As an archivist, I love making things as organised as possible, including aspects of my everyday life. Be it putting my books on the shelf alphabetically or simply making sure the dinner table looks neat, there is a sense of calm that washes over me when I see everything fall into its right place. A Little To The Left wants to recreate this satisfying feeling through such actions. Frankly, I was merely cautiously optimistic initially, but when I saw a cute furball causing havoc in its launch trailer, I got the game as soon as possible. Cats are my weakness, do not judge me!
This puzzler is broken into missions where you take on each problem by analysing the situation visually and finding the proper way to systemise the mess. It might require you to put different shells in a box, place jars of spices in a specific order or clean up your toolshed. There is a spectacular variety of tasks to encounter and I adore how you must carefully examine each without a single word being spoken.
Furthermore, some levels can have multiple answers, such as how you stack your papers or arrange your extra buttons. None of these overstays their welcome either, as each stage is short and easy to revisit, with the hint system letting you uncover as much of a drawing of one solution as possible should you ever want it. If that was not enough, this project also has a great difficulty curve, becoming more demanding and surreal towards the end. Particularly the final chapter is imaginative, by even adding constellations to the mix and more that I do not dare to spoil!
Lastly, there are tiny but praiseworthy inclusions to make the journey as comfortable as possible. You can skip tasks if you get completely stuck and wish to come back later, items are always nudged into their intended places whenever you need to be precise with your inputs, and there is never a forced timer. It is all a magnificent experience that expects you to use your brains through visual analysis, yet also wants you to be relaxed. Honestly, it is hard to fault this title on anything, as it did the most out of its creative concept and ended perfectly within an afternoon’s playtime.
Gameplay Score: 10/10
Minimalism is what comes to mind when looking at A Little To The Left’s style. With simple dots for shading and strong attention to colours through hand-drawn art reminiscent of expressionism, this provides a calming atmosphere by utilising everyday situations to paint each picture. Speaking of, I adore the variety it brings, like having you organise cartridges and cut plants, offering a nostalgic world to take part in.
Even the sound effects are incredible. One favourite example comes from a task where you need to sort a messy drawer which holds so many knickknacks that offer appropriate rustles when picked up, such as pencils, scissors or smaller tools. This attention to detail is in the later levels too, whether it be the screeches from turning bowls or removing stickers, making every action immensely satisfying. Finally, there is the music that has mainly a classical tone to it that is peaceful and memorable through highlighted notes and outstanding diversity. A big focus is on the piano, though as you progress through each chapter, more instruments are added to make your accomplishments feel even grander than what they already do.
Presentation Score: 10/10
Different perspectives are important
I find it truly clever how some stages can have additional solutions, providing you with new and intriguing ways of approaching a problem. None are treated as better or worse, simply as an imaginative method of learning more as you play, like how you can arrange pencils in another manner than their heights! While not every mission has this setup, there are enough to make this a common element to keep in mind. After beating the game, which can take anywhere from two to four hours, there are daily challenges that are consistently worth taking on for a breather and just as fun as the core journey.
Extra Score: 10/10
A Little To The Left is perfect simplicity. It has a brilliant concept executed through creative puzzles that are always a joy to solve, with it all being covered in a presentation that makes me emotional and calm. This genre really has an art to it by containing thorough variety and making sure you never feel a repetitive structure, which this little indie title nails. In fact, this is one of the finest creations ever.