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Video Game / The Gardens Between

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A 2018 indie puzzle game from developers The Voxel Agents.

Arina and Frendt are next-door neighbors and best friends. While sitting in their treehouse one stormy night, a crack of thunder sends the two into a bizarre landscape.

Now the two must navigate towering puzzles filled with memories to find their way home, using the ability to rewind and forward time.

But what awaits the two at the end may be too painful to finish...

  • All Just a Dream: The whole game is implied to just be a metaphorical journey for the two, as they dread the coming move for Frendt.
  • Best Friend: Arina and Frendt are thick as thieves, living right next door to the other and always hanging out. Which makes the situation of moving away crushing for both of them.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Frendt moves away, leaving Arina without her best friend, but they have come to terms with it and embrace each other before Frendt leaves with his parents. Their friendship also created some very good memories while it lasted, symbolized by the treehouse in the connected backyard they used to hang out in.
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  • Foreshadowing: Arina loses her letterman jacket while she and Frendt explore some sewer pipes. It symbolizes her losing Frendt when he moves away.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Downplayed; Arina is a Tomboy who dresses boyishly and is the more adventurous of the two, while the bespectacled Frendt is better at handling technology than Arina. In gameplay, this shows up in Arina being the one to carry the lantern that's integral to solving various light-based puzzles, while Frendt is the one to interact with the levels' hanging bells and often goes his own way to play around with various gadgets in the more technology-oriented levels.
  • Motif: Memories. The puzzles are filled with allusions to Arina and Frendt palling around and making mischief. And how those memories will always be there, even though Frendt is moving away.
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  • Pink Girl, Blue Boy: Arina is the "Pink Girl" who wears a red 'A' letterman jacket, while Frendt is the "Blue Boy" who wears blue overalls.
  • The Reveal: After finishing the last puzzle, the game returns to a hugging Arina and Frendt. Along with the 'Sold' sign on Frendt's house and his packed up car.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Frendt wears glasses and is better at handling technology than Arina. In gameplay, he is the only character who can touch the hanging bells, and in technology-oriented levels, he's the one playing with various gadgets (which is important for solving a few puzzles integral to the levels in question).
  • Stargazing Scene: One of Arina and Frendt's memories involved going outside to do some stargazing. This is symbolized by the level 7-3, which features a telescope.
  • Tomboy: Despite being a girl, Arina is short-haired, wears boyish clothes, and is more physical and adventurous compared to Frendt. In gameplay, this shows up in Arina being the one to carry the lantern.
  • Treehouse of Fun: Arina and Frendt's treehouse, located in the backyard that connects the two's houses, is a frequent hang-out spot for them; spending time in the treehouse during a stormy night is what kicks off the game. The treehouse also serves as a "boat" of sorts that lets Arina and Frendt travel between levels. By the end of the game, the treehouse remains while Frendt moves away, symbolizing the memories Arina will have of their friendship despite no longer being able to hang out with Frendt.