The Nomad Gardener is a text based gardening game created by Australian brothers Jim and Ben Batt for the 2014 Global Game Jam.
Gardening isn't a particularly exciting task. It's laborious, and if you're bad at it there's very little reward. My thumbs, for instance, are not green.
Still, when I learnt of the existence of a text based gardening adventure game, I was compelled to give it a go.
The Nomad Gardener was created for the Global Game Jam, a game development event that takes place in various locations around the world giving creators just 48 hours to design, develop, create and test a new game.
In 48 hours brothers Jim and Ben created The Nomad Gardener. The game may be super simple at first glance: it will play in any browser and the only real skill required is the ability to read.
It is not however, super simple to play. Maybe I hoped that I would fare better at virtual gardening than in real life. I was wrong.
The goal of the game is to simply grow a garden. Preferably you will want a rich, full, beautiful one. There are four areas that make up your garden, but they change when you restart the game.
The garden in my first playthrough consisted of a shady glen, a flower meadow, the manor grounds and the bramble woods. When I restarted after I killed everything, I was presented with four new areas.
Every area has a different environment. It could be sunny with rich and moist soil, or it could be shady with soggy and loamy soil, or partially sunny with loamy and moist soil. It is your job to pick from a list of plants what to plant in each area, followed by maintenance through watering, weeding and toiling the soil.
You will need to see what environment is best suited to each plant, however the only way to bring that up is to plant it, then click the plant name from the list of what you have planted. Might be wise to write the environment down for each plant so you have a go-to guide.
The music, created by New York artist Kim Boekbinder, will change depending on whether your garden is striving or dying. The left side panel informs you of your garden's status, and if it reads pretty, the music will reflect that with a soothing melody, allowing you to imagine a peaceful, aesthetically pleasing garden.
If your garden gets a little wild, on the other hand, the music dramatically changes and you feel more like you are walking through a haunted, overgrown forest.
If you're lucky, flowers will begin to bloom and your garden will flourish. I got close once, but I didn't give my the garden the attention it needed, and when I went to check on my marigolds in the manor grounds, all that I saw was: "Growing here is a dead marigold."
Those words hit me hard. I really tried. I thought I was doing well. Despite myself, I wanted my garden to grow and with every failed attempt I just wanted to keep trying again.
It's a shame I don't care this much about my real garden. Play The Nomad Gardener now.