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Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Playrix Entertainment
Developer: Playrix Entertainment
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle/ Arcade

Graphics & Sound:

Gardenscapes is a delightful hidden object game with pleasant music, sound effects and visuals. The game takes place in and around an old mansion that your grandfather left to you, one that once had a marvelous and grand garden that has since fallen into ruin. It's up to you to restore the garden to its once former glory.

There are 15 rooms that you will be working in, plus the garden that you'll be restoring. The rooms vary from a pantry, to the veranda, the garage, a child's room, a bathroom, an attic and many more. Each room is full of neat little details, plus tons of hidden objects, since that's the main thrust of the game. All of the objects and the rooms you'll find them in are nicely modeled and easy to distinguish, although not always easy to find! Additionally, the decor in the rooms is very attractive and I grew to have favorite rooms, among them the Blue Hall and the Oriental Room.

The sound effects are very pleasing as well, from the chink of your money being collected, to the click when you have located the correct object, even down to the sounds of birds in a cage somewhere in the background or a distant phone ringing. Everything just sounds right and is very immersive.

The music is another facet of Gardenscapes that gets really high marks. In the background of each of the different rooms, you'll hear a delightful tune that will range from jazzy to mischievous to quaint and classical. When you are in the garden, you'll hear an upbeat tune, along with birds chirping, the water bubbling in your fountain and the occasional dog bark from your trusted canine friend (which you can name whatever you want).


Gardenscapes all begins when you receive a letter from your dearly departed grandfather's butler, Austin. It seems your grandfather has bequeathed to you a creaky old mansion filled with junk. Once you get there, you find that the house once had a marvelous garden and Austin sets upon you to restore it. It doesn't help that he is hellbent on entering the garden into the local contest for the best garden. His idea is to have a "jumble sale" with everything lying around the house and thus begins your quest.

When you first begin, you'll see the house in the background with 15 rooms, all covered up by curtains or doors until you open them up. Once they've all been opened, you'll revisit them time and again to sell items. Once you begin a level, you'll see a list with 5 people on the left, along with the object they are seeking and the amount they want to pay for it. If you can quickly locate and click on the object, you'll get the maximum amount of money for it, however their patience wanes the longer it takes for you to find the object and along with it, the money will decrease. You can also spot golden coins scattered around the room for extra money.

There's also a hint system built in. If you select a hint, the objects the people are seeking will be pictures instead of words, to help you find them easier. But your hints are limited, so use them wisely. Also hidden about the room are extra hints in the form of question marks (which simply add one to your total number of available hints), hidden thermometers of different shapes and sizes (which will tell you whether you are hot or cold on the 5 items on your list) and finally a camera, which will take a "photo" of the room and drop away all but the 5 items you are looking for at the time - but it only lasts a split second.

Once you locate an item, the shopper leaves and a pile of coins is in his/her place. Click on the coins and a new shopper appears with a new request, for a total of 20 shoppers for each room. Once you have completed the room, you'll go back to the garden and speak to Austin. In between leverls, from time to time you will get letters from various people. Some folks are seeking a run of particular objects, like 20 teapots or 20 pearls, for example. If you happen to not notice the letter bouncing in the top right corner, and jump into another jumble sale, you'll miss the opportunity to just go into one room and click rapidly on all of the objects of one type. This is a fast way to make a lot of money because you earn extra points for any hints you don't use and for your speed - and its pretty easy to collect 20 of one object in the same room. Never fear, however, becuase you will still get the chance to find the objects, 20 of which will be scattered throughout the next few rooms you go into. But its much more tedious this way.

At times, you'll get letters from either the newspaper wanting to do an article on the garden restoration or one from the Garden Club lady telling you what you still need to buy or restore before you can have a chance at entering or winning the garden competition. In order to win, you'll have to resore the whole garden, though, so it really doesn't matter the order in which you do it.

You'll need to repath the lawn, buy fruit trees and pergolas, a bridge, a fountain, a pond, repaint the house, everything you can imagine. But once you are done, you'll be graced with a beautiful, prize-winning garden.


Anyone who has played hidden object games will have no problems here. Gardenscapes doesn't have a difficulty level, per se. You can choose to play in Relaxed Mode or Against the Clock, which is obviously a bit more challenge. Some of the items are hidden in a very tricky manner, but if any of you have cursed hidden object games that just hide items in stupid and nonsensical ways, this game is not like that at all. All of the items are nicely concealed, but never in such a tricky manner that you feel cheated. Also, the generous hint system will definitely help you out in a pinch.

You will feel pressured to hurry up and make money to buy particular upgrades as Austin or other people suggest, but truly, this is one of the most relaxing games you can play, despite the Against the Clock aspect of it.

Game Mechanics:

Everything in Gardenscapes is based on mouse clicks, whether it is selecting your objects to sell, choosing a hint or even upgrading your garden. When purchasing your upgrades, you will always have a choice of three different styles for whatever item you are buying, with three different prices. Sadly, the new facade on your house was one that you could barely see, because it was mostly covered up by the HUD that would slip into place, but I loved seeing my strawberry pink house for the few seconds I could.

At any time, you can also go into the Design Mode and change around what you have already purchased and upgraded. Say you bought the cheapest pond you could, just to progress the storyline, but now you wish you could go back and have the Japanese pond. Well, you can always go back and modify your upgrades, paying only the difference between your original purchase and the upgrade.

Overall, Gardenscapes is an extremely well done hidden object game that any fan of this type of game would enjoy. If you aren't sure, try it out online. But its very addictive and I'm sure you'll want access to the entire game. I've long since beaten it and am still playing.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

Minimum System Requirements:

OS: Windows NT, 2000, XP or Vista; CPU: 1 GHz; RAM: 512MB; DirectX: 8.0 or higher; Video: 128MB

Test System:

Windows Vista, 2 GHz AMD Phenom 9500 Quad-Core Processor, 8GB RAM, Realtek High Definition Audio On-Board Sound, NVIDIA GeForce 8300

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