Publisher: Secret Mode
Developer: Max Inferno
Release Date: 11/08/2022
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As time goes on I’ve learned to appreciate engaging casual games that don’t require intense focus. Small adventure games that only take a few hours to beat, relaxing puzzle games that don’t really have an ending, and anything in between are fun to enjoy and veg out on. It’s the same effect for me as binge-watching a show. A Little to the Left tries to be that. It has engaging puzzles and serotonin-squirting organization puzzles along with cute visuals, but it does come with issues.
The game’s puzzles start out fairly simple. There are around 75 puzzles in the main game with 365 daily puzzles. Puzzles start out with just straightening photos on a wall, putting cat toys in a basket, arranging a dinner set, aligning colored pencils in a certain order, stacking rugs, etc. These first dozen puzzles are relaxing and really give you a taste of what this game could be. Yes, I said could be as the game quickly ramps up the abstractness, and even with a full-on guide and accessible hint system in the game it still doesn’t make sense. The arrangement puzzles are the absolute worst. These are abstract shapes that don’t snap together but instead are arranged in a specific pattern. The patterns usually make no sense since the pieces are so far apart. These puzzles will frustrate most players and lead you into a false sense of relaxation and simple organization and stacking.
That’s not to say I don’t like a challenge. One puzzle has you sliding a mirror to the left and right and arranging the objects according to the reflection. Another has you stacking cat food cans in colored columns that match. These puzzles were enjoyable. My favorite was the organization puzzles. Put all the junk in the correct cubbies. That’s a lot of fun with the process of elimination. Sadly, there are only about four of those puzzles and I wanted more. The difficulty is all over the place, but it’s the artificial difficulty. The puzzles are just so obscure sometimes that most people may quit the game.
I also found the snapping system pretty broken. Sometimes you place an object in the right spot and it will snap into place and make a faint ding sound. However, abstract pattern puzzles require two symmetrical objects in the same spot in the scene before they will snap into place. This hinders progress as there are no tactile hints that you are making progress. There is a hint system that shows you the solution by erasing and uncovering. This was nice as I would try to just erase one part and still be able to solve the rest on my own. However, even the hints sometimes make zero sense.
Thankfully, you can still move on with the “Let It Be” system that skips the puzzle for you. There are some puzzles that have two or more solutions such as sorting from highest to shortest, then by color, and then by matching an image on the same object. While the first solution may seem easy to spot the additional solutions can be insanely abstract and obscure. I really tried to solve as many as I could on my own, but in the end, I solved maybe a quarter of the puzzles by myself. There were just too many that were frustrating or I felt I wasn’t making any progress. Some were just me overthinking the puzzle, but some were just poorly designed.
The visuals are cute. It has a pastel minimalistic look. Lots of colored pencils, charcoal, and watercolor art designs. The music is great and relaxing to listen to in the background it’s just too bad the game isn’t as relaxing. In the end, A Little to the Left is misleading in its first dozen puzzles and quickly ramps up the abstractness and obscurity too much requiring too many puzzles to be skipped. The most enjoyable ones are too few. This isn’t a bad game at all. There are fun puzzles peppered throughout the bad ones, and the overall cat aesthetic is enjoyable with great music.