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Garden Galaxy is a game about beautiful clutter

Live, diorama, repeat.

A beautiful tiled garden in Garden Galaxy, with potted plants, a range of tiles, and even a little water.
Image credit: Anneka Tran/Eurogamer

I'm finding Garden Galaxy torturously difficult to play, in part because it has so few rules. This is a garden designing game at heart. You start with a small patch of tiles and a magical pot. Strangers come by and as you click on them they drop you a coin. You put the coin in the pot and out pops something for the garden. A tree. A patch of earth or grass. Maybe a lantern or a little tent. You place these items you get from the pot all around the place, and occasionally you move the tiles themselves around, until you get an arrangement you like. That's the game. That's it.

And it turns out to be wonderful - but torturous. Oh the torture. For me, indecisive, unable to plan, unable to commit to a single approach, I keep getting bogged down in clutter. Other people's Garden Galaxy gardens look beautiful, elegant, perfect bucolic spaces that go no further than they should. Mine look like the contents of an old garage that's being auctioned off because the owner, a hoarder, clearly, stopped paying the bills.

I think I have too much stuff. I love everything that comes out of that magic pot, and I just want to put it on display. Then when it's on display I want to fuss with it, turning it this way and that, moving it here or there. And all the time, more visitors, more coins, more items coming out of the pot. And all I can find is ways for these things not to fit together, not to create a harmonious whole.

Garden Galaxy trailer.Watch on YouTube

I have friends who are art historians and the like who are terribly good at finding the order hidden in things that we find pleasing to look at. A painting that looks like a pleasant jumble will actually have a concealed dance of dipping heads, perfectly balanced in their reappearing, endlessly mirroring angles, say. A Jackson Pollack will not just be a riot of droplets and ink and sprawls of colour, but something gripped by an inner tension so that the whole thing is suspended taut on the canvas and seems to be supporting itself.

None of that happens with my gardens in Garden Galaxy. It's not the game, which is wonderful and peaceful and joyous. It's me. My gardens are botches, and to be honest, I kind of love them for that.