Winners & nominees 16th IMGA

The Gardens Between

Nominated for the

16th IMGA

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Studio/Developer
The Voxel Agents
Country
Australia
Website
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    About The Gardens Between

    Best friends Arina and Frendt fall into a series of vibrant, dreamlike island gardens peppered with everyday objects from their childhood. Together they embark on an emotional journey that examines the significance of their friendship: the memories they’ve built, what must be let go, and what should never be left behind.

    Lost in a mysterious realm where cause and effect are malleable, the friends find that time flows in all directions. Manipulate time to solve puzzles and reach the apex of each isle. Follow the duo as they unpack and explore their significant moments spent together, lighting up constellations and illuminating threads of a bittersweet narrative.

    FEATURES
    • Vibrant, storybook-inspired art style
    • Dreamy tale of adventure, friendship and growing-up
    • Gorgeous single player experience with a meaningful personal story
    • Bespoke ingenious puzzles require the manipulation of time to solve
    • Accessible design; simple controls, and no text, speech, time pressure or complex UI
    • Relaxing, ambient soundtrack by feature-artist Tim Shiel
    • Play in widescreen landscape or tall portrait view
    • Seventeen achievements to find and complete
    • No internet required. No data tracking. No in-app purchases. No ads.

    What makes my game unique?

    We created The Gardens Between to be a broadly welcoming experience that expands the idea of what a game can be. It invites players and “non-players” into the game through a relatable, simple story with delightful “aha” moments. With a focus on environmental storytelling and symbolic surrealism based on childhood and nostalgia, we aim to create a world where players can discover their own version of the story while attributing a personal meaning to what they find.

    Why could my game win an award?

    The Gardens Between is a very ambitious title for us, creatively, financially and technically. It is our first game on either desktop or console, the design is really unique, the art has constantly evolved over four years, and the storytelling is subtle and constrained. We’ve managed to ride the fluctuations of creative soul-searching across a four year development cycle and bring it together into a satisfying and meaningful experience that we are really proud of. The game is a cross-disciplinary feat having tightly woven art, gameplay, storytelling and audio into a complementary whole. The gameplay metaphorically captures the narrative intent (to cherish memories), whilst the storytelling is conveyed indirectly through environmental art and symbolism. Furthermore the forwards and backwards time traversal enables innovative puzzles which requires players to observe, explore and tinker with memories. The elements come together to explore how our recollections are often filtered, amorphous views of the actual events that occurred, and through the lens of memory we join our two protagonists in moments spent together. We pushed ourselves to find a minimalistic elegance, and in doing so had to elevate our skills and processes - shattering our assumed limitations of the medium. The innovative structure of the game and the use of environmental storytelling free it from speech, text, user interface or menus. Working within these limits we took inspiration from the framing and composition techniques of short films and narrative vignettes - an area often under-explored by digital games. It is navigated with simple left/right controls and an ‘interact’ button. It can be enjoyed at any pace without time pressure or reactive gameplay, which makes the game a supremely inclusive, welcoming experience to a very broad audience. Most important of all, the game has left a permanent imprint on thousands who've been touched by the game's unique melding of story, symbolism and nostalgia, and has inspired many players to reconnect with long-lost friends.