Skyling: Garden Defense left me conflicted over how I feel about it. I found myself growing stressed in my attempts to finish the game’s puzzles, but felt enamored by the cutesy style of the game. For example, Skyling Garden Defense starts each of its Pac-Man or Q*bert inspired levels with a short poem containing a rhyming hint about whatever new element of the puzzle is introduced. This is a game that clearly has a lot of love invested in it.
After this, the player will then walk into the labyrinth to plant a new garden. Flowers and greenery grow on contact as we progress through the mazes, trying to avoid enemies and making sure they don’t destroy the pieces of garden you’ve created. Unfortunately, some of the control decisions for Skyling stood in the way of my enjoyment of the game.
I’ll admit that the game surprised me with a real-time movement system. I expected the game to be turn-based, with each of my moves being reflected by the monsters. Instead, the game did everything in real time, meaning standing still in the middle of a path will result in a game over once a monster reaches you. The problem with this pacing is that there isn’t really time to plan a route – especially when a monster changes their path to try to attack you. Another problem I ran into was that the movement controls are particularly annoying – running in a direction for a millisecond too long and you’ll find yourself sliding into the next block.
Despite my difficulties with the controls, I feel that the visuals of the game are very well designed. Each enemy looks unique and each has its own unique traits about them. This made it easier to plan out a path, assuming I knew the quirks of each the enemy. There’s also something super cute about the game’s art, as you turn a barren waste into a pretty garden.
In the interest of full disclosure – I have not put a ton of time into the game. Each time I’ve tried progressing, I’ve ended up rage quitting after only a few minutes of dealing with the sloppy controls. Fortunately, this is something the developer can fix. I truly hope they do, because I would love to see more that Skyling: Garden Defense has to offer.
A poem about Skyling: Garden Defense, in the style of those included in the game.
“With Cutesy Art yet Slidey Controls
Until movement is fixed
It’s not worth the toll”
Skyling: Garden Defense was developed by Mighty Studios, LLC
A review copy of Skyling: Garden Defense was supplied for the purpose of this review by the developer.
Sam has a passion for a number of things, including disability advocacy, Teddy Roosevelt, and the indie game community. You can often find him talking about World of Warcraft lore or whatever his latest indie game infatuation is. Feel free to follow him on Twitter @IndieSamAdonis