HomeReviews2.5/5 ReviewGarten of Banban 1 Review

Garten of Banban 1 Review

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Did Poppy’s Playtime walk so that Garten of Banban could run? 

It was a question I posed myself as I played through Garten of Banban 1. But whilst there is still no sign of Poppy’s Playtime on Xbox, Garten of Banban is here to capitalise by releasing the first four chapters in one go.

As a big fan of Poppy’s Playtime and all the lore surrounding it, it may be a surprise to say that until now, Garten of Banban has passed me by. But that changes now, as I’ll be playing through the first four chapters in order, reviewing them individually. Starting right now with the first chapter.

Garten of Banban 1 review 1
Garten of Banban 1 is free – but is it good?

Garten of Banban is set within a famous kindergarten; one in which everyone has suddenly vanished. It is up to you to figure out what has happened in there but, perhaps more importantly, survive whatever happened to the others too.

Garten of Banban is a first-person horror game with a big emphasis on puzzle solving. Early on you find a drone that you can control and it is this that is used to solve the majority of the puzzles. There are keycards to find to open new areas, and a cool puzzle towards the end that will test you on how much you’ve been paying attention to your surroundings.

There is an eerie uneasiness around the kindergarten you are exploring. It feels like those liminal spaces that create a forlorn atmosphere that you’ve seen on the internet. This place has been abandoned, but everything seems in its rightful place. Whatever happened here, there was no fuss or panic.

That, or the sense of uneasiness could be caused by the giant bird that appears to be keeping an eye on you…

Garten of Banban 1 review 2
Set inside a kindergarten

That is Opila Bird, the big bad for Garten of Banban 1. At one point you need to feed this bird six eggs. It isn’t stipulated whether or not these are the bird’s own eggs, thus making it a cannibal.

But in the one section that Opila Bird will chase after you, it is laughably bad if you do get caught. I was expecting the kind of jumpscares made famous by the Five Nights at Freddy’s games where a creepy face fills the whole screen and screams at you. Instead, you get the least scary scream accompanied by no additional effects. The tension leading up to that moment is really not worth the payoff.

And that is really the only ‘scary’ moment in the first Garten of Banban. Primarily because it is a very short game. My initial playthrough took around thirty minutes, but with knowing what needs to be done, and how to solve the puzzles, that could easily be cut down to ten minutes on another playthrough.

That is if you would choose to do that. Yes, Garten of Banban 1 is free on the Xbox Store, presumably to entice you to delve into the following games, but there are no achievements included with this one. Subsequent games have achievements and all look like easy completions.

As mentioned at the top of the review, there can be no denying that Garten of Banban is heavily inspired by Poppy’s Playtime. I just wasn’t expecting by how much, particularly in this first chapter. You are given a gadget early on to solve puzzles with, the main baddie can be seen keeping an eye on you from afar before chasing you down towards the end, even the locations aren’t too dissimilar from one another. Abandoned toy factory versus abandoned kindergarten. Garten of Banban 1 is almost like a reskinned version of the first Poppy’s Playtime, and a poorer game at that.

Garten of Banban 1 review 3
Short, but not scary

And yet, it has drawn me in. It teases just enough of a wider narrative to keep the player invested, and if it continues to follow the trend of Poppy’s Playtime, these games will only improve in scope. I am remaining open-minded for the time being.

Listen, Garten of Banban 1 isn’t a very good game. It looks fine (perhaps better than I was expecting to be fair), it’s short, but it’s far from scary. It is however, unsettling, complete with pretty decent puzzles, happily dangling the carrot just enough that you want to continue on.

The comparisons between this and Poppy’s Playtime are innumerable, and I do wish I was playing that instead. But see this through to the end I will, even if it is just to satiate my own curiosities at this point.

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Free on the Xbox Store
  • Eerie atmosphere
  • Interesting concept
Cons:
  • Not very scary
  • But it is very short
  • No achievements
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Feardemic
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 25 June 2024 | £Free
Richard Dobson
Richard Dobson
Avid gamer since the days of Sonic the Hedgehog 2. Grew up with the PS1 and PS2 but changed allegiances in 2007 with the release of Halo 3.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Free on the Xbox Store</li> <li>Eerie atmosphere</li> <li>Interesting concept</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Not very scary</li> <li>But it is very short</li> <li>No achievements</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Feardemic</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 25 June 2024 | £Free</li> </ul>Garten of Banban 1 Review
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