A Little to the Left9th November, 2022
PlatformPC, Nintendo Switch
Are you like me, and do you like tidying up and organising everything perfectly? I'm never satisfied unless I've left things in a disorganised pile in the corner. Well, that's a bit of a lie; when it comes to my books, DVDs, games and things like that - I have to have something in a specific order. Even my utensils drawer has to be in a set order, but I imagine that's somewhat normal. Either way, A Little to the Left looks to bring out the organisational freak in the best of us in an easy-going and relaxing puzzle game. You can also read Kai's earlier preview here.
I can't say this will be a long review. There isn't much I can say about a game with you organising things beyond looking at the concept of the game and if it does what it's aiming to achieve. A Little to the Left and developers Max Inferno is aiming to give you a friendly, easy-going - albeit surprisingly thought-provoking (at times) - time. I can tell you right now that it achieves that aim.
What I enjoy about the game is that it offers you the "easy mode" right out of the box, and it's down to your inquisitive nature to go for what could be considered medium or hard. Some puzzles have one solution; it's as simple as that. It's not necessarily putting things in size order, nor is it always grouping similar items (knives with knives, forks with forks, for example). Some puzzles are all about symmetry; others are about overlaying and matching things, and so on.
As well as the varying solutions for the puzzles within the game, you'll find some puzzles with multiple solutions. Later in the game, one such puzzle has you arranging some leaves. I'll give you a spoiler, so forgive me - but there are three possible solutions. The first is obvious, moving in size. Then you have colour, arranging the leaves from red to green (or was it green to red?). Finally, the third solution involves matching the little holes in the leaves. Which solution would pop into your head? Who knows; I managed to get all three.
I want to claim it's because I'm some super genius, but A Little to the Left has also proven that I'm not. There are other puzzles that I genuinely struggled with, and others where I had to use the game's proper easy mode, the hint. It's simple: go into your options and use the eraser to unveil the clue for the current puzzle. I've had to look at a few tips, and that's all they are. Enough to let you know the core solution; it's up to you if there's another one to find.
There's always a risk around puzzle games; what if you can't solve the puzzle? Will you still be able to progress? This is an issue averted by Max Inferno. You don't need to have solved a puzzle to move to the next one. Of course, it will then always be niggling at your mind that you are a failure, a disgrace to humanity - you are a literal Kwasi Kwarteng - but the "Let it Be" feature lets you skip the current puzzle and is invaluable. I had to use it once on a candle puzzle late in the game, and even after the hint, I still couldn't solve it.
One out of Seventy-Five. That's my failure rate, and I'm adamant that I will go back and complete that puzzle one day. There were a few (maybe six?) I used the hints too. Also, I have yet to find all the alternate solutions for some of the puzzles with multiple solutions. I will do all of these once I've completed the required astrophysics course, revived Einstein and learned everything he ever knew, and then spent time in Kamar-Taj on my path to becoming the next Sorcerer Supreme. Either that or until the in-game cat murders me by trying to mess with my cleaning.
Until then, A Little to the Left has a daily clean feature, offering you a quick daily puzzle. In the five I've done, three I'm sure are as repeats of - or at least they felt like repeats of the core seventy-five. I may be wrong there, as the claim is that these are new, and it's not the same for every player. Not that I'll hold it against the game; I enjoyed taking the thirty seconds or so to do a nice little puzzle. Once you reach 365 daily cleans (cumulative, not consecutive), you'll also receive a nice little badge then and at other intervals.
Here's where I would generally talk about the visuals and audio, but beyond saying the visuals are clean and crisp - but ultimately nothing special due to the nature of the game, there's little I can talk about there. On the audio, it's nice and soft, just keeping mellow and not putting you under any pressure with the puzzles. It's pretty nice to listen to, something I could (and have) had on in the background while even working away on something else.
A simple thing to remember with A Little to the Left is that it's not a traditional "game" game. It's a collection of puzzles; some of them are simple, others not so, but you'll never be locked out, never be rushed, and always be given the time you need. A few years ago, I'd likely play this as an off chance, completing it and potentially never even looking at it again. Now, in a time where I could do with that bit in the background, or something nice and calming, it's a great thing to pop on.
PC version reviewed - copy provided by the publisher.
The game's simple nature binds a Little to the Left, but it achieves its aims very well. Even when testing your brain with a puzzle, it is a calming game. It offers various puzzles, some with multiple solutions, a daily puzzle to keep coming back to, and a little amusing narrative in the background that all cat owners will find familiar. This is a game I've enjoyed, and I can find myself returning to it, offering an excellent refresher and palate cleanser.
- A relaxing and - at times - challenging little puzzle game.
- A variety of puzzles, quite a few with multiple solutions.
- The "Daily Clean" puzzles offer a new puzzle to do every day.
- Very accessible and approachable thanks to the hint or "let it be" options.
- A naturally simplistic title due to the genre and style of the game, so won't be for everybody.
- One or two puzzles require too much precision or be a little niggly (looking at you, candles).