Garden Life: A Cozy Simulator – PC Review

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Garden Life is a first-person narrative & life-sim where you manage the community garden of a small, sleepy village. While the garden grows you also contribute to the village and its residents and quickly find your place here. Thankfully for someone like me who doesn’t have a green thumb, Garden Life was easy to get into.

At its root, Garden Life is a narrative game but gardening is the main gameplay mechanic with tasks and quests. However, if that’s not what you’re looking for there is creative mode, a sandbox version of the game. Gardening here is a simplified version of the task similar to Stardew Valley or home improvement in House Flipper but still simulates realistic responsibilities and obstacles.

The game is the latest release from developers Still Alive Games (Bus Simulator series) and publishers Nacon (The Lord of the Rings: Gollum). My review is based on the PC version but Garden Life is also available now on Switch, Xbox and PlayStation.

First arriving at the community garden and seeing the potential of the plot of land
Starting small but with big plans

Garden Life lives up to its cosy simulator name

I had a lot of fun playing Garden Life and it is a worthy addition to the cosy and casual sim genre. I’d love your thoughts on the game in the comments below.


Garden Life begins when the player is hired to care for and manage the village’s community garden. The previous garden manager, Robin, passed away which is felt among the residents you interact with. The garden has fallen into a bit of a sorry state with being badly overgrown, walls & statues fallen to rubble and more. Robin appears as a spirit to you and a list of tasks serves as their unfinished business which you set out to complete on their behalf. As the game progresses you meet the group of close-knit and warm & charming characters who probably exist in a tiny English village somewhere. A beautiful and bittersweet narrative grows as you progress as you complete Robin’s unfinished business and see the effect this has on the villagers close to her.

The Player about the trim some rose bushes which are growing well on this beautiful spring day
Getting the roses ready as spring is just around the corner


I learned quickly the game leaves you to your own devices with planting etc but is also forgiving. From digging up plants to managing space it is easy to change your approach at any time. This helps with focussing on Robin’s task list or requests from the villagers to sell on. It isn’t all planting and watering, while tangling with weeds and repelling insects you also have to contend with the limited number of storage slots. Especially early on it became frustrating managing inventory but it wasn’t too long before you got a stall in the village square to sell items for a decent amount of coin.

Along with the pleasant story, I enjoyed the mood of Garden Life and how there was zero pressure and go at your own pace. Time flies when you’re having fun and so sunset often arrives quickly but with no deadlines, it is a relaxing experience. The variety within the game is great from plants to an array of customisable items. And the different species of plants from selective breeding were pleasantly more than expected. A virtual green thumb is a good step for me as caring for plants with watering etc became relaxing and cathartic. And as you earn more money there are new tools, garden furniture and more to spruce up the place.

Walking to the garden on a rain day but still doing so happily
Well at least I don’t have to water any plants

Graphics & Audio

I enjoy the stylised design style of Garden Life and it goes well with the setting. The main locations of the garden and village square are lovely to look at and explore with lots of detail in both. The art style is vibrant and relaxing which adds to the easy-going tone of the game. The backgrounds such as mountains were equally as pleasant to look at and admire.

On PC there are settings to adjust the quality of shadows, graphics and textures which isn’t necessary to have at high but does help the feel of Garden Life in the day-night cycle, different weather and more. I did have the game freeze on me and be unable to interact with objects or even continue dialogue so it was frustrating when restarting was the only solution.

The audio and soundtrack are great from the ambient sounds and music to the portrayal of the villagers. The voice acting especially gives the game the feeling of a small British village with a few quirky characters to keep things interesting.

A sunny day as the player looks at the gardening hut and the surrounding area
Well maybe have a break after all that weeding


Garden Life comes with many hours of gameplay and is very easy to put down and pick back up. I’m several hours in and feel there is tonnes more to do and I’m excited to keep going. Going at your own pace there are lots of hours to spend here. I’m not one for pursuing achievements or trophies but the 37 achievements to be unlocked on Steam seem fun to pursue. Then there is the creative mode to perhaps double the gameplay time you can spend playing.

Final Thoughts

I have had a great time with Garden Life so far and look forward to playing more. The game delivers an engaging story while having the freedom to play at your own pace. And with different approaches, you can manage the garden your way. The easygoing tone is strengthened by the graphics and audio. The setting is beautifully detailed and the soundtrack and voice acting go hand in hand very well. It feels like a small British village and a game you can spend many hours with.

I am pleased to give Garden Life the Thumb Culture Golden Thumbs Up award! I am looking forward to what Still Alive Games develops next. If you enjoyed my review, you can find my thoughts on the preview of Ultimate Fishing Simulator 2.

Disclaimer: A code was received to write this review.

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