As someone that spends large chunks of their disposable income on ?art house? games, The Undergarden seemed to have everything in place to be a great experience. A lovable and really odd looking character – check. Cool visuals that would probably be way more impressive while wasted – check. A fun soundtrack – Check. On paper it might look like this game was set to knock it out of the park, but falls just a little short along the way.
The character, which first glance looks like a combination of a stress toy and children TV show mascot, is probably one of the first things to start falling apart. Besides having almost no personality it also doesn?t seem to have any frames of animation. The core of the gameplay is mainly moving ?it? around the environment collecting pollen and moving objects to activate levers, both of which never really seem to involve little more than moving the bizarre creation near static object. After the first two levels it starts to feel like its entire character could have simply been replaced by a default cursor or glowing light and make the same impact on gameplay.
The controls do not do the game any favors at all; as default controls, mouse and keyboard, make the game almost unplayable. The tutorial level itself ended up feeling sloppy and unresponsive with the set up. This wasn’t helped that several aspects of the game were never explained, such as the weight of carrying items impacts the speed the character movement, making the game at times feel fully uncontrollable. Gladly a 360 controller is fully mapped on plug-in making it functional to play.
In videos, The Undergarden looks amazing; plants bloom as the player darts past in wild and bright colors and the small maze-like feel seems that as if one could get lost in its complexity. None of what was shown in those videos carried over to the game. Granted, flowers bloom when the player swims past if they contain enough pollen but going back to get more ends up feeling pointless and tedious after awhile. That feeling that things were only designed from a point of traditional gaming starts to carry over to the visuals as after a level and a half it is easy enough to figure out what plants need to be pollinated to progress in the level and which ones are just there for extra points.
The Undergarden doesn’t ever really turn into a bad experience, just one that most people will never go out their way to play. From the ground up, the entire game plays more like someone trying to make a visually cool, art house, game and missing the mark. The problem with this attempt is that it all turned into more of a game instead of focusing on the style. This time next year most people into this type of game probably won’t even remember it came out.
Not As Good As: Flower
Also Try: Playing it with a controller
Wait For It: Minecraft to go gold
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