Garden of the Sea is a relaxing farming adventure from Neat Corporation, the developer behind Budget Cuts VR. Set on a series of islands in the middle of the ocean, you're tasked with returning a dilapidated farm back to its former glory. You are eased into the game by the village creatures offering simple fetch quests in the form of pictures, and with no other handholding you are free to roam and explore, taking on these tasks at your own pace.
The controls are mapped to VR well, using the teleportation controls VR players will be more than familiar with by now. You're then able to adjust your view by using the analogue sticks to rotate yourself and use L1 and R1 to interact with items. Although this works very well and is comfortable for play, we often found ourselves struggling to move into precise locations for viewing requests from villagers or animals.
The core gameplay will involve you planting, watering, and harvesting various plants, fruits, and vegetables which you’ll then craft and cook into items or food to fulfil quests for the island’s inhabitants. These main quests will take about three to five hours to complete depending on how long farming and decorating distracts you.
Farming is very simple but enjoyable as you'll first have to pick a spot to till using the hoe, plant a seed of your choosing by shaking the packet over the earth, water it with the watering can, and lastly put up a trellis or fencing if required. It’s all very engaging and had us lost for several hours perfecting the placement of each vegetable patch and its surrounding fencing. The wide variety of vegetation on offer to grow is also very impressive: strawberries, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, sunflowers, and bluebells to name just a few. However, with the wide variety of items and the limited inventory space we found ourselves having to constantly micro-manage, deciding on which items to just drop on the floor in a messy heap.
Animals also roam the islands from Puffkins and Manateecows to Dragonsheep and Moleberts, these weird but charmingly cute creatures can all be tamed with a combination of petting and feeding them their favourite foods. You can even build them stables to stay in and nests for them to lay eggs, which’ll hatch into young. Fishing is also a very pleasant experience with both the haptic feedback and adaptive triggers making for an immersive minigame that’ll have you wanting to 'catch ‘em all' to fill the pond back at your farmhouse.
If you’re an Animal Crossing or Stardew Valley fan then this is a must buy: its peaceful setting, vibrant visuals, and freedom to explore and be creative when designing and decorating will keep you entertained for hours. It’s a shame that its main story is a little on the short side but with a fairly price point, its cost certainly won’t set you back as much as a trip to Diddly Squat Farm.