I don’t know how, but I accidently stumbled into another puzzle game centered around a cat. At first glance, A Little To The Left appears to be a comforting game about putting everything in your world just right. And it is. But an adorable feline companion gives some depth to the narrative, sometimes acting as an agent of chaos, and other times a character to save. But those fuzzier elements of the game won’t show up until later.
Chapter one (called Home Sweet Home) was, predictably, focused on straightening up my virtual living space. I know that can be a hard sell, but it really is a fantastic, multi-leveled ASMR experience. I can’t praise the audio design enough for truly making the game shine. The hollow click of a pen hitting a desk, subtle 8-bit era beep when arranging cartridges, and spot-on imitation of peeling a sticker from some fruit activated something deeply fulfilling in my brain. It’s a perfect background for the tidy gameplay.
My objective is to create order out of chaos. Initially this means adjusting picture frames or grouping thumb tacks by color. Though simple, each completed challenge gave me an instant sense of accomplishment. (Like, do I even need to do my real-life dishes anymore?) It’s also ridiculously calming. Soft music, simple tasks, and no room for the outside world’s complications. Only the perfect pen placement. I also found a reference to the publisher’s past game, Penko Park, which brought a smile to my face.
As I progressed, the puzzles started to take more critical thinking. I would no longer hear the *ding* of victory by putting things in order from tallest to shortest. I had to discern patterns and figure out the unique categories governing how one item related to another. This is when I began to really appreciate the game’s hint system and laid-back design.
The hints section is wonderfully thematic. Rather than give me the answer, the game shows me a notebook, totally covered with pencil scribbles. By grabbing a nearby eraser, I could pick and choose what to uncover. If I only needed help on one small thing, I could clear the image in just that section. However, revealing the entire page was always a no-judgment option. I was also a big fan of the “let it be” choice.
Located next to hints in the menu, this choice allowed me to skip a puzzle and move forward, which saved me a great deal of frustration. Most of the time, I turned to “let it be” when I had the right answer, but the game didn’t register it. I also hit the button a few times when I had come up with my own, perfectly sensible, solution to something but the game wanted something different. What I like best about this offering, however, is it allows anyone to get through the entire game even if they can’t finish a puzzle. So many players never see the end of a puzzle game because of one snag, and I love how this simple addition completely sidesteps that issue.
Now, for the cat. I began seeing this mischievous pet more in the second half of the game, where it played the role of a very cute antagonist. Shuffling my puzzle-pieces, leaving dirty footprints, and stealing my implements were just some of its favorite games. However, in the final sequence — a constantly evolving puzzle made up of my past challenges — the tables turned. Without knowing it, my cat was in mortal danger and I, with my organizing/Tetris skills had to keep it from certain death. It was a tense moment in an otherwise relaxing game (which might have gone for a little too long). However, I walked away from A Little to the Left happy. Its puzzles were creative, rewarding, and brightened my day.
I recommend this game to:
- Tidy(or tidy-aspiring) people
- Puzzle-game players
- Anyone who needs to feel like they crossed something off their to-do list
- Cat owners
- People up for a mesmerizing experience
- Anyone putting off real chores
- Those who haven’t had their fill of the Tower of Hanoi
- Anyone interested in finding patterns
- Fans of 2021’s Unpacking
- People that would save a helpless animal in need