The Undergarden Review
Before I start this review, you need to go into this game expecting, not a game, but an experience. There is no plot to follow and there is no real goal. Normally, this would be a very bad sign but there’s something about The Undergarden which makes it so wonderful and engaging, This is the antithesis of your Call of Dutys and your Fallouts. It’s peaceful, wonderful and there is no death. Only creation.
Being a typical indie title, you’re just thrown in the game with very little instruction as to what is going on. You play a cute little creature thing that swims about in underwater caverns with the task of causing flowers in this underwater kingdom to blossom and bring colour to the caves. There’s no indication as to why you need to do this or what will happen as a result, and the only extremely cryptic bits of text are in loading screens.
Even without any help there is something that keeps you going. The main purpose is to, essentially, do everything in every level. 100 percenting a level is the ultimate goal and it’s this that makes you want to continue. You do this through blossoming all the flowers and finding all the little secrets. Blossoming flowers is relatively easy. You find a pollen pouch, which is usually not too hard, hit it and collect the pollen to swim around and blossom the flowers with. As you do so, the walls and ceilings erupt in all manner of different colours turning what was a dull cavern into the equivalent of an underwater disco. Each level also has one hidden crystal and a number of Musicians – mysertious little critters who’s music causes the flowers to bloom even further and change colour. Blossoming all flowers, finding all Musicians and grabbing the hidden crystal will allow you to 100% a level. But this isn’t essential. You could go through an entire level without doing it all but you’re completely missing the point. The Undergarden is all about exploration and the satisfaction you get from watching this underwater garden erupt before your eyes.
There are puzzles along the way, but they’re not the most fiendishly tricky. Usually it involves moving blocks, blowing up entrances and so on. To do this, you usually use fruits. You blossom a fruit tree much in the same way you would ordinary flowers except the fruits have different abilities. There are some that are used as weights and some that can explode. It’s a simple case of taking these fruits to where you need to go to pass through. To pick things up, you simply press a button and a sphere surrounds your creature. Anything within it will become tethered to your creature, with the more items attached (particularly the heavy ones) affecting how your creature moves. This definitely shows off the games impressive physics which, being almost too perfect, can really mess up a puzzle.
But really, it isn’t about the puzzles at all. One of the loading screens holds the message “Sometimes it’s just fun to float around” and it is. Soaking up the sights and the sounds is what this game is all about. There’s no rush to anything; everything is taken at your own pace. And the sights and sounds really are worth taking in. The flowers blossoming light up the caves in an array of beautiful colours and the music, especially when accompanied by the Musicians is just beautiful to listen to. It is the ultimate stress reliever.
For those who want things to do beyond getting 100% on every level, there are numerous costumes and hats to collect for your little critter. Each one provides something extra to your creature, making it even more adorable than it was before.
But of course, this might not appeal to everyone. The laid back atmosphere will defintiely not be one for those who enjoy shooting terrorists and blowing up zombies exclusively. For those that are willing to give it a shot, The Undergarden is just a joy to be in. It’s so peaceful and wonderful that everything else doesn’t seem to matter. It doesn’t rush you and it’s not too challenging and is perfect for a little break from the hectic real life.