Gardenscapes HD in Review – Second Time’s Still A Charm

Not too long ago when my mom was really into playing games on her computer she’d often tell me how she was finishing a game for the second or third time.  I never really got that, because between beta testing and reviewing I’m lucky if I get through a game once, let alone multiple times.  There are rare occasions where I get caught up in something I know I shouldn’t, though, and such is the case with Gardenscapes HD.  I’ve already finished the game on my PC, yet I find myself almost to the end of it on my iPad now.  It’s possible that I’ve even enjoyed it more this time around as well.

The basic premise behind the game is that you must restore the garden of a mansion to its former glory in order to win a contest held by a snooty club.  It turns out the best way to do this is to sell as much as you can find inside of the house.  I love it how seamlessly the hidden object game paradigm fits into some situations.  Of course, there are a couple of things about the whole setup that are rather silly.  Why come to this sale and spend $20 for a used outlet cover?  And how have I managed to sell the same bird’s nest in the attic 5 times?

Anyway, the basic routine is to hunt through a room to find the objects that 20 customers want.  If a customer wants more than one thing and you find them all rapidly you get a bonus.  You also get a bonus simply for finding multiple items rapidly.  You can have up to five hints at once, and any unused hint gives you a bonus.  There’s also a bonus for not running out of time (assuming you’re playing timed mode).  Occasionally someone will ask you for a certain object and you’ll just need to find 20 of that object in a room with no other customers.  Or, you might have to search for 20 of a given object across multiple rooms while still finding things for other customers.  There are lots of ways to earn money, but you’ll certainly need them all.

As you’re gathering all of this money you’ll need to make upgrades to your garden.  Each item in the garden that can be upgraded has three levels of upgrade, and you can always start with the lowest and upgrade to a better option later when you’ve earned more money.  The key is that everything that can be upgraded must be upgraded at least one level in order to win the game.  Of course, even in timed mode you’ll always have enough of a chance to get everything, which is a bit anti-climactic, but at least you won’t ever feel like you’ve wasted a bunch of time just to lose the game.

Everything about Gardenscapes looks great.  The rooms are filled with details and do a good job of concealing the objects, yet it’s usually not too difficult to pick out the wanted items.  The different characters look cool, and the butler is a lot of fun.  He kind of reminds me of Alfred from the Batman mythos.  Of course, the best part of it all is watching the garden morph as you apply upgrade after upgrade.  It’s also fun to watch Austin and the dog walk around and keep themselves busy.

The sound effects are decent enough.  There are distinct noises for finding items as well as tapping in the wrong spot, and there are various atmospheric sounds depending on which room you are in.  The butler never speaks, but he does occasionally grunt and groan his approval for things.  The music is actually quite well done.  I don’t think there is a theme for each room as there are a number of different rooms, but there is certainly a decent selection of tunes that are played throughout your stay at the mansion.

From a hidden object perspective Gardenscapes HD doesn’t necessarily offer anything new, though the setup is a bit different than many of its kind.  There’s something about the idea of collecting money and building up the garden that just makes the game intriguing to me.  The locales are varied, the objects are well hidden but not hair pulling to find, and it’s been just as much fun for me to play the second time through.  You can’t really ask for much more out of a game.

Note: A free version of Gardenscapes HD is available as well on the App Store, where the full version of the game can be unlocked from within the app.

Kiss It Rating - 5/5

App Summary
Title: Gardenscapes HD (Premium)Developer: Playrix
Reviewed Ver:Min OS Req:3.2
Price:$4.99App Size:
  • Great mix of hidden object and garden building
  • Cool butler
  • Wonderful visuals
  • Awesome music
  • A bit anti-climactic because you can’t loose

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