Feel-good gem Garden of the Sea combines world exploration with farming, creativity and much more. If you are looking for progression and adventure, you will find it. If you are looking for relaxation, stay where you are and let the world gently take its course. The wholesome game launches on PlayStation VR2 February 22.
Make gardens and craft everything you might want to customize them, from bamboo, coral, woods, stone, plant parts, and more.
- Pet and feed the many kinds of animals with homegrown veggies and cuddle their babies
- Expand and decorate your home by crafting items, furniture and paint
- Go fishing for new friends to hang out in your pond
- Take your boat for a ride to discover new land and environment types
- No violence – all tend and befriend
- Complete quests to unravel each island’s hidden mystery
Garden of the Sea invites you to head out across the ocean as playful sea creatures swim along, to discover new land and treasures, make a home and fill it with the best of the best from your adventures.
Meet the developers
Linnéa, Christoffer and Flippy of Neat Corporation.
We spoke to two of the developers: Art Director Christoffer Svenningsson and Artist Filip “Flippy” Tengwall.
What led up to the start of Garden of the Sea’s development?
Christoffer: I had been wanting to make a specific type of game for a long time, like a more fantasy version of Stardew Valley and Harvest Moon. Something bright, imaginative and wholesome with lots of creativity, farming and places to explore. On a boat!
Flippy: It’s a genre a lot of us at Neat enjoy playing ourselves so when we heard the idea it was easy for the mind to go “What if this in VR?”
Christoffer: As the idea caught on we found ourselves sneaking in work on Garden of the Sea even while the first Budget Cuts game was still in production. It lay in the pipeline for a long time so the concept got to evolve slowly and organically while we explored as many of our ideas as possible. It was just a lot of fun to work on and a relaxing contrast to the dark corridors of Budget Cuts, so it was hard to stop ourselves. Someone snapped a photo of me during a break just lying on a pouf playing GotS like a happy loaf of man with a huge smile on my face. That one’s definitely found its way onto our instagram at some point.
What was the core of what you wanted to create?
Christoffer: The original pitch is actually quite different from what the final game ended up being, even though much of it’s still in there. I wanted to explore a world that feels familiar at some levels but still different from everyday life. From the beginning we were toying with many ideas, like the islands floating in the sky and exploring them on an airship but in the end we landed (no pun intended) with the boat in an archipelago. We hadn’t seen much of animals in VR, so the care-taking aspect was also new for us to explore. There aren’t many VR farm-simulation games in general. Coupled with that we felt that these types of games were the most interesting to us personally, we got really excited about the project. I’ve been following this genre for a long time so as a fan it felt very natural to bring it to the VR scene. And it turned out that it works really well.
I can confess I played Stardew Valley the first time when on sick leave for insomnia and stress, and for a while it was the only way I could find a sense of relaxation to pass the time when I was too exhausted to do much else. And as I read some Garden of the Sea player reviews I came across a few that mentioned mental health and how Garden of the Sea has helped them in various aspects of their lives.
Flippy: From the top of my head there is a fairly recent review that mentions feeling less lonely when playing. It reminded me of when the pandemic hit. We had the game open for purchase and playing to collect feedback from players before we finally made an official release in January 2022. There were obviously a lot of unknowns and fear in general society and we were all working from home, as most people who could were. We kept in contact with the player community for feedback and a lot of people also reached out to us in private just to tell us how the game was helping them cope. Even though it’s a single player game, many people felt it helped them through the isolation and other struggles too.
Christoffer: I can recognise that too from my own life, having grown up in the countryside on a farm with lots of animals around. It does feel more lonely here in the city, where many people don’t have the space at home to keep pets. I definitely feel an emotional connection to the GotS animals even though they’re digital, which surprised me a bit.
Flippy: I think VR as a medium generally amplifies immersion times a hundred. Since many games out there are action- and conflict-driven, VR in entertainment has proved to give us stronger adrenaline kicks and more realistic scares. But it was cool to discover that we can use that immersion boost to work with other emotions as well, such as what folks usually refer to as “positive” emotions. It was especially clear to us when we saw people playing the game. Their reactions to the cute animals were often surprisingly strong, like “whoa, that’s cute!”
Garden of the Sea will be a launch title on the PS VR2, February 22.