Sometimes you don’t want to be waist-deep in spent casings and brown, de-saturated environments. Sometimes you just want to float about in beautiful underground sea-caves where nothing is trying to kill you. If that sounds appealing, you might want to check out The Undergarden, a whimsical little puzzle game available for download.
Above: If you get tired of the same old blue Gardener, you can unlock costumes and accessories as you solve puzzles and complete challenges
In The Undergarden, you play the role of an odd little creature who looks like he was yanked right from the Spore creature creator (we’ll just call ‘The Gardener’). Your mission: to pollinate all the plants you can find. Yep. That’s it. But it’s not exactly a walk in the daisies: the plants you have to tend all live in a vast and intricate sea-cave filled with strange life forms, dead ends, and… musicians. In order to fertilize the flora, you’ll have to use your brain and your environment to solve puzzles and find hidden treasures.
Above: So many plants and so unlimited time
The Undergarden’s concept works just fine. The difficulty of its puzzles ramp up gently, but become quite challenging near the end. The environments are gorgeous and the puzzle solving formulas change often enough to keep things interesting, but not so often as to become overwhelming. The Undergarden’s solid game design would be a welcome respite for the plethora of ‘Triple A’ war titles this season, if not for the frequent crashes (every 10 to 60 minutes) we experienced. Progress is saved automatically, but is only saved permanently after each level is completed. There’s nothing more frustrating than making it half-way through a cave only to have the game shut down and force us to start over.
Above: We say, we ought to be able to hire our own gardener
Also, if you plan on playing The Undergarden with a keyboard, be warned that the key bindings will be incomplete when you set up the game (you’ll have to discover the ‘boost’ feature on your own). If you can get past these problems, The Undergarden is a competent puzzle game with beautiful (if a bit samey) art and music direction, a light hearted concept, and an absolutely adorable protagonist. However, if you’re looking for a little more entertainment value (or fewer crashes) for your ten bucks, you may be better served elsewhere.
Feb 2, 2011