selling seeds and flowers — or crafting them into bouquets — you can earn money at the local market square. You’ll want to, too, because with your money you can buy decorations for your garden. Within time, you’ll place pathways, gazebos, bird baths and more to make your garden space beautiful and idyllic.

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Of course, you’ll need to tend to your plants too in order to keep them healthy. You’ll need to water them, which you can do manually with a watering can or hose, or you can hook up a sprinkler system to keep them watered automatically. Forget for more than a couple of days, and you’ll find your plants can quickly die. You’ll also need to occasionally use bug spray to get rid of irksome flies, and you’ll need to pluck out the odd weed that sprouts through. You’ll whoop every time there’s a rainy day as it saves you watering plants yourself!

There’s one key problem, though: there’s a limit to how many flowers you can plant, and how much furniture you can have. We didn’t come anywhere near the furnishing limit, thankfully, but we quickly reached our flower limit with only about half of our final garden filled up. That meant we needed to dig up old flowers before planting new ones, and meant we couldn’t have as many plants as we’d have liked.

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator screenshot
Image: Nacon

Presumably the limit is there to ensure the game can keep running smoothly, but it’s annoying when it hinders gameplay and the supposed freedom of building your own garden. It’s still true, of course, but knowing you have a limit does spoil things a little.

Garden Life sports a rather cute and unique art style. It’s cartoon-like in some ways, with 2D characters and objects popping out of a 3D environment. The flowers and your garden itself is almost watercolour-like in its style, and it’s rather striking. Playing on PC (11th-gen i7, RTX 3070) we’ve had no problems with performance: it loads quickly and it runs perfectly. No complaints there.

While Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator’s longevity feels somewhat artificially expanded, as you’ll need to repeatedly wait for seeds to spawn randomly, we can’t lie: we’ve had a lovely time tending to our flowers and seeing our garden take shape. The story mode has a good sense of progression, and reaching the next goal or meeting a new character is always a cause for celebration. We wish there wasn’t a limit on how many plants we can have, though.

Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator Review – GameSpew’s Score

This review of Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator is based on the PC version of the game, via a code provided by the publisher. It’s available on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, Switch and PC.

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