A game by Sylph for PC, Switch, PS4, PS5, and Xbox X/S, originally released in 2021.
Garlic is a precision platformer where you play as the eponymous Garlic, a boy with an onion (!?) for a head, as he climbs the Sacred Tower in hopes of having his wish granted by someone known as the Cyber Goddess. The silly premise is indicative of the game’s overall sense of humor, which is emphasized further by way of goofy animations, and a few exchanges during cutscenes and minigames. But the gameplay itself is no laughing matter, as you dive into loads of tough-but-short levels, aided by frequent checkpoints to keep things from becoming too overwhelming.
Garlic has a small but versatile moveset that allows him to perform a 2.5x variable jump, as well as a wall jump, wall slide, and the ability to jump up walls. More importantly, he has the ability to dash in multiple directions, and the dash distance is also variable, giving him a great deal of maneuverability. A dash may be performed in any of the four cardinal directions, and at slight angles away from these directions, and each dash drains from a POW meter.
The POW meter refills as soon as you touch the ground, allowing you to use it almost continuously along the floor – not that you’ll be spending much time on the ground – but it also partially refills when you smash into a wall or jump on top of an enemy. In addition, there are several advanced techniques where you can slam into the ground, hit the dash button again to send yourself into the air, and then perform another dash. This can also be used to smash into a wall and somersault backwards to dash again, or to perform multiple dashes as you slam back and forth between the walls, or between the floor and the ceiling. These techniques can be chained together for some pretty wild outcomes.
These advanced techniques aren’t strictly required to overcome most of the game’s challenges, but they’re a part of the player’s toolbox to navigate environments that are densely packed with enemies and obstacles. Adding another layer to the gameplay is the fact that enemies do not kill you instantly, but rather knock you back and stun you, temporarily preventing you from using your dash maneuver.
In the early going, this is a pretty light penalty, as you can simply wait a few seconds to regain your dash, but in more complex environments where you are constantly dashing from one point to the next, you’ll have to do some quick thinking (and moving) if you hope to avoid death. This creates lots of frantic moments in an already fast-paced experience as you desperately try to land on solid ground or bounce off an enemy.
While most obstacles kill you instantly – with some resulting in humorous animations where you’re sliced in half or smashed into giblets – others impart a temporary status effect. For instance, when touched by fireballs, your head ignites in flames and you start running, similar to the burning effect in Wario Land 3, except with an internet troll face. During this time, you can jump and change directions, but you can’t stop running, which may lead you to run into enemies or go careening into a bottomless pit. Other obstacles work similarly, such as poison drops from the ceiling that cause your head to swell up and send you running.
The game includes all of the genre staples in terms of level elements, including crumbling platforms, moving platforms, 1-way platforms, bottomless pits, spikes, flame spouts, crushing walls, and saw blades… but these elements are kept fresh by the game’s fast pace, dash-based mechanics, and the near-constant introduction of new gameplay elements as the player moves from one floor of the tower to the next. Some levels consist of a series of single-screen environments, others offer scrolling, and still others offer ascent-based challenges where the screen wraps on either side, similar to Kid Icarus.
The action is broken up in every few levels as the player faces simple bosses, which are defeated by multiple dashes into their weak points, or the player may need to run away from a rampaging beast, or take part in a shmup sequnce.
There are also several minigames, including one where you walk down a street attempting to avoid stepping in poop while kicking cans. Another consists of an auto-running sequence where you run down an isometric corridor jumping over spikes and bottomless pits while occasionally bouncing off of enemies. And another has you cleaning up your room. These minigames impact a “love bar” as you try to get the Cyber Goddess to fall in love with you, which ultimately impacts the ending you receive when you complete the game.
Other minigames come in the form of arcade cabinets where you can spend the “garlicoins” that you find throughout the main game. You often need to complete tough optional challenges in order to reach these coins, but you earn coins as you play the arcade games – and the games are fairly basic – which negates the optional challenge element involved in coin collection. One of the arcade games is a short and simple shmup where you blast enemies and a damage-spongy boss. One is a simple melee actioner where you fight off ninjas, and another Battletoads-esque hoverbike sequence... although all of these games allow you to credit feed your way to victory.
Levels are quite short, with some lasting only a matter of seconds, and checkpoints appear frequently, meaning that you never lose much progress when you’re killed. Even bosses and minibuses are designed to be killed in under a minute… and some in far less time than that. There are a few frustrating sequences where you must overcome a long series of precise actions between checkpoints, which is common in the genre. Less skilled players will find this to be an impediment pretty early on, but experienced platforming veterans will eventually be able to push their way forward to the next checkpoint, even if it's an inch at a time.
The game offers fast movement and snappy controls, although this quick movement can sometimes make it difficult to make minor adjustments on the ground or in the air, resulting in some unfortunate deaths, but this is offset by the frequent checkpoints and instant restarts. Visually, the game features a low color palette with 4-color sprites, harkening back to the early days of console gaming, but with bigger sprites, more animations, smooth parallax, and better lighting effects than anything that could have existed on those old systems. The game also features a rush mode where you can play any level you’ve previously visited with a timer to push your precision platforming skills to their limit.

Garlic was developed by Sylph, a developer focusing on retro-style games. The developer cites Super Meat Boy, Celeste, and Gato Roboto as inspirations for this game. The studio previously released Thrill Penguin and Bad School Boy.
Console versions of the game were ported and published by Ratalaika Games. The studio has published dozens of games, including Sun Wukong vs Robot, Even the Ocean, Metagal, and Remote Life.