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What we've been playing

Gardens, TikTok recommendations, and a strange mash-up.

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

14th April, 2023

Hello! Welcome back to our regular feature where we write a little bit about some of the games we've found ourselves playing over the last few days. This time: gardens, TikTok recommendations, and that Doom, Mario Maker mashup you've always wanted.

If you fancy catching up on some of the older editions of What We've Been Playing, here's our archive.

Garden Galaxy, PC

Garden Galaxy trailer.Watch on YouTube

Garden Galaxy is a game where you make little 3D gardens. It has a lovely sense of interconnectivity. Odd tear-drop visitors turn up in your garden and you click on them to get a coin. You put the coin in a magic pot and you get a garden decoration out of it - a plant, a pot, something else - and any decorations you don't want go back into the pot and work towards earning you more coins.

Fine. What this doesn't get across is the strategy involved - and for me, Garden Galaxy is definitely a strategy game. At first I was just in love with all the stuff that came out of the pot, so I filled my tiny garden with clutter. Then I realised that what I really wanted was more space, so I put all the decorations back in the pot and focused on only keeping the extra land tiles that came out of the pot. Now my garden is growing but it's a bit empty. Cor, this whole thing is a balance.

There's more. Garden Galaxy is a game of steady surprises, I think. One minute it's something entirely new coming out of the pot, the next - only just discovered this - it's the fact that you can select multiple coins and put them in the pot all at once. This is one of those deceptive games that seems simple but contains multitudes. I'll be playing it for quite a while, I reckon.


Doomlings, card game

@doomlingsgame 🔥 Get the newest Doomlings expansion, Overlush BEFORE it hits stores! Back the #kickstarter and get exclusive #holofoil cards, #plushies ♬ original sound - Doomlings

I found Doomlings on TikTok, which is where I've started to find a lot of games. I was scrolling along merrily, and then I glimpsed colourful cards and cute little creatures and...

Doomlings is actually a game about the end of the world. It's a card game in which you play cards to grow your bank of evolutionary traits, all while the apocalypse ticks closer and closer. I love games with a clock on them, and I also love games with hundreds of different cards - Doomlings has so many traits, and many of them have interesting qualities that put you ahead of the pack or mess with a rival's deck.

What I really love, though, is the sense of time that unfolds as the game progresses, with each round seeing you turn over a new Age card. There's always a risk here that you're going to get a global catastrophe that puts you one step closer to the end of the game, but even before that these Age cards tweak the rules in certain ways, banning certain cards, changing the size of your hand, or just generally screwing with people.

I've had a few games with my daughter so far and they've all been a lot of fun. Doomlings, then, is up there with my touch-powered sleeping duck lamp as one of my better TikTok purchases.

Chris Donlan

Meet Your Maker, PS5

Meet Your Maker.Watch on YouTube

When I first read the blurb for Meet Your Maker, this month's Playstation Plus freebie, I imagined it to be something like Rust. The sentence "Players are tasked to build and raid user-generated outposts filled with traps and guards," had me envisioning a persistent open-world style survival game, something that you could populate with fiendish, trap-filled bases which other players could then stumble across at random and attempt to raid.

After downloading it and giving it a go live on stream however, I quickly began to realise it was nothing like that. Instead what I was playing seemed to be a twisted mash-up of Super Mario Maker and DOOM and at first, I wasn't that taken with it. The gameplay loop is rather simple, even though it's hidden behind a confusingly complicated loot and resource system, and it basically boils down to doing one of two things. You can either indulge in your creative side and build a chunky base full of insta-kill deathtraps by placing large square blocks around a procedurally generated building site, or you can jump into user made outposts and attempt to raid them for their precious 'GenMat' resource before trying to make it out alive.

Obviously you can indulge in both activities if you want, and it pays to do so because you'll earn resources for upgrades by doing both things. If you're a Builder, any players killed in your base will earn you resources and if you're a Raider, any resources you take out of a player base will be yours to keep.

But here's the thing. It's brutally hard to be a Raider and with most traps killing you in an instant, you're going to need to replay each outpost multiple times before you can get to the GenMat core and back in one piece. It's a gameplay loop that is bound to turn a lot of people off, but for me it really appealed to my stubborn side. Once I found an outpost that seemed impossible to beat, I then had to beat it. And so I'd respawn over and over again, getting an inch closer to success each time until finally I managed to escape.

Meet Your Maker definitely isn't for everyone, and in fact, it feels more like an experimental game that developers Behaviour Interactive knocked up for fun, rather than something that'll be played by the mainstream like Dead By Daylight. That said, if you enjoy a challenge (or making other people suffer) I can highly recommend giving it a go as I'm currently thoroughly addicted to raiding the player designed bases to see what fresh tortures lie in wait for me.

Ian Higton

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