Released in October, Gnomes Garden was an addictive strategy/resource management game that we quite enjoyed. It had its flaws but there was something about it that just kept us playing on. You can read our review here.
The series has been on Steam for a while now and it’s no surprise that the next in line has now arrived on Xbox One. Called Gnomes Garden: New Home those familiar with the first game will find very little different here. In fact, it’s arguably the same game with more levels, a few new ideas and a tougher difficulty.
Again, the story is super basic and almost irrelevant.
After defeating the sorcerer collector, the gnomes returned the castle to its old form. But it still stood in the grey wasteland, and there nothing could grow. The princess was worried that her people would soon run out of food and start to starve. So, she makes the decision to set off on a journey to find the secret Green Recipe.
You’ll not remember Gnomes Garden: New Home for its story, no. You’ll remember it for its addictiveness. The kind that demands you just have one more go.
Just like the last game each level asks that you clear a number of tasks to complete it. Here there are a fair few more than just repairing bridges, clearing roads, planting trees or removing sleeping stone giants. In fact, later levels have so many that it can get over-whelming especially if you’re aiming for the full three stars.
You begin each level with a worker (or workers) who you send out to collect resources such as food, wood and crystals. These are then used to repair destroyed buildings such as lumber mills, farms and mines thus giving you a constant stream of incoming resources. Deciding what you build first is very important. As depending on the levels, some resources are more important then others. Each building can be upgraded to give out more resources. In a new twist, once they reach max level a goblin can be sent in to speed up production.
Getting a steady supply of resources is key to completing the level as quickly as possible. While there is not a timer so to speak, the game will award you a star rating depending on how fast you finish it. On the side of the screen is a slowly depleting bar. Finish the level as quickly and efficiently as possible and you’ll get all three stars. Take your time and you’ll end up with just one.
This is where the real challenge comes into play. Particularly in later levels where the time is really tight and to get all three stars will require a perfect strategy.
It doesn’t matter what you get in regards to progress. None of the levels are gated off. So, you can happily take your time throughout. However, there are achievements tied to getting three stars.
It’s nice to see that once of my biggest complaints about the previous game has been fixed though. The below segment is what I said in my review of Gnome Gardens:
It’s frustrating though that the star timer doesn’t stop once you’ve completed all the tasks. For some reason, you’ll have all the tasks complete and it will then start going through an animation win screen but the timer will continue. This lasts for about 5 seconds so if you were right on the nose of the timer just as you completed the level, you won’t get three stars.
This has been fixed as the moment you clear the last level objective, you will get the stars you had earned. Even though the bar continues to drop giving you the impression you haven’t. However, when you check on the map screen, you’ll see that you were rewarded correctly. This is a huge relief as many of the levels (40 onward) are crazy tight for time.
Unfortunately, the other major issue, the cursor and when it comes to clicking items in close proximity is still a problem. Far too many times I accidentally spent loads of resources upgrading a building inadvertently. When I meant to just pick up the resource the building had spat out. This can be the difference between getting three stars or not.
Complaints aside, Gnomes Garden: New Home retains the first games addictiveness even if the repetitive nature of it can’t be ignored.
It really is a surprise that this isn’t a free to play mobile game because it has the look of one but thankfully it is not. In fact, at just £3.99/$4.99 it’s a bargain as it will give you hours and hours of gameplay. It might be very similar to the original but has just enough changes to make this a better game.
Gnomes Garden: New Home