The UnderGarden is a cute, artistic and calming romp through a bioluminescent underwater world full of dormant plants that you need to repopulate. The only challenges you encounter in the game are physics puzzles that must be solved to continue through the level.
The use of simple, tonal music combined with the colorful flora and fauna serve to put you into a Xen-like state while playing. While nothing surreal happened to me, it was certainly peaceful.
If you are a fan of casual games that you can just use to chill out and relax, The UnderGarden is a safe recommendation.
What’s it Like?
The UnderGarden is most similar to:
- Flower – Floating around pollunating the world.
- PixelJunk Eden – Traversing the world to pollinate it.
The UnderGarden is a beautiful, artistic experience wrapped around the guise of solving physics puzzles to re-pollinate this alien world you are floating around in.
“Trippy” was the first thing that sprang to mind when I popped it in and “LSD” was the second, but “Cool” and “Oh I like this” were the 3rd and 4th.
You control a blue little alien that can float around this alien underwater world; jumping with the “A” button and generating a field that picks things up with the “X” button. That’s it.
Your goal in the world is to stomp down on green pollin balls, collecting the polling, and then floating around the world near dormant plants that spring to life as you fly by them. You are occasionally impeded from moving further on in the level by physics puzzles that can require some simple but fun problem solving.
Puzzle solving usually comes in the form of pollinating a special plant that grows a particular fruit with a particular property: like heavy fruit, balloon-fruit or explosive fruit. You then use “X” to grab this fruit and position somewhere in such a way that it weighs down a trigger, pushes up a draw bridge or blows away some rock.
In a game like The UnderGarden the focus needs to kept on physical progression through the world kept at a good clip. We found ourselves stuck a few times trying to figure out a puzzle or figured it out and it just took a few minutes to grind out the answer; all moments that we were being pulled out of the Xen experience to notice the sluggishness of the controls (you can mitigate this by using “A” to jump even in-air) or frustration at wanting to get back to flying through the blooming world unimpeded.
Music plays a creative role in the game, with little characters sitting around the world strumming on instruments producing simple bass tracks of a few notes or a few flute notes. You can pick this guys up and swim them by plants to have the plants change shape/size and color. Additionally you can bring multiple musicians near each other and their tracks will combine into a more complete music track.
Conclusion [7.5 out of 10]
The UnderGarden is creative, graphically pleasing and relaxing to play, for fans of casual “chill” games, it is an easy recommendation.
Unfortunately The UnderGarden doesn’t execute anything so original or stunning that we would recommend it to anyone that wasn’t already a casual game fan. For example, Little Big Planet broken out of the “casual only” fan base because of the appeal of it’s photorealistic graphics for some. There just isn’t that one “Oh shit!” feature in The UnderGarden to cause it to break out.
Bearing all that in mind, if you are still on the fence about picking this up, we would suggest skipping it because you probably aren’t the audience the game was made for or will only get a few hours of entertainment out of it before you are done playing it and put it down (like I did). If the game does sound interesting to you, then you are the target audience for this title and should pick it up, it has a lot going for it.