BREIFS is a series of blog posts where I highlight a short game and explain my thoughts on it without spoiling too much.
BLUEBERRY GARDEN is a videogame developed by Erik Svedang for the PC, Mac and Linux.
I try to doodle every now and then. I keep a notebook on my desk specifically for this purpose. I find it relaxing. Even though I’m not good at drawing, I like letting my mind drift and seeing that process reflected on paper. I usually draw abstract symbols, characters, everyday objects and labrynths. Sometimes I draw while watching a TV show. Sometimes I wish I could draw while playing a videogame, but my hands are busy.
Blueberry Garden takes place in one big level. The player controls a rudimentarily animated birdperson who can jump and glide. The jump is heavy and short. The glide is smooth and long. The world is of a soft white colour, angular and labyrinthine. By the name one assumes it’s a garden. It has flowers and leaves and fruits and birds in it. There are oversized everyday objects of all sorts scattered around. When the player stands near one of these objects for a few seconds, it teleports them and itself to the starting area of the level. Doing that a second time, one might notice the second object is piled on top of the first one. The cutscene at the beginning of the game shows an open faucet, nothing more. Soon, the player might encounter a pool of water and have a realisation; it is rising.
Blueberry Garden is a game of few words. Helpful signage explains the controls at the relevant locations, everything else must be figured out through experimentation. Suffice to say, it’s unlikely one will finish it on their first try, but a soft piano soundtrack assures them it’s just fine. This game has no interest in wasting the player’s time; every element that might seem a little bit unfair is only so once, if they were paying attention. When everything there is to discover has been discovered, going through it all as effectively as possible is equally as satisfying.
Throughout playthroughs, the level stays the same, something which might come as a surprise to those accustomed to the randomly generated trend that is so popular among indie platformers these days. That however, doesn’t mean the game is completely predictable. The different fruits, which one can pick up and consume, have different effects that once unveiled might change how the player looks at a challenge they encountered somewhere else. The objects and geography behave in physically versatile ways, making the world feel lively, like it exists outside of the player’s own experience of it.
It’s a puzzle of a world where nothing is mandatory and one can teach themselves at their own pace, guided by their curiosity alone. However, unlike other games with a similar premise, like Starseed Pilgrim, the mysteries here are more literal than cryptic, and the punishment for failure is pretty much nonexistant. Blueberry Garden is like a doodle come to life, where water flows, flowers flourish, and everything has more to it than it seems at a glance.