Garden Simulator does what it says on the tin. Fed up with the rat race, and with a very pointed reference to the COVID-19 pandemic, the main character has had to work from home for the last few months and is struggling with worsening mental health. They move to their family’s old homestead to revive it and improve their own quality of life, and you’re thrown straight into some gardening.

The garden is small at first, but you can buy extensions which wrap all the way around the house. While some items in the in-game catalogue are available straight away for you to learn the mechanics, others must be unlocked. The criteria for unlocking each item, both decorative and functional, is in the catalogue, which takes the guesswork out of things, but it’s usually to grow X amount of a certain crop or something similar.

Tasks are sent to the mailbox at the house, which provides some focus for gameplay, but these can be quite mundane and aren't particularly challenging to achieve. They reward you with experience points and garden coins. Levelling up gives a skill point, which can be spent to improve certain aspects of gardening life; improving watering efficiency, increased funds from harvesting, etc.

It's really fun to plan out and design your garden; veggies go in this spot, flowers would look nice over there. You can plant in the ground, raised beds, and pots. Everything feels quite realistic, but the controls seem to have a really hard time letting you put things down with any precision, which can really ruin a whole vision.

Garden Simulator is low risk, low reward, but highly addictive. We spent hours before we even realised it, and found the experience to be thoroughly relaxing; exactly what the small plot of the game sets out to achieve. While it’s nice to potter around your small garden and admire your crops, it does feel somewhat tedious after a while. Tasks tend to be repeated in some form or another, and there’s no variation in season or weather. Every day is the same. It feels like a trick has been missed with this, and that so much more could have been done by adding this in, along with some garden pests.