iPad Game Review: Gardenscapes HD for iPad Reviewed by Tom Slayton
Gardenscapes HD is, at its heart, a hidden object game. However, it sets itself apart by requiring you to renovate a garden with the money you make from finding objects hidden throughout an old house.
Gardenscapes HD is another solid entrant to the Hidden Object genre from Playrix. Your primary task is to renovate the garden of an old house to its former glory. There are myriad upgrades and enhancements, all of which are financed by selling an eye-popping amount of junk piled into every room of the house. Every time you tap the Play button, you will be whisked away to a pre-determined room where you will be confronted by an ever updating row of eager shoppers who are looking for very specific items. Every time you find an item, you are rewarded with a certain amount of money. This amount goes down if you take excessively long to find the requested object, however the initial time limit is quite generous and the judicious use of hints will get you out of most tight spots. You are, however, given a limited amount of time to complete each screen. The good news is, the timer can be disabled, making this game either a frantic tapfest or a relaxing object search, depending on your preference.
The mood is light and playful, and the game is completely appropriate for kids. Unfortunately, the objects you seek are only described verbally unless you use one of your limited hints. This means that unless you have a 7-year old who knows what a Hookah Pipe is, for example, expect to be playing this one along with your youngsters, or at least nearby. While this limits the accessibility for very young players, it is also an excellent and sneaky way to incorporate some reading and vocabulary into your kids' gaming.
In addition to hints, which you collect by finding question marks (?) in gameplay, there are also stacks of gold coins to be tapped, and cameras, which will flash the screen white except for all of the objects you are currently seeking. Lastly, the sheer overwhelming variety of objects to be found means that no two games are the same, although the objects themselves will start to become familiar to you as they pop up throughout the game.
The graphics of Gardenscapes HD are typical Playrix: EXCELLENT! The garden, in particular, is extremely enjoyable to renovate as each upgrade provides a significant graphical improvement. The end result is not only satisfying, but serves to motivate you to return time and again to that very cluttered house. Each room is comprised of beautiful high resolution images, although you are not given the ability to zoom in to help you search, which was a bit of a disappointment. Once found, objects spin and swoosh across the screen, landing next to the eager buyer, who then neatly slides out of sight and leaves a tidy pile of gold coins for you to collect. The rooms and objects are lightly animated and beautifully lit, further adding to the overall pleasant gameplay experience.
The music is light and playful, and has a very high-quality sound to it. The fact that I left it enabled while I played is as good of a recommendation as I can make, as I almost always turn in-game music way down or completely off. The sound effects are also pleasant, and well-sampled. Chirping birds, the sound of your dog barking (yes, you get a dog) as he runs around the garden, etc, all come together nicely to make the audio portion of Gardenscapes HD a treat.
If you enjoy hidden object games, Gardenscapes HD is a very solid offering. I found the whole "renovate the garden" aspect of the game to be surprisingly enjoyable as well as motivating, and the object searches to be well implemented. Highly recommended for fans of the genre.
Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):
Graphics: - 5 - Typical high-quality Playrix graphics add a thick layer of polish to a solid game. Sound: - 5 - Enjoyable music, and non-repetitive, subtle effects. Controls: - 5 - The touch interface is accurate, responsive, and intuitive. Gameplay: - 5 - Tried and true hidden object gameplay married to a garden renovation game. If either of these sounds like fun, you're in for a treat.
Playing Hints and Tips:
Try not to use hints as unused ones will mean more money at the end of the level. Be sure to look for those shiny gold coins, question marks, and cameras as you hunt through your eclectic rooms of beautiful junk. If you don't like a particular style of garden renovation, you can change it to something else while in Design Mode.
Developer: Playrix Release Date: November 17, 2011 Price: Free to download with a $4.99 IAP to unlock the full game. Buy App: Gardenscapes HD