A Little to the Left Review
Hold on, this is going to bother me all day if I don’t organize my papers.
Publisher: Secret Mode
Ah tidying and organizing things. I loved tidying and organizing things as a kid and I still do now. Stacking papers (or paper-like things) in order from biggest to smallest, organizing books in various different ways (while keeping a book series together), organizing drawers and making sure all the measuring cups/spoons are together, organizing things by color, and oh boy the maddening task of trying to get a frame perfectly straight on a wall. On one hand it’s going to bother you for a while (and whenever you notice it again), but on another you’ll forget about it eventually and not sweat about it as much. Not to mention some annoyances like where do I put multi/duochrome polishes or when you have a whole book series in paperback…except one that was only available in hardcover (and is thus taller than the paperbacks). Anyway, the point is, when I saw A Little to the Left it felt like a game I had to check out eventually. I like tidying things up and this game is about tidying things up. Win win.
A Little to the Left, as you probably expect, forgoes a story to purely be about the tidying up puzzles. Though, it does seem like a lot of these were caused by your cat who seems to love messing up your meticulously tidied places and do the classic “knocking things off the table” cat move. The game is separated into five chapters where about 80-ish puzzles are organized in based on whatever theme they fall into.
A Little to the Left is pretty simple, but there are a lot of puzzle variations as well as objects that you’ll be interacting with. The tidying and organizing itself starts out pretty simple and does build up in complexity a bit (just a bit, it never gets too complex). At first, as well as sprinkled in throughout, we get super simple levels like straightening frames and meticulously placing everything in their place on a desk; but it builds as you soon find yourself organizing books, a kitchen drawer, and boxes. Making sure everything is in their right place and is in the right order. Aside from trying to figure out the solution, all you need to do is drag the items around to the right place (or in certain levels click or pluck). Your cat also makes an appearance every once in a while to playfully swipe at your work.
It’s important, though, to remember that a lot of levels keep symmetry in mind. There are purely levels where you have to make things symmetrical (in the last half of the game though), but if there’s items in a level that are symmetrical, share color schemes or could be made into a color gradient, or even items that together make a design or are alternating directions it’ll call for you to have it symmetrical. Sometimes it’s easy to forget, or not know early on, but most of the time the level isn’t completed that’s why.
Honestly, I think my favorite levels were those that I actually do in real life like organizing books and drawers. And I think those are the levels the game does best since there are a few levels that I didn’t feel really fit (which all show up in the last chapter).
There is a hint system here in the form of a scribbled out notebook. All you have to do is erase the scribbles to see the hint. Although, it’s less of a hint and more giving you the solution, or the main solution for those with multiple solutions. I actually didn’t look at hints apart from maybe an handful, though it was useless for multi-solution levels since the hint usually is a solution you already figured out (aka the easiest solution). So I wouldn’t use hints unless you want a solution (and especially if you want the achievement where you don’t look at the hints). There’s also a “Let it Be” option which serves as a skip so you don’t have to be stuck if you’re someone that doesn’t want to look up the solutions.
Though, there were some personal disappointments and annoyances for me. There were a couple of levels that I didn’t like, which turned out to be a level where you arrange a stack of boxes (that one was so annoying) and the plant symmetry level where you’re plucking leaves (and if you pluck the wrong one all leaves regrow). At first, the levels where you create a symmetrical pattern with objects was one that annoyed me too, mainly since I got one as a daily tidy before I got to it in the main game and was doing every other possible solution, but it grew on me as I was doing the daily tidies. I did also think some were a bit too obtuse or a specific part of a level was a bit too specific (or even one where it has the crumbs be part of the solution rather than throwing it away like before). There were some that didn’t quite make sense until I saw the solution and I did expect to be more levels with multiple solutions as well, which didn’t help since there were some one-solution levels that I found other solutions for. Like the egg carton one, which I tried organizing it like I usually do rather than what the game wanted. Not to mention the last level going on for a bit too long.
I also did wish levels with multiple solutions gave you a choice on replaying rather than automatically going to the next level like usual (when you’re playing through the first time). Or having it as a setting. I, personally, liked getting all the possible solutions at the same time rather than going back later and it was a bit annoying having to exit out to select the level again.
I did hear the cat annoyed a lot of people, but for me the cat didn’t annoy me. Maybe it’s because the cat was silently toned down a bit before I bought A Little to the Left, or maybe I was doing the levels the cat can mess up too quickly, or maybe it’s because I had a cat before for years as a kid; either way I’d say don’t let this aspect turn you away specifically. I honestly was expecting the cat to have more of a presence as it did, but it just made the occasional appearances and I did find it easy to fix up what it did mess up anyway.
While the main game will only last for a limited time, there is a bit of the game that asks you to return to the game every day. A Little to the Left has a “Daily Tidy” section of the main menu, which everyday will give you a quick tidy puzzle for you to do before it resets at midnight. Daily Tidy takes a handful of levels and remixes objects or patterns to try to keep it fresh. For the most part it’s okay, but I didn’t like the constellations or the plant symmetry tidies. Though, this is where I came to love the symmetrical pattern ones. Luckily, you can just change your system’s time if you don’t want to wait. Or you want to play the Christmas and Easter Daily Tidies without waiting (and honestly, I think the Christmas ones were my favorites).
For the most part, I did like A Little to the Left. Like I said in the beginning, I like tidying and organizing things in real life so a game where you do that felt like it was made for me. While it did fall short in some aspects, I did still like playing through all the levels and couldn’t keep myself on a “one chapter per day” plan. It’s good and if this is the type of thing you do in your life, or this puzzle type appeals to you, I do recommend it.
Though, I would wait until it goes on sale. I got the game for around $11 and had a little bit under 7 hours, after completing the game and getting all but nine daily tidy achievements, and I felt it was worth it. And even better, since there is DLC and a bundle, if the main game is discounted you can get the bundle for a bit over the price of just the main game when it’s not discounted.