We included Garden Story in our list of the best games to cozy up with if you want more Stardew Valley: As village guardian and sword-wielding grape Concord, "you'll bring life back to the island, do favors for your fruity friends, and cultivate your garden while investigating The Rot that's destroying the village." It's set to come out in 2020, but you can play a chunk of it right now.
If you'd like to see what Garden Story is all about, you can get in there now, courtesy of a demo that's just turned up on Steam. Developer Picogram says the demo is "a vignette that showcases a concentrated slice of what the full version of Garden Story will have to offer."
The demo is a relatively small download—214MB—and even though the full release is still months away, it seems really well put together. The interface is simple, the graphics and music nail a relaxing retro mood, and it looks like there's going to be quite a lot to do. I didn't get deep into the mystery of the Rot that's infected the village, but I did make friends with some interesting berries and frogs, and got to play with the basic in-game systems. It's controlled via keyboard, which is fine, but hopefully controller support will be implemented for the full release. (The Steam page promises "partial controller support," so I'm hopeful.)
If that sort of relentlessly cute, no-pressure exploration-RPG is your thing, you probably want to give the Garden Story demo a shot. There is one slight catch, though: It's only going to be available until December 21, which—not coincidentally—is the last day of fall. "With the demo being set in 'Autumn Town' we thought the idea of having the demo only available in the fall would be a bit of seasonally-timed fun," a rep explained.
Garden Story is currently up for wishlisting on Steam, and there's a website with more information at picogram.co.
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Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.