Chalk Gardens (Switch, PC)

Kids love playing with chalk outside on the sidewalk, and there have even been cartoons based on that idea, like Simon in the Land of Chalk Drawings from the 70s and Nickelodeon’s Chalk Zone.  And now you can play a game about that, too, with Chalk Gardens on Switch and PC (reviewed on Switch here).  A child’s favorite stuffed toy has lost its leg, and now you must help them find it.  Explore a world of chalk drawings and provide solutions to problems to open up paths to reach new areas.

Honestly there isn’t really much too this game.  You walk around in an overhead perspective and sometimes you meet up with a character or other picture that you can interact with.  But before you do that, you must collect a hat.  When you find one, you can use that hat to provide one of three possible outcomes, and the hats are represented by three different animals.  Once you solve that problem you’ll wear a hat based on that animal and can open up new paths with pictures of that animal on it.  Do this enough times and you can talk to the stuffed animal to end the game.

I would put a spoiler alert here, but really the game is only about ten to fifteen minutes long, so I don’t feel too bad about it.  Before you talk to the stuffed toy that lost its leg, you’ll walk past some chalk drawing that tell a story about a kid and a taller person who is rubbed out.  It could be a parent or sibling or friend dying or just going away, I don’t know.  And then it shows a picture of the kid getting mad and throwing the stuffed toy’s leg in the water.  So when you meet up with the toy, you have to give them an explanation to why you didn’t find the leg.  Depending on how many hats you used during the game, you’ll have a different explanation for them.  And that’s it.

So basically this game reminds me of walking through an RPG town for about 15 minutes, talking with people and gathering items.  But instead of moving on to the next area, that’s the end of the game.  I guess you could replay it to get all the endings, but you’ll probably still be able to do it all in under an hour.  The game is so short you can’t even save it during play.  I understand that the developers were trying to tell a touching story and the game is only two bucks.  But it’s hard for me to back these kind of indie games when there isn’t much substance to them.  I guess I just didn’t ‘get it.’

Kid Factor:

Nothing real violent or objectionable here.  Reading skill is a must for the text and it may cause parents to have to have a conversation with kids about early parental death.  Chalk Gardens is rated E for Everyone.

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