A Hero and a Garden is a visual novel game with little gameplay and a sweet story developed by npckc and published by Ratalaika Games.
The tale told surrounds a Princess who has been locked away in a tower by a witch. Anyone who approaches and tries to rescue the Princess ends up dead at her hands. The Princess’ fate seems to be decided, unless a young hero can rise to the challenge!
The youngster, sworn to protect the Princess, battles through monsters on route to save her. Unfortunately for him, he fails at the last hurdle but the witch spares him. Choosing to curse him and lock him in the tower that held the princess.
Why? Well, in a fun twist, our hero is made to look like the villain. Using his magic sword to wound free-living ‘monsters’ on route to rescue someone who never actually wanted to be rescued. Yes, the Princess left her kingdom by choice and has been living happily with what the hero presumes are evil and ugly monsters.
The fact of the matter is, what he and humans deem as monstrous, are just different looking creatures wanting to live a peaceful life. The witch protects them from outside invaders but with our hero, named Cyrus, she sees a chance to rehabilitate.
Some might find the morals of the story ham-fisted and while they’re pretty on the nose, it doesn’t stop them having impact. Especially as the story develops and more detail is revealed about Cyrus and the Princess. It’s a chance for a new beginning, it just requires love and understanding.
Oh, and fixing up a garden. Yep, the core gameplay mechanic of A Hero and A Garden is garden management but in the lightest way possible.
It begins with one plant and as the fruit of the plant grows, you must press a button to collect it. It’s very simple and while eventually you’ll have five different ones growing, it never gets taxing, aside from the repetitiveness.
The purpose of these fruits is to collect enough so you can fulfil orders made by characters from the town Cyrus wrecked in his rampage. This is the gameplay crux but it’s not what draws you in. That comes from the story and the interactions Cyrus has with the characters ordering fruit. It is incredibly wholesome and filled with a ton of heart. It is this stuff that makes you fall in love with the game.
Add child-like animation which really fits the game’s style, bright colours and tranquil music to the pot and what we have here is a really tasty brew. It will last between 90-120 minutes but with 5 different endings there is some replay value.
Not much was expected from A Hero and a Garden and maybe that’s why it is so enjoyable. If this review was basing it on gameplay alone, it would be given the low-end of a score. However, when everything else is taken into account it rises way above mediocracy to something that is quite memorable.
A Hero And A Garden
The Final Score - 7/10