Tools Up! Might be seen as a sort of a clone of Overcooked, and I can’t really argue that. They definitely have similarities, but they’re also extremely different. Having played both, I can’t really say which is my “favorite” as I enjoy both for their take on chaotic co-op task-oriented gameplay. Instead of preparing and cooking ingredients, Tools Up! Features house renovation—painting, tiling, etc. You can read my original review here, and I remember quite liking it. The recently released Garden Party DLC takes the Tools Up! formula out of the house, and into the yard, as it features a whole new set of renovation tasks to complete.
Tools Up! Garden Party is more co-op maintenance in the vein of the base game, but with a few twists added that make it my favorite iteration of Tools Up!. For the uninitiated, Tools Up!’s style of house renovation is a little difficult to master, especially with multiple people. Each project is limited, and it’s possible to interfere with another player’s project in catastrophic ways, including (but not limited to) spilling garbage, paint, or just generally getting in the way. Garden Party has all of that, but with the addition of a raccoon NPC that’s set on making things as difficult as possible for you and your friends. Thankfully, not every level has a raccoon, but if you see one, be careful or he’ll cackle maniacally as he tosses your tools into the water or blocks you from leaving a room.
While I totally enjoyed the variety of tasks in Tools Up!, I feel like Garden Party’s jobs were the perfect mix of fun and frustrating. All of the new tasks are lawn related, as you might suspect, and include activities like mowing the lawn, planting new grass seed, rearranging garden furniture, trimming hedges, etc. And of course, it’s never as easy as it sounds. To plant new grass, you first have to remove the old grass, next you have to prepare the plot, and then finally plant the new grass seed. Even still, after the seed is planted, you have to water it—which is sometimes a logistical issue in and of itself.
My biggest complaint about Garden party is its lack of integration with the base content. Rarely does Garden Party incorporate gameplay from the base game and the DLC. I think there’s only one time your objective is to perform an in-house task with lawn tasks, and that’s during the finale “boss” level. Hopefully the future Garden Party levels will mix it up a bit.
Garden Party is not just one pack of levels, but a planned three episode season’s worth of levels. Each “episode” of Garden Party will contain 15 levels, with the first 15 available now. I played this DLC on Steam, and according to the store page you’ll have the chance to purchase each of these 15 level packs separately, but you’ll need the previous pack to play the newest one—so they’re not necessarily available a la carte.
I really enjoyed Tools Up! during my first playthrough, so I’m thrilled to have a chance for more. I feel like Garden Party is Tools Up! at its best, and I’m thrilled to see what the next two episodes of content have in store, even if that means facing that damned raccoon again.
Tools Up! Garden Party Episode 1 is out now—you can buy the first fifteen levels or purchase the season pass now.
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