Some games are power fantasies. Some games take you away to vast, magical lands. And some games just have you arrange small household objects in neat and tidy ways. A Little to the Left is a puzzle game that revolves around just that, and its delightful rhythms were just what I needed to centre myself after far too many hours with the blockbuster assault of God of War Ragnarok.
You might not relate to that specific example, but if you play a lot of games, you’ll likely know that sometimes, you don’t want to play something too demanding on your reflexes and mental load – rather, sometimes you just need a game that makes you feel calm, has good vibes, with simple but interesting problems and activities that gently massage your brain – a cosy game.
Farming and life simulators often play this role for many people, though they have their own complex systems hidden beneath the surface. Unpacking showed us there was a lot of comfort to be taken on a more intricate level, arranging individual objects around a single room, rather than plants around a farm. A Little to the Left takes the next logical step, to a somehow even more focused microcosm of daily routine.
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In A Little to the Left, you’re presented with several dozen set puzzles themed around household objects, with the goal being to find how best to arrange them in an obsessively neat and tidy fashion. You’re not given any clear instructions as to how to go about each puzzle, but often the solution is simply to work out the best way to achieve visual harmony within each scene.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as arranging a series of similar-sized utensils in a neat line. Sometimes, the solution will require you to arrange them according to their size, or find the most suitable drawer divider for items to slot into. Some puzzles actually have multiple correct solutions, like arranging items by colour, size, pattern, or symmetry. After all, sometimes you just like to do things in your particular way, and it’s pleasing that A Little to the Left caters for this.
At a certain point, the puzzle solutions get a little more obtuse, and you’ll need to do a little more mental exercise to find the common point of harmony. But for the most part, the scenarios in A Little to the Left are very good at tapping into that elusive part of your brain that has the desire to see everything in its right place. The simple drag-and-drop input is easy enough to encourage you to do something about it – unlike the actual disaster of a house that surrounds you – and there’s just enough friction to give you that sense of satisfaction as you work out a solution. It’s a harmonious balance.
In just a couple of hours, A Little to the Left will charm you with its twee puzzles, pleasant pastel-coloured art, the satisfying sounds of the objects themselves, and the suitably mellow music. A few other uncanny surprises add an extra sprinkle of charm, and once you’re done with everything, a unique daily puzzle gives you a reason to return and take a quick mental break for a small dose of dopamine.
A Little to the Left is just delightful. And that’s all that really needs to be said about it.
Four Stars: ★★★★
A Little to the Left
Platforms: PC, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Max Inferno
Publisher: Secret Mode
Release Date: 8 November 2022
The PC version of A Little to the Left was provided and played for the purposes of this review.