As well as my philosophy for gardening, God Damn The Garden is an FPS that sort of breaks all the rules of what makes FPS games any good, and yet has me completely captured.
Here’s what I look for in a first-person shooter, whether it’s retro-styled like this one, or super-swishy GPU-burning modernity:
- incredible level design
- fun range of weapons
- quick save
- ever-changing enemies
GDTG offers precisely none of these in its opening couple of hours. In fact, despite the controls listing number keys for different weapons, after spending a morning with this, I’ve yet to find anything beyond the gun I started with. Its level design is absolutely definitely not incredible, being just a collection of corridors and chambers. There’s no sodding quick save, but rather save points, which is why I’m still so very early on in the game, and the enemies come up again and again. And I’m absolutely loving it.
That’s partly because I’m finding it so hard. And I have a soft spot for hard FPS games I’m no good at. Why? I dunno. Bad experiences in my childhood? An inability to love myself? It’s hard to say. But I’ve retried a sequence with giant wood hands falling from the sky so many bloody times today, and I’m stopping to write about the game only because I need a break from retrying.
Rather splendidly, it’s not the only point I’m stuck at. The game allows you to disappear off in a range of directions, meet insurmountable challenges, then retrace your steps and try another route. There’s a boss I’ve met (George, The Majestic Undead Male Spider King) that obliterates me with a glance, making feel sure I need to progress elsewhere first. In fact, an enormously fat and helpful wildcat-thing tipped me off that it’d likely be too hard if I persisted in that direction.
Talking of which, I’ve also had advice from a Smart Fox, and a small yellow duck with the unfortunate name of Nameless Crap. The latter told me a story about a rabbit called James. In each encounter, I’ve had the option to kill them instead of chat, but a lifetime of gaming has taught me you never indiscriminately kill furry wildlife, so I’ve yet to see the consequences of that.
The game is quite mad. One particularly tough enemy appears to be a floating t-shirt with a skull on the front. There are the aforementioned hands that try to splat you from above. While there are so many sodding spiders, there are also overly cute little beasties that merrily bob toward you with only murder behind their over-sized eyes.
Yeah, I’m hooked. It’s just bubbling with energy and fun, and it turns out that quite usefully replaces the list of essentials you might usually associate with the genre. And it’s only now, because I’m so asleep, have I noticed this is created by a developer whose work I’ve featured on BT before: Agelvik. I found GDTG on Itch, as something released in the last month, but it turns out it came out on Steam in 2021, so now I’m all confused. But it obviously matters not, since fun is fun is fun. And it’s only £4/$5 wherever you pick it up.
I love how odd this is, without feeling “wacky”. And I love that I keep trying, making it a bit further, failing in a way that’s entirely my fault, swearing at the screen as if it weren’t my fault, then making it a bit further the next time.