The Gardens Between by The Voxel Agents just came out on September 20th. And already it is one of the most visually stunning and heartwarming games I’ve seen this year. The world is this beautifully twisted surrealist map with puzzles to navigate in this serene atmosphere. All while the story is heart wrenching and sweetly emotional. We follow two best friends in the garden islands as they find relics of their friendship. The story reminds you of nostalgia and also the changes of friendship from childhood in this perfect bittersweet way. I had the chance to contact the developer team for this game and ask a few questions about it. Henrik Pettersson, the Game Director and Designer for the game answered. Check out the interview below.
What was the inspiration for The Gardens Between?
It all started from the mechanic which was inspired from the timeline interface Tom Cruise uses in Minority Report. For the story, we wanted to involve fantastical elements and looked at the Voyage and Return narrative archetype (Alice In Wonderland, Pan’s Labyrinth, Coraline).
The art takes inspiration from contemporary illustration and Japanese garden layouts. For the music we wanted something beautifully melancholic: We listen to a lot of Icelandic composers and ambient music.
The game looks like a lot of fun, especially for anyone who loves puzzle solving. Can you describe the gameplay a little more?
I’ll do my best. In The Gardens Between you don’t move the character; instead you move time. There are actually several timelines overlapping, tying the spaces into a knot, that the player has to unravel in order to carry a vessel of light to the peak.
It was a real pain to design, but it makes sense when you play it, and it feels really intuitive.
What do you hope players get out of playing The Gardens Between?
The Gardens Between is a story told without text or spoken dialogue; instead, it’s told through the visuals and audio. Games like Journey and Inside have done it before, but our story is grounded in the experiences and memories from the development team, and we hope that base will create a close connection with the players and a story that resonates.
What was your favorite part of working on this game?
Early day concepting is always a happy time. Ideas are big and visions are soaring. Then it’s important that one can also find satisfaction in the grunt work. For me, that’s the design of puzzles.
What’s next for The Voxel Agents? Are you working on anything else?
Hard to say at the moment, I think the whole team is going to take a bit of a break. The Gardens Between has been in development for four and a half years, and after working on a contemplative game for so long time I have a desire to do the complete opposite next. Maybe a Clicker set to dubstep or screamcore. We’ll see. 🙂