HomeReviews3.5/5 ReviewA Little to the Left Review

A Little to the Left Review

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Do you find contentment in a well organised kitchen cupboard where everything fits just so? Or maybe you recoil at a sleeve of colouring pencils not arranged in rainbow order? If you see the value in time spent organising messes into pleasing arrangements then you will find great satisfaction in playing A Little to the Left – a puzzle game based around sorting, stacking and arranging household items.

We know… tidying up isn’t the most promising of activities to base a game on and most people would actively avoid this tiresome, although necessary, activity rather than seek out extra in their spare time. But could A Little to the Left actually make tidying enjoyable? We spent some time finding out.

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Battery packing in A Little to the Left

The game contains around 100 different levels, arranged in blocks of five different chapters. Each chapter has a different theme – for example ‘Lost Recipe’ contains puzzles based in the kitchen or on food and ‘Inner Nature’ involves plants and animals. Talking about animals, a cat features in some of the puzzles. Sometimes he is a pretty benign presence, swiping a paw across your beautifully arranged objects after you have completed the level. However, sometimes he can actively be involved in preventing you from solving a puzzle, for example by moving the objects around. I suspect how you feel about cats in general will set the tone for how you feel about this interference in A Little to the Left.

Each puzzle contains some aspect of sorting or arranging items, and have multiple different solutions for you to find. For example, in one puzzle you are presented with seven jars of pickled vegetables. Each jar is a different height, filled with a different number of vegetables and with different volumes of liquid. It’s immediately obvious the three different ways you could arrange the jars to sort them. 

In other levels what you have to do is not always so obvious, and you’ll have to use a bit of trial and error to work it out. To help you, there is always a hint available that will give you the answer to one of the solutions. The hints are presented in a very clever way, consisting of the solution drawn on a bit of paper but hidden in pencil scribbles. You use an eraser to reveal as little or as much of the scribbles as you like. For some puzzles you’ll just need to reveal a small area to help you get the gist, for harder ones you’ll have to remove a lot more.

If even a hint doesn’t help you to complete a level, then there is always the option to ‘Let it Be’, a rather zen way of saying ‘stuff it’, which allows you to move on from that particular puzzle and tackle the next. You have the option of returning at a later date to complete it. In fact, you can return to any of the previous levels if you like, for example if you only found one solution on the first playthrough and want to have a go at finding them all.

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How will you arrange these?

The puzzles are presented as hand-drawn illustrations in bright, appealing colours and the gameplay is mechanically very simple; you use a hand icon to select objects and move them around into the correct place. If you find that magic area, then the object will satisfyingly snap into place. 

Each puzzle is accompanied by a piano-based lo-fi track which we can’t say we were a big fan of. We are of the opinion that music in a game should enhance the experience, and be barely noticeable most of the time. This musical soundtrack is too repetitive to our liking and not at all entertaining. We resorted to muting it quite quickly into a gaming session.

If the 100+ puzzles available for you in the main game are not enough, then there is also DLC included in A Little to the Left on Xbox, in the form of an extra chapter called ‘Cupboards and Drawers’ – it contains an extra 25 levels. Plus, accessible from the home screen of the main game is The Archive, where the devs chuck a load of limited-time extra puzzles that are based on a particular theme. At the time of writing, these were Christmas based puzzles but we suspect Easter ones won’t be far away. 

There is also Daily Tidy, where you can play a puzzle a day. The ones we played were very similar to the puzzles in the main game, having just a slight variation. But it is a great feature for those people who completed the main game and just want more A Little to the Left content to keep them going.

You definitely have to be in the right frame of mind to play A Little to the Left. We thought it would be relaxing but found it almost the opposite at times. Some puzzles are enjoyable, once you understand what you are supposed to be doing, but others just left us feeling frustrated, mostly as they seemed illogical. We suspect that is more to do with the way our brain works rather than a fault of the game. We found we couldn’t play for long, and preferred to dip in and out, stopping when we were having to resort to using hints too often than not. However, quite often the puzzles become easier when we took a step back and returned to them later. 

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You may get into the flow

Also, the more we played the more familiar we became with the way the game designers think and began to see patterns in the different types of puzzles. For example, many of the puzzles involve arranging objects into a defined space, which means you have to think about how the shapes of the objects fit in their environment and with each other, like a jigsaw puzzle. Once you have successfully done one of these puzzles, then other similar ones make a lot more sense. There are also many ordering puzzles, and being familiar with the kinds of ways objects can be arranged, for example height order, width, by colour etc. it means that you are already thinking about these as soon as you are presented with a puzzle of this kind, giving you a head start.

Completing the puzzles in A Little to the Left does provide some enjoyment, and we have always wanted to return to the game each time to tackle more. However, it does not offer the relaxing ‘switch off your brain’ kind of experience that you might expect in a self-titled cozy game. Maybe tidying up isn’t for us after all…

SUMMARY

Pros:
  • Original concept
  • Lots of puzzles to complete
Cons:
  • Frustrating at times
  • Annoying music
Info:
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Secret Mode
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC
  • Release date and price - 15 February 2024 | £12.99
Gemma Young
Gemma Younghttp://www.snapshotscience.co.uk
I'm a part-time gamer and a full-time writer of science-y things. On the few odd occasions that I'm able to wrestle the Xbox controller away from the avid gamers in my family, I enjoy spending time playing puzzle and adventure games.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Original concept</li> <li>Lots of puzzles to complete</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Frustrating at times</li> <li>Annoying music</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Secret Mode</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, Switch, PC <li>Release date and price - 15 February 2024 | £12.99</li> </ul>A Little to the Left Review
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