Releasing on the heels of both Gnomes Garden 2 and Gnomes Garden, Gnomes Garden 2 is now upon us. Yes, they really did release in that order. Though, to be fair, the story on show doesn’t really do much to entice interest, so perhaps we can give the series’ order of release a pass. Mark took on the review of the former games, whereas I decided to take a poke at this one. Honestly, after reading Mark’s reviews and playing Gnomes Garden 2, I can safely say that there isn’t much difference, save that the plot is equally as weak as it is elsewhere.
In a nutshell, Gnomes Garden 2 is forty nine levels of simplistic resource management. The story centers around the kidnap of the princess, whisked away by the evil queen of trolls. In these lands, no one knows the power of the magical gardens, and as such, you’re tasked with aiding the gnomish people that have long suffered under the queen’s rule. That’s the backbone of the game’s premise, and believe me, it doesn’t get any more interesting than that. The same can arguably be said about the core gameplay loop that you’re subject to.
Seriously, the game couldn’t be any easier if it tried; unless it played itself for you. You simply cannot lose in Gnomes Garden 2. Really, you just cant lose. Sure, you may lose out on some star ranks, but outside of that, the game practically gives you the correct route level in and level out. There’s no death, no gameover, nothing. In fact the only way you can lose here is by turning the game off, but for those that enjoy more of a challenge from their resource management titles, that may not be seen as losing. Overly harsh? No, not really.
You see, I fully appreciate that there’s a group of players out there that relish this sort of game, and for them, Gnomes Garden 2 achieves much of what it sets out to accomplish. Though, with that in mind and taking the game’s overly simplistic nature into account, it fails as far as complexity is concerned; often considered as a staple for the formula at hand. The bottom line? If you’re looking for a casual game of this sort, you’re likely not going to be disappointed. If, however, you want more meat on the bones of your games, look elsewhere.
Much like the game’s immediate successor and its immediate predecessor, you’ll move through each level, pointing and clicking until you’ve met the level’s requirements. You take control of a cursor, rather than any direct control over a character. Using said cursor, you’ll click on resources to farm them, and then put these resources to use elsewhere. There’s a staggering total of four resources to keep on top of; wood, stone, food and pink crystal. Each level will set you with objectives on what you need to accomplish using these items.
Your gathered resources are tracked at the top of the screen, whereas your checklist is situated at the bottom. There’s a star chart to the left of the screen that behaves exactly like it does in the other Gnomes Garden games, being that you’re rewarded with up three stars based on swift completion per-level. You’ll begin each level in exactly the same fashion. You start in a hut and must fulfill the requirements via pointing and clicking to gather resources, to then spending them resources on a mixture of structures, workers and broken objects.
As before, you’re able to spend resources on creating mills and mines. This will present you with a never ending income of each resource, which is at times necessary later on in the game. Outside of that, you’ll find your initial resources by sending your worker to retrieve them from the pathway of each level. Like I said before, there’s no way to lose here. If you cant repair a broken bridge or erect a structure, there will always be something you can do to work around it. To the game’s discredit, it only makes for a very hand-holding experience.
You can indeed upgrade whichever mill or mine that you have built in return for more resource, but you’ll need to collect its goods before you can get any more from it. The same can be said about other structures in the game, such as the worker’s hut or the sorcerer’s house. Upgrading these will give you more helpers and aid, but again, the game is developed in such a way that you’ll only be guided into doing this anyway. You’ll repeat this same tedious process until you hit the end-game, with very little deviation throughout.
In favor of the game, I have to commend it for being accessible and easy to understand. Players of all ages will be able to run this through with no problem at all. It’s just a shame that there’s next to no difficulty within. Despite the fact that the game’s tasks get more outlandish as progression is made, you cant help but feel like Gnomes Garden 2 is too involved with itself for its own good. It would have been nice to see some dead ends or a level-restarting timer, but as it stands, there’s no overlooking its very auto-pilot design.
Whether you’re stocking up a farm, repairing a bridge, restoring a tree, or even paving over a bog, the game plays the same and as a result, becomes too repetitive too quickly. I don’t have much to say about the game’s visual and audio design. Whilst I did quite enjoy the colorful and varying locations, Gnomes Garden 2 looks and sounds like a basic, run of the mill Facebook game. Make of that what you will. Still, if you enjoyed the other two games that are readily available on the Xbox Store, you’ll likely enjoy what’s on offer here.
Gnomes Garden 2 plays like a cheap, run-of-the-mill Facebook game. There’s minimal depth on show here, and far too much hand holding for it to be considered even remotely challenging. I’ll credit the game for being both accessible and, for its cost, plentiful, but if you’re looking for a deep resource management experience, you wont find that here. Gnomes Garden 2 is just about passable, nothing more.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.