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A Little To The Left lets messy players experience a wild fantasy

A Little To The Left lets messy players experience a wild fantasy

A tidy house? In this economy?

A Little To The Left is a new game about tidying stuff up, setting things straight, ordering the disorganised and, basically, experiencing a sense of calm and contentment that for many of us will always be a fantasy. This “cosy little puzzle game”, to quote its Steam page, presents the player with a series of muddled and jumbled screens where the solution might be to simply pop some cat toys in a basket or stack NES carts neatly, job done; or be more of a multifaceted encounter where ‘order’ can be found in a few different ways. A case in point: arranging jars of spices(?) in colour order so that greens become blues or so that their contents create smooth contours from left to right.

Watch the launch trailer for A Little to the Left below

Oftentimes there’s more than one way to skin a cat, then, to turn an apt phrase given this game features a pesky feline who will, on occasion, mess with your arrangements. Trying to set a spot for dinner, a paw will creep on screen and tug at the placemat, shaking the knife and fork out of their alignment. This agent of chaos is a relatable presence for me - I’ve two cats, and they’re constantly walking mess in from outside, knocking down piles of freshly folded clothes, and generally pushing delicate things off the edges of high-up flat surfaces.

I’ve two kids too, who - and this won’t shock anyone - are messier still, persistently failing to put that same clean washing away properly, letting books stack up beside (and on) their beds, and the toys, oh my, the toys… Some days it’s like a Crystal Maze challenge trying to get from their bedroom door to the curtains. Which is to say that A Little to the Left has given me an insight into what it is to be tidy, and for things to (mostly) stay the way you intended them to be. Set to lovely, lilting (if a little repetitive) music, and cast in pastel colours, it’s easy on both eyes and ears and something you can quickly lose 30 minutes to when you only intended to play through a couple of its puzzles.

A Little to the Left /
Secret Mode

The game’s ‘Daily Tidy’ option will help manage how quickly you ‘complete’ A Little to the Left. This is as literal as you’ve already assumed it to be: one fresh puzzle each day for you to work your way through, in all the ways you can (or rather, that the game accepts as a valid solution). So far these dailies have had two solutions each - sorting shells, batteries, gems and dice by shape or colour, for example. It’s methodical, and very satisfying, in spite of its simplicity (or maybe, because of it?).

If one per day isn’t enough to scratch your orderly itch, you can just press on through the game’s sequential set of head-scratchers, over 75 of them, ostensibly categorised into thematic levels. They don’t always make sense, at least not to me (who arranges their breakfasts with blueberries and strawberries placed just so on a plate, and not simply piled there ready for scoffing?) but there’s still a lil buzz to be had when the game pings and the completion star pops on screen. Not every solution is especially obvious, but if you’re stuck there’s a flexible hint system where you can choose to see as much of the answer as you need to in order to get it without wholly spoiling things.

A Little to the Left /
Secret Mode

Playing A Little to the Left on Switch, I’ve found that the touchscreen method is the best way to make progress, just pulling items this way and that with a fingertip. However, there are some puzzles where I couldn’t seem to get enough purchase on an object, say a picture frame, to flip it just right - but just tap the left analogue stick and a little grabby hand icon appears to make short work of the stubborn object in question (which'll be the default for PC/Mac mouse play). Options, we like to see them.

It’s not much of a game, really, when lined up beside what else occupies my Switch dashboard right now - Bayonetta 3, Cult of the Lamb, Sparks of Hope, and so on. But in its own way A Little to the Left is special: just a pleasant, quiet, wholesome (if we must) distraction from the everyday noise of the place I call home, and an escape into a genuine flight of fancy where everything’s just right, until that darn cat comes along anyway. It’s definitely one for folks who liked Unpacking, albeit without the bittersweet narrative that accompanied that indie gem of 2021, and anyone who’s staring at their digs right now and wondering: where do I even start?

A Little to the Left is out now for PC, Mac and Nintendo Switch (version tested). Code for this coverage supplied by the publisher, Secret Mode.

Featured Image Credit: Secret Mode

Topics: Indie Games, Nintendo Switch