HomeReviews1.5/5 ReviewGnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen Review

Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen Review

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Some reviews end up being more like public service announcements than actual verdicts on the game. That’s because they’re so buggy, so broken, that you need to sound a whacking great klaxon for a potential purchaser to stop. It’s the case with Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen, which carries on the series’ propensity for gigantic bugs by introducing one that’s utterly game-breaking. 

The problem this time round is a catastrophic save bug. Around level twenty, the game will get in a save loop, sending you a message that you need to delete data on your hard drive if you want to continue. Except, of course, there will likely be plenty of space on your hard drive, and no amount of deleting will make room. Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen will enter an endless loop until you force it to close. 

Except, in our case, forcing it to close causes the save to corrupt and become unusable, making the three hours of progress up to that point moot. Sucks to be us. 

gnomes garden 8 return of the queen review 1
You’ll be best waiting to play Gnomes Garden 8

Checking forums, this is a universal problem. There are whispers that it will be fixed, but we’ve waited long enough. Whatever your system (we aren’t able to test on the humble Xbox One), we would advise you to hold back from purchase. 

The real problem here is that 8floor are releasing these titles at a rate of one every other week, and the issues are stacking up. We’re still waiting for fixes to save issues and UI bugs from their other games, so we don’t know when this one will be resolved. You would imagine that this one would be the priority. 

The bug happened roughly halfway through, which gives you three hours of play before things are FUBAR. But even in that time, we could see where things were heading. 

The format of Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen is near-identical to the ones that followed before. It’s one half a tidying sim, as you use your cursor to clear up the mess that’s been left on the paths and mazes around your worker’s hut. By doing this, you generate a bank of resources that will be helpful for the second half of the game: the resource management stuff.

This second half is slightly more complicated, but still far removed from any Sim City or Cities: Skylines. There are ruins of buildings on the paths, and you can use the resources that you’ve gathered to fix them up. Now they are mills, quarries, lumber yards and more, and they will slowly fill your coffers with more resources. With your pockets brimming with stuff, you can now tackle the level’s objectives, removing some larger obstacles or rebuilding landmarks like airships and cable cars. 

gnomes garden 8 return of the queen review 2
Standard 8floor fare

It’s all very simple and intuitive, perhaps to a fault. Because there’s only so much you can do with these ingredients. You can create levels that need you to manage resources carefully, or you can create races against the clock, as you have all the resources you need, but a short time-frame to rush to objectives. Not that there’s a hard time limit: it’s more about whether you get one, two or three stars for the level. 

Even at the halfway mark, fatigue had begun to set in. Unless Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen takes a sidestep into a completely different genre, becoming something like Die Hard Trilogy, then we give the customary Gnomes Garden review: it’s fine, but boy does it get on our tits after a while. It’s the same routine of building a mill, then building the lumber yard and quarry, before upgrading them all to their utmost, and we followed the formula on every level. That’s the optimal way to play, so why change? 

Adding a little joy is the sheer range of regions and colours on display. In Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen, you start in an underwater kingdom, which lets the artists use every single hue in their paintbox. Honestly, it’s almost hard to look at, verging on the garish. But in world two we get switch-tracked to a more temperate, Persian-themed area, and the artists get to try out something new. As a result, it’s visually more varied than we’re used to from the series, which is welcome. 

gnomes garden 8 return of the queen review 3
Goals to complete in Gnomes Garden 8

Undoubtedly there’s even more later on. The map tempts us with what looks like a desert and more Mediterranean region, but – of course – we haven’t been able to reach them yet. They dangle temptingly beyond the save bug and the kick-in-the-nuts of our save game being deleted. One day we will get there. One day. 

What we’re left with is half a game. Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen stops abruptly halfway, thanks to a critical save bug, and it’s a flip of a coin whether you will emerge with your save game in one piece afterwards. At the moment it’s a no-brainer – don’t dare play this. Wait and see if 8floor address the issue.

There’s a second school of thought, too. We’ve played half of Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen, and even at that point we were twiddling our thumbs. Perhaps you don’t have to wait for it to be fixed. What’s already here is not promising at all. 

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Gaudy undersea areas are very different
  • Incredibly easy to pick up and play
  • Can be cosy and relaxing
Cons:
  • Critical save bug stops you from progressing past halfway
  • Levels bleed into each other
  • All too familiar from the other games
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review)
  • Release date and price - 16 August 2023 | £4.19
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Gaudy undersea areas are very different</li> <li>Incredibly easy to pick up and play</li> <li>Can be cosy and relaxing</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Critical save bug stops you from progressing past halfway</li> <li>Levels bleed into each other</li> <li>All too familiar from the other games</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, TXH</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One (review) <li>Release date and price - 16 August 2023 | £4.19</li> </ul>Gnomes Garden 8: Return of the Queen Review
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