Garden Paws feels like a culmination of Stardew Valley and My Time at Portia, both games I have sunk an unhealthy amount of time into. Garden Paws is essentially a farming sim a la Stardew Valley where you raise animals and grow crops to turn a profit. Like My Time at Portia, though, you also get many requests from the local townsfolk that involve crafting items into other items. But Garden Paws doesn’t just borrow from other games; it improves on them. Watering crops, for instance, is barely even a chore considering how quickly it can be done. This saves you so much time to explore the island and gather flowers or feed the wild animals in hopes of bringing them back home. There is often so much to do in a day that I frequently just let my character pass out at midnight instead of trying to rush home for a good night’s sleep.
The other side of that coin is that the amount of to-dos can be overwhelming. I don’t think I’ve ever had less than five active quests at any one time. My current quest list is so long that it runs right off the bottom of the screen. I appreciate always having goals to work towards, but some quests are given to you long before you can actually fulfill them. There are quests that require materials which don’t become available until a later in-game year, so the quest just stagnates indefinitely. You can always try your luck in the dungeon to speed up access to rarer gems, though. I like that the dungeon is purely optional, as opposed to My Time at Portia where story progress was often locked behind such combat moments. The “combat” in Garden Paws sucks, not surprisingly, but since it’s not required, I can’t complain.
My only real complaints with the game are pretty minimal. For starters, the UI is rather clunky. Managing items in your inventory is a hassle, particularly when you need to move an item from your backpack to your main task bar and vice versa. There are some glaring bugs in the game, too. When playing online, animals and cooking stations will suddenly become invisible for one player. And speaking of online, the game’s password system is completely broken, because randos can still join your session whether it’s password-protected or not. Any issues can be reasonably dealt with, though. The only thing that might be a legitimate turnoff for people is just how long it can take to progress in the game. You have to sell a lot of junk to be able to afford quest-related upgrades like the tree farm (60,000 coins, to be exact!). I don’t know if I’ll ever get the tree farm, but I’m still having fun with everything else the game has to offer.
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