Scrap Garden is a short game billed as a puzzle platformer in which an “obsolete” robot named Canny suddenly wakes up to find all his fellow robots are frozen in time, essentially “dead”, so he sets out to find out why and to fix it if he can. The pics on the Steam page mostly look pretty cute and colorful, and since it was a short game, I decided to tackle playing it all in one day.
It started out as a very chill game, nice light music, fairly simple controls (walk, jump, pick up and throw). After the setup, it goes to a moodier area with darker music, enemies to bounce on (or hit with thrown objects) and it managed to jump scare me quite a few times. Still, the overall gameplay was still pretty easy, until you get to the boss battles. It was here that my otherwise enjoyable experience continued to take a nosedive: six boss battles in all, and the first and last are hideously frustrating.
With the first boss, you are given absolutely no indication on how to battle or beat the boss. The only attack you’ve been taught, jumping on it, is useless and gets you damaged. Throwing stuff at it doesn’t seem to work, at first, in part because there is nothing to throw until the boss starts destroying stuff, but even then it seemed to do nothing. Eventually, I found that was the way to do it, but you had to hit it at a specific, narrow window near its head and a limited amount of time while it’s down. This with throwing controls that are suboptimal for a game that makes it a component of a boss battle.
The bosses after that were not too bad and it didn’t take long to intuit what was needed to beat them. And then comes the 5th boss, which is really you riding on the back of a creature. You have to press three keys in response to prompts, BUT good luck on the timing because it isn’t when you think it is! Adding to the frustration for me with this one is that every time it starts, even though I’ve played on a controller (and the controller is recommended), it gives keyboard prompts! So I had to remember to press A as soon as the screen loaded to get it to give me the correct controller prompts. For my fellow players, the timing is keyed to the initially unnoticeable shrinking circle around each key prompt BUT you have to hit it JUST before it reaches the button’s colored border. Too slow or fast and game over, start again. I only figured that out after spotting it trying to watch someone else’s video to figure out the timing because I finally guessed and memorized the first two, but couldn’t find the freaking third.
Beyond the boss frustrations, the game was overall very easy. The puzzles were mostly simplistic except for one that actually took a while to figure out, and between boss battles it’s mostly walking around, picking up gems to access areas and the small puzzles. I wouldn’t even really call it a platformer – none of the jumps are challenging or tricky. Up until the aforementioned 5th boss, I had mostly enjoyed the game, even though it blue screened my computer once, frozen up a second time on load, and dragged randomly. The story was an interesting little environmental message though the twist at the end was really unearned and the ending itself was just kind of like “okay, the end,” so it felt abrupt and flat.
I’m torn on whether I would actually recommend it… certainly not at full price anyway. But my lack of interest in its prequel, The Day Before, would probably push it over into the pass category. The gameplay issues take away from the charm that the well-done music and graphics brought to the table, and the story needed something more.
Total Gameplay Time: 2 hr, 54 minutes